Sotheby's Tel Aviv: We like Manhattan

Sotheby's Israel is again holding its annual sale of Israeli art in New York this coming Thursday.

zaritzky art 88 298 (photo credit: )
zaritzky art 88 298
(photo credit: )
Sotheby's Israel is again holding its annual sale of Israeli art in New York this coming Thursday, March 16. The catalogue is filled with lots that are pleasant, even ingratiating. Top lot is a late Chagall in oil and ink on masonite, painted in 1978 ($250,000-$350,000), while a somewhat earlier Chagall of two lovers in the corner of a bouquet of flowers starts at $220,000. Other top lots, by Yosef Zaritzky and Mordecai Ardon, begin around $150,000. The huge Zaritsky abstract canvas is from 1978 and has hopes of rising to $250,000. The Ardon is an over-pretty series of underpainted shapes glazed over with sweet transparent glazes. A second horizontal Ardon is equally pretty. A Reuven Rubin oil of Ein Karem from 1925 has a different kind of prettiness, one deriving from his historic pseudo-naive approach of the 1920s, his best period. This canvas would serve as a model for his later, but slicker, mostly imaginary landscapes. Originally owned by Zionist leader Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver, it may well reach its top estimate of $300,000. Another fine early Rubin is his 1927 oil of Mt. Scopus with Arab houses on the horizon. The tracery of hillside dominates the composition ($180,000-$250,000). Compare the Ein Karem oil with lot 44, an over-sweet group of Rubin olive trees with same title, painted decades later ($50,000-$70,000). The best of a quartet of Rubin flower pieces, Mimosas, starts at $70,000. And a typical Rubin piece of kitsch, Two Madonnas, 1947, has an estimate of $80,000-$100,000. A more gravely atmospheric tabletop oil from 1941, Currants and Cherries, dates from an anxious period in the Second World War ($50,000-$70,000). An Abel Pann pastel from the 1920s is a graphic illustration of The Binding of Isaac and may rise to $20,000. Another pastel version of Pann's perception of Potiphar's wife as a brazen teenager has an estimate less than half of that of the Binding. Yosl Bergner's delightfully humorous The Gang, 1973, depicts the raucous entrance of a group of his kitchen utensils. I think it will go beyond its top estimate of $7,000. Reisman, Simon, Kupferman, Gross and Arikha are all well represented, as are Janco and Castel. A featureless portrait by Gross is doubtless derived from works like the Reisman minimalist portrait also on offer. Among the Europeans are a group of oils by Josef Izraels and a small but quite lovely oil of a hopeful young woman in a Berlin cafe painted by Lesser Ury in the very early 1920s ($80,000-$100,000).