Auctions: Down Memory Lane

The sale of Israeli and International art is replete with Israeli painters, major and minor.

cabessa 88 (photo credit: )
cabessa 88
(photo credit: )
It's been a long time since we heard from (Ben Ami International Art Auctioneers), but we have just received the color catalogue of their December 12 sale of Israeli and International art, which will take place at the Trade Fairs and Convention Center in Tel Aviv. The sale is replete with Israeli painters, major and minor, and the catalogue is, in fact, a walk down memory lane. However, viewed from a platform somewhere in 2005, the lots appear mostly sentimental and gloomy, a characteristic of their times. The top lot, with a median estimate of $200,000, is an oil from 1903 by Abel Pann, which depicts in literal terms the aftermath of a pogrom. It belongs perhaps in a historical museum rather than in the living room of a wealthy collector. The cover lot is a major Zaritzky abstraction, one of the best of his Tsuba series from 1970 ($80,000-$120,000). Another surprise lot is a panorama of the Temple Mount painted in 1926 by Ludwig Blum, in a style nearer that of the Tel Aviv school of "primitives" than his later post-impressionist pot-boilers. This unique lot may well reach its top estimate of $60,000. Another notable lot is a 1913 oil of a woman seated next to a vase of flowers, an early and rather stiff formalization by the Russian-Jewish painter Robert Falk, who died in 1958 ($30,000-$40,000). There was a fine Falk in last month's Sotheby's sale of Russian art, and an even finer one in Christie's Russian sale, both from the 1920s and very much more expensive; both were painted with confident verve at a time when Soviet tolerance of avant-garde art was coming to an end. An unusual lot is a posterish portrait from 1960 of conductor Sir Malcom Sargent by Shalom Sebba, a good likeness rendered in the manner of Ludwig Kirschner's famous self-portrait in the Busch-Reisinger Museum at Harvard ($15,000-$20,000). Many New Horizons paintings are at the beginning of the 120-lot sale, while David Reeb, Menashe Kadishman and Pinhas Cohen-Gan bring up the rear. Take a good look at lot 118, a 2003 abstract oil on canvas by the constantly original Miriam Cabessa ($4,000-$6,000).