In 1930, Meir Dizengoff, the first mayor of Tel Aviv, invited Russian-French early Modernist artist Marc Chagall to Tel Aviv to discuss the establishment of a city art museum. Chagall accepted and arrived in March of 1931. During his visit, the artist gifted two of his works to the future museum. Thus Chagall’s painting Jew with Torah, 1925 was the first work to officially enter the museum’s collection.
The Tel Aviv Museum of Art, situated on the second floor of Dizengoff’s private home, opened to the public in 1932. Over the subsequent decades, the museum continued to develop and expand, and many artists and private collectors donated works to the city’s art institution in support of Tel Aviv’s cultural legacy.
Among these private collectors were Simon Jaglom (1896-1992) and Marie Jaglom (1908-1990). Simon, who was born to an affluent family in Proskurov (then the Russian Empire, now Ukraine) met and married Marie Stadthagen in Berlin in 1930. To avoid Nazi Europe, the couple moved to London, then to Montreal, and ultimately settled in New York, where they began to amass their art collection.
“Art and Israel were the two subjects that I can remember my father reading about most frequently, and my mother actively shared his interest,” says Henry Jaglom, the couple’s youngest son. “My parents were early Zionists. A portrait of Theodor Herzl hung on the wall in their house. My father was very involved with being Jewish, and his identity as a Jew was always wrapped up with the State of Israel.”
It was therefore no surprise to the Jaglom family when Simon and Marie chose to donate a gallery space for Modern Art in the Tel Aviv Museum of Art’s new main building on Shaul Hamelech Boulevard. Their generosity was celebrated at the inauguration of the main building in April 1971.
“It was a wonderful event, presided over by prime minister Golda Meir and capped by a concert in their honor conducted by Leonard Bernstein,” says Henry. “And it was ‘logical’ – my father’s favorite word – to desire that the bulk of their collection eventually hang permanently in the pavilion that bears their names, in the country that they were so profoundly attached to.”
Since 1971, the Simon and Marie Jaglom Pavilion for Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Art has offered museum goers a comprehensive preview of European art from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
This year, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art was determined to refresh the Jagom Pavilion through a major renovation. With support from the family and the generosity of the Simon and Marie Jaglom Foundation, the gallery space has been refurbished and rejuvenated.
The new display offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy the works of world-renowned artists in a more dynamic way. Many of the works have undergone restoration, the walls have been enlivened with color, the lighting has been updated, and many of the skylights have been opened to allow natural light. Vitrines showcasing sculptures have been inset into the walls, specially designed benches have been strategically placed throughout the pavilion to encourage conversation and reflection about the works, and a complimentary booklet that includes selected extended labels is available at the entrance of the exhibition.
Additionally, an entire wall has been dedicated to the works of Chagall. The handful of paintings by the artist from the Jaglom collection is hung on the Chagall Wall alongside the museum’s prized first donation, Jew with Torah
“There had been almost no changes made to the [pavilion] space since it opened in 1971, so this was a very exciting project for everyone involved,” says Raz Samira, the museum’s curator of Modern Art. “It was important that we integrate sculpture and painting, which is part of the design with the new vitrines. We also wanted to group multiple works by each artist to give a greater context to their individual development.”
The pavilion features mostly Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works from the Jaglom collection, as well as a number of works donated to the museum and from various private collections. The comprehensive exhibition presents masterpieces by renowned artists such as Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Amedeo Modigliani, Henri Matisse, Henri-Edmond Cross and Chaim Soutine.
Henry Jaglom explains that his parents appreciated art for art’s sake.
“Their choice of paintings was entirely instinctive and subjective, based solely on the pleasure they received in viewing the individual painting and with no other consideration. They had no pretensions of putting together an important or significant collection; they just bought what appealed to them,” he says.
The Jagloms’ preference for turn-of-thecentury French art is evident, and their collection presents the most influential artistic movements from the late 19th to early 20th centuries.
“On display are works by artists you could meet if you walked around Paris at the time. They are an extremely important group, each with his or her signature style,” Samira says.
Paris was a melting pot for avant-garde movements. In the 1860s, Monet’s subjective vision transformed the status quo of French painting and led to the formation of the Impressionist movement.
“Works by Monet are hung alongside those of his mentor and art teacher, Eugène Boudin. Not considered an Impressionist artist himself, Boudin radically paved the way for the future movement,” the curator says.
Impressionist artists, distinguished by their visible brush strokes, aimed to capture fleeting moments and the sensory effect of light. In the following years, the Post-Impressionist movement surfaced, placing greater emphasis on symbolic content, amplified color and definitive forms.
The Impressionist and Post-Impressionist movements are often regarded as the heralds of Modernism. This period, which significantly influenced the history of art, was characterized by unprecedented openness and tolerance, which led to an increased presence of Jewish artists such as Chagall, Pissarro, Modigliani and Soutine.
“From the beautiful painting of Matisse’s daughter [Marguerite] and his main model in the 1920s [Henriette Darricarrère] to Modigliani’s portrait of his friend Gaston Modot, the famous French cinema star, our aim was to reintroduce the Modern Art collections and, in doing so, set a stage for unique and inspiring connections between the works,” Samira says. For more information about the Simon and Marie Jaglom Pavilion, visit www.tamuseum.org.il.