Artist Rafi Lavie, the influential anti-establishment artist known for overturning many of the conventions of early Israeli art, died of cancer Monday at age 70. A long-time instructor at institutions including Beit Berl and the Ramat Hasharon Art Academy, Lavie was considered a founder of the "Tel Aviv school," an artistic style partially based on the idea of avoiding or subverting the overtly Zionist imagery of his predecessors. A vocal critic of earlier artists such as Arie Aroch and Yossef Zaritsky, Lavie exerted a powerful influence on the Israeli arts scene beginning in the 1960s, and though he rejected candidacy for prestigious awards including the Israel Prize, the artist nevertheless found himself celebrated by the mainstream by the middle of his career. Two Lavie works hang at the Prime Minister's Residence.
Lavie's style represented an obvious revolt against the clean geometry and colorful imagery of earlier Israeli art. Among Lavie's signature pieces were plywood boards decorated with dark ink, gray and white paints, newspaper and magazine clippings and even sand. The artist's works were eventually featured in venues including the Tel Aviv Museum and the Israel Museum.
Despite diminishing productivity during his illness, Lavie told Ha'aretz recently that his final year was his happiest. The artist requested that no funeral take place and that his body be donated to science.
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