Ivan Schwebel 311.
(photo credit: www.schwebelpaints.com)
Ivan Schwebel, an American-born Israeli artist who blended modern and ancient
Jewish imagery and American cultural icons in his art, died last week. He was
Schwebel was renowned for fusing images from different time periods
in his paintings. He famously depicted biblical figures, such as King David and
Job, in urban Israeli environments, such as Zion Square and modern Jerusalem.
His works about the Holocaust combine different vignettes of Jewish history –
the Spanish Expulsion, the ghettos and the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem skylines.
Colorful and expressive, his pieces have been interpreted as commentaries on
Israeli society and politics, and they have been exhibited in the Israel Museum
and in museums and galleries throughout Israel and the US.
daughter, Roni, described her father as a humorous, generous person who loved
his family and adventures.
She said that her father enjoyed explaining
his artwork to his children and grandchildren and that his home in Jerusalem’s
Ein Kerem neighborhood always smelled of paint.
Art collectors remembered
Schwebel as a complicated personality and cherished the combination of Jewish
history, modern Israeli iconography and American culture in his
“Schwebel’s ability to join the present to past Jewish history was
unique,” said Shimshon Crystal, who coordinated two of Schwebel’s exhibitions in
“His works synthesized his imagination, his creativity and the
reality in which he lived Yossi Sissman, owner of the Sissman Gallery in Tel
Aviv, which sells Schwebel’s works, remembered Schwebel’s masterful drawing
Schwebel died last Tuesday while strolling in Nahal Sorek in
the western part of the Jerusalem mountains, a place he visited several times a
day with his dog and that was the subject of his recent series of paintings “A
His daughter said that when Schwebel did not return home on
Tuesday, his family knew to first search for him in his “safe place,” where he
was found lying on his back on the path.
Though Schwebel had begun to age
in recent years, his daughter said that he continued to paint and even painted
the day he died. When he left for his walk, his coffee mug was half fill, a copy
of The Jerusalem Post was laid open on his table, and his paints were
Schwebel was born in West Virginia on October 29, 1932. He served in
the American army and was deployed in Japan, where he studied painting with a
Zen painter. When he returned to the US, Schwebel studied art history at New
York University on a scholarship from the US Army.
He moved to Israel in
1963. Schwebel painted at his home in Ein Kerem and taught art briefly at the
Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. He is survived by his wife,
Adva, five children and six grandchildren.