Auctions: Two sales, over 1,000 Israelis

The two-part sale of Israeli and International Art at Tiroche of Herzliya on January 20 and 27 has 804 lots but not a single one that I would lust after.

kisling art 88 298 (photo credit: )
kisling art 88 298
(photo credit: )
The two-part sale of Israeli and International Art at Tiroche of Herzliya on January 20 and 27 has 804 lots but not a single one that I would lust after, though nearly every name in the local pantheon is represented. With few exceptions, the lots do not show the artists at their best, but on the other hand, prices are commensurate. In the second part of the sale, you might be able to get an oil by say, Tepler or Griffit, for just a few hundred dollars. One of the most painterly and accomplished oils in the catalog is an in-the-studio study of a bowl of fruit on a table set in perspective, painted by American-born Arie Lubin back in 1931 and nothing like his later angular geometric representations of the denizens of Arab coffee houses ($6,000-$8,000). Many of the top lots are by Reuven Rubin (mostly over-sweet), Mordecai Ardon (all glazed over underpainting and superficially appealing) and Marcel Janco. There are a handful of colorful gestural abstractions by Lea Nikel, the best of them, to my taste, lot No. 217 ($10,000-$15,000). I liked an unusual representation of the Temple, set in a cloudy landscape, charmingly brought off by Gabriel Cohen in his na f manner, dated 1989 ($3,000-$4,000). Aharon Halevi, who died half a century ago, is represented with a view of Tiberias painted in the '20s manner of Reuven Rubin ($3,000-$4,000). A freely handled oil of a girl by Moshe Mokady has much painterly appeal ($6,000-$8,000). I liked too an interior with a through-the-window view by Haim Gliksberg ($6,000-$8,000). There's a pleasant watercolor of a pot of flowers by Anna Ticho that is in the same price range. Lots by Moshe Kupferman, Samuel Bak, Ludwig Blum, Yosl Bergner and Abel Pann should also attract attention. There are also canvases from the Jewish School of Paris, headed by a Kremegne of a vase of flowers that starts at just $3,000. THERE ARE a little under half as many lots (383 in all) at Matsa's 106th auction in Ramat Gan on January 28, but there is also very much less dross. Matsa's catalog is always in three parts, enabling it to expand on the earlier main catalog as late consignments come in. This time the thinner third section lacks illustrations of some of the lots and its English translations, as in the note on Robert Ross, are incompetent. A curiosity is a very early Marcel Janco landscape, painted in 1910 when he was only 15 ($4,000-$8,000). Another early curiosity is Yosl Bergner's autobiographical Bedtime Stories, depicting himself (?) in bed as his grandfather (?) tells a tale. I think it was painted early in the '40s just before Bergner joined the Australian army ($8,000-$15,000). The synagogue of the Ari in Safed, by Mordecai Levanon (a favorite subject of artists from Chagall down), is dated 1963 and is one of this usually mediocre painter's better efforts ($17,000-$20,000). A wonderful minimalist landscape by Ori Reisman, painted in the late Eighties, is one of his best and may well exceed its top estimate of $50,000. Mordecai Ardon's abstraction Ship of Hours, 1965, starts around $130,000. One of the top lots is Reuven Rubin's 1925 oil The Walled City of Jerusalem, a harbinger of his best period (1925-29). This small oil, which we reproduced last Friday, starts at $220,000. Compare it with lot 165, Rubin's kitschy The Road to Safed, 1957, typical of his later mannerist style ($28,000-$35,000). There's also a better late Rubin, Harvest in Galilee, 1964 ($140,000-$180,000). The real top lot is a watercolor, pastel and crayon of a vase of flowers and fruit painted by Marc Chagall back in 1937, a light and happy work ($250,000-$300,000). There are a number of Isidor Kaufmanns in this sale, notably lot 79, a young woman at her desk, a carefully treated oil on panel that starts at $35,000. If my memory is correct, this work made an earlier appearance at auction not so long ago. Take a look too at a small Lea Nikel abstraction cleverly saved by a patch of canvas collage ($4,500-$7,000). An honest tabletop formalization by Yosl Bergner of two fish on a plate is worth more than its estimate ($4,500-$5,500).