Top 12 summer exhibitions at the Israel Museum

Originating from the Judean Hills and nearby Judean Desert, the 12 masks on view each share striking stylistic features.

Unfolding Worlds: Hotei Gosei, active 1804-1844; ‘Tea Harvesting in Uji near Kyoto,’ 1825 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Unfolding Worlds: Hotei Gosei, active 1804-1844; ‘Tea Harvesting in Uji near Kyoto,’ 1825
(photo credit: Courtesy)
1 FACE TO FACE: THE OLDEST MASKS IN THE WORLD The Israel Museum brings together for the first time a rare group of 9,000-yearold stone masks, the oldest known to date, in a groundbreaking exhibition. Culminating nearly a decade of research, this exhibition showcases 12 extraordinary Neolithic masks, all originating in the same region in the ancient Land of Israel.
Originating from the Judean Hills and nearby Judean Desert, the 12 masks on view each share striking stylistic features.
Large eye holes and gaping mouths create the expression of a human skull.
Perforations on the periphery may have been used for wearing them, for the attachment of hair, which would have given the masks a more human appearance, or for suspending the masks from pillars or other constructed forms. Based on similarities with other cultic skulls of ancestors found in villages of the same period, the masks are believed to have represented the spirits of dead ancestors, used in religious and social ceremonies and in rites of healing and magic.
On view through September 13.
2 UNFOLDING WORLDS: JAPANESE SCREENS FROM THE GITTER-YELEN COLLECTION The exhibition displays masterpieces by some of the leading Japanese artists from the 17th century through the early 20th century. The 15 large-scale, exquisitely painted screens from the Gitter-Yelen Collection, amassed over a period of forty yearsand making the first time the collection is being exhibited in Israel, including five screens on display for the first time anywhere.
Representing one of the most distinctive forms of Japanese art, these screens exemplify some of the most brilliant artistic achievements of the Edo period (1603- 1868) and depict beautifully designed pictorial compositions that reflect the social and cultural ideals of their time.
On view through November 8.
3 DRESS CODES: REVEALING THE JEWISH WARDROBE The first comprehensive exhibition of its kind, brings together an array of traditional apparel from the 18th through the 20th centuries from the Museum’s world-renowned collection of Jewish dress. The exhibition features over 100 costumes from four continents in a visually rich display that showcases the colors, textures, history and symbolism of clothing. Opening the door to garments deep within the Jewish wardrobe, the exhibition presents clothing as representative of such universal human themes as identity and memory. “Dress Codes” offers a cross-cultural celebration of the history of Jewish dress and the ways in which traditional clothing has stimulated fashion design throughout history and continues to inspire the styles of today.
The exhibition is on view through October 25.
4 HIDDEN POWER IN AFRICAN ART The exhibition explores the concept of accumulation and empowering materials found on and within ceremonial objects originating from 12 Sub-Saharan African countries. Bringing together 65 objects dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries – including objects from the Museum’s collection that have never before been displayed – this marks the first exhibition in Israel to examine the sources of power in African ritual.
The exhibition is on view through September 17 in the Nathan Cummings Building for Modern and Contemporary Art.
A 6-channel projected installation of a living spruce tree comprises Horizontal (2011) by Finnish contemporary video artist Eija-Liisa Ahtila. At over 10 meters wide, this video work creates an undistorted portrait of a tree in its entirety.
Ahtila chose to challenge the viewer by projecting the image horizontally.
The simple 90 degree rotation alters perceptions of the tree’s wind-blown branches, making it appear more animal than plant.
By rotating the tree horizontally she was also able enlarge each section, particularly the spire of the tree, resulting in an unusually intimate, precise and monumental portrait of poetic movement.
Horizontal is on view through November.
6 MAKING AN ENTRANCE: JEWISH ARTISTS IN 19THCENTURY EUROPE Featuring 40 works by artists, this exhibition explores the work of the pioneering Jewish artists who lived in 19th-century Europe. Each of these artists straddled the fine line between maintaining their Jewish origins while pursuing a field in which they depicted nudes and even Christian subjects for their patrons. The exhibition also challenges the long-held premise that the “first Jewish artist” was Moritz Daniel Oppenheim, protégée of the Rothschild family, and presents the works of the lesser-known artists Salomon Pinhas from Kassel and Jacob Liepmann from Berlin, who worked in Germany at the very beginning of the 19th century.
Highlights include Pinhas’s 1808 portraits of “Father of Reform Judaism” Israel Jacobson and his wife Mink Samson-Jacobson, d’Ancona’s Sleeping Nude (1860s), Oppenheim’s The Return of The Jewish Volunteer from the Army to his Family (1834), and Gottlieb’s Jesus in Front of his Judges (1877-1879).
On display in the Museum’s Edmond and Lily Safra Fine Arts Wing through July 15.
7 JOURNEYS The annual exhibition in the Ruth Youth Wing for Art Education features 50 works by Israeli and international artists, dealing with the desire to leave the familiar behind and head out for distant places. “Journeys” invites visitors to explore remote locations and to experience the excitement that the discovery of terra incognita invokes in the traveler.
Focusing mainly on contemporary art, the exhibition also features objects from a range of cultures and time periods, illuminating the timeless nature of the subject matter.
8 WHAT A SMALL WORLD Noriko San, Ella Kerry, Sia, Anna Riwkin- Brick and many other children were photographed by Anna Riwkin-Brick during her travels around the world, and featured in the 1950-70 book series Children of the World. The weaving of realistic details of their lives into fictional stories is the magical element of the series, and a large part of what makes the stories so memorable.
The portraits Top summer exhibitions at the Israel Museum 12 7 8 are particularly prominent; taken at eye level, they draw the reader into each child’s story.
Displayed alongside the photographs from the series are souvenir dolls from the collection of the Youth Wing for Art Education.
Opening Hours for Youth Wing Illustration Library: Sun., Wed. 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., Mon., Thurs. 1-5 p.m., Tues. 4-7 p.m., Fridays and holiday eves Closed.
Through September 30 at The Ruth Youth Wing Illustration Library.
An impressive selection of rare documentary photographs taken by the Yemenite Jewish photographer Yihye Haybi (1911- 1977) is featured in an exhibition at Ticho House. The exhibition presents a rich cultural kaleidoscope of Yemen’s capital city and sheds light on a crucial and largely undocumented period of history before Sana’a began to modernize.
Photography was strictly forbidden by law and could only be practiced with an official government permit, which Haybi managed to receive from the imam. With his camera, he documented the city’s communal life and everyday public activity, providing a rare glimpse inside this otherwise closed world.
On view through September.
Exploring the political, existential, and psychological instability of today’s world, “Unstable Places” brings together an international roster of artists whose works reflect on experiences of uncertainty that shape both individual lives and the social order of life in our time. Most of the works on display are recent acquisitions in the Contemporary Art department and are new to the public. Through November 8.
11 BIG BAMBÚ Artists Doug and Mike Starn’s monumental installation of bamboo and rope, towers 16 meters high and covers an area of more than 700 square meters. Composed of more than 10,000 bamboo poles, the completed work, 5,000 Arms to Hold You.
(See pages 10-11)
12 JAMES TURRELL: LIGHT SPACES James Turrell, one of the giants of contemporary art, has been exploring ways in which light is seen and experienced for nearly 50 years. Treating light as material, Turrell examines conventions of consciousness and perception. The exhibition is a retrospective of highlights of important works from each of Turrell’s critical periods.
On view through November. (See pages 12-13)