Dizengoff fountain still bare, with no clear date for Agam design’s return

The fountain was dismantled in December 2016, ahead of the demolition of the Dizengoff Square’s raised platform, under which cars could drive.

The Fire and Water fountain, still awaiting completion, October 16 2019  (photo credit: Lahav Harkov)
The Fire and Water fountain, still awaiting completion, October 16 2019
(photo credit: Lahav Harkov)
Over a year after it was returned to Dizengoff Square in central Tel Aviv, the Fire and Water Fountain remains bare and grey, without its iconic, colorful Yaacov Agam design, and with no clear date for its return.
The fountain was dismantled in 2016, ahead of the demolition of the Dizengoff Square’s raised platform, under which cars could drive. The platform was replaced with a tree-lined, ground-level plaza and a traffic circle, and the fountain was reinstalled in a nighttime operation, lowered into place by a crane in July 2018.
Since then, the fountain has been missing its colorful rings, designed by the renowned Israeli sculptor. First installed in 1986, it was in a similar situation when it was renovated for more than a year in 2011 and 2012.
The Fire and Water Fountain being dismantled, December 18, 2016The Fire and Water Fountain being dismantled, December 18, 2016
The fountain is meant to be a kinetic sculpture, meaning that it looks different depending on one’s angle of viewing. The style is Agam’s trademark and can be seen on the facade of the nearby Dan Hotel. The fountain also spun around and played music.
The bright colors and geometric shapes have made the fountain a Tel Aviv landmark and icon of the city.
The Tel Aviv Municipality’s spokesperson told The Jerusalem Post this week that, “the Dizengoff Square project, including lowering [the square] to ground-level and renovating it, will end with the completion of the ‘Fire and Water’ sculpture, whose colors must be authorized by the artist Yaacov Agam, who has yet to authorize them.”
When the colors are reinstalled, the city will invite the public to the dedication event, the spokesperson added.
Agam, 91, did not respond to a query from the Post, but told Time Out Tel Aviv about his process in March of this year.
He said that the Tel Aviv Municipality agreed to his request that there be a back-up technical system for the fountain, because it would often malfunction due to birds or stones getting inside. But that means he has to paint two fountains.
At the time, he said he would try to complete the work, or at least a usable intermediate version, before the Eurovision Song Contest took place in Tel Aviv in May of this year.
Meanwhile, Agam has gotten into disputes with the municipality for decorating the fountain with banners in honor of various events.
In December 2018, when the fountain was covered to look like a dreidel for Hanukkah, Agam told Calcalist that the move was “audacious and a copyright violation. A work of art cannot be changed; it’s barbaric.”