Nahum Gutman Museum
Virtual Art Tour
Lost Landscapes and Hidden Maps
The 120th Anniversary of Nahum Gutman's Birth
Curator Monica Lavi
The Nahum Gutman Museum of Art is celebrating the 120th anniversary of the birth of painter, illustrator, and writer Nahum Gutman with a retrospective exhibition of his work. The show reveals Gutman the “cartographer,” who combined map references, landmarks, and mental maps in his paintings, whereby he rearranged his childhood realms which extended between Jaffa and Tel Aviv.
The exhibition outlines a route which passes from Jaffa, through the Neve Sha’anan neighborhood, to Tel Aviv, following Gutman’s life. It ties his chronicles and body of work with the landscape and topography of the time, illustrating his use of concepts and signs from the doctrine of cartography to assimilate his private memories in the myth about Tel Aviv’s establishment, which he helped create.
Alongside Gutman’s works, the exhibition features still photographs, maps, and aerial photographs which shed light on the area between Jaffa and Tel Aviv, enabling a reconsideration of his work, which has, thus far, relied primarily on exegetic tools from the fields of Orientalism, colonialism, and psychoanalysis.
Gutman’s childhood memories consist of views of Jaffa and its neighborhoods and the establishment of Tel Aviv. Both these cities left indelible imprints on the young Gutman, who arrived in Jaffa from Russia at the age of 7, and moved to Tel Aviv with his family at 12, shortly after his mother’s passing. These memories of a new beginning, loss, and reconstruction erupt in the adult Gutman, by this point an artist and a family man, and are linked to the places where they occurred. Gutman depicted Jaffa and its citrus groves with vivid, compressed, sensual, and saturated coloration; he drew the nascent Tel Aviv in ink and pencil on yellowish papers, and set up his home near that of his parents, who were among the city’s founders.
Throughout his artistic career, Gutman strove to close the experiential, emotional, biographic, and geographic split he carried with him—his faithfulness to his childhood memories from both cities. He created panoramic maps from a bird’s-eye view which united Jaffa and Tel Aviv into a continuous tranquil space which disregards the political reality in situ.
We invite you to embark on a magical journey through landscapes that have disappeared from view, yet remain etched in old maps and in Gutman’s works, which combine truth and fiction, personal testimony and collective memory.
In 2008, at the height of the global economic crisis, a new tourist trend encouraged people to take a local holiday, and even an actual vacation, at home. This approach challenges us to meet a familiar place as if it were our first encounter with it; to be tourists in the country we were born in, and to discover new worlds just around the corner.
From the distance of time, one could argue that Nahum Gutman may well have been the pioneer of this trend already in the 1940s. The letters he left behind paint a picture of a traveling painter, or perhaps a painting traveler – a figure who has already been studied in several previous exhibitions at the Museum. Beyond the extensive penning of influential travel and adventure books such as In the Land of Lobengulu King of Zulu, Path of the Orange Peels: Adventures in the Early Days of Tel Aviv, and Adventures of a True Blue Donkey, the exhibition Staycation sheds light on another facet of Gutman’s life: “artist’s residencies,” which he used to set up for himself as a way to invigorate his painting brush. In his letters to his wife, Dora, Gutman writes about the food, the people, and the weather; about everything and nothing he discovered in places like Haifa, the Jordan Valley, Jerusalem, Tiberias and more, in which he stayed for a few weeks at a time. Although these places are only a few hours away from Tel Aviv, Gutman experiences them as a real tourist, through mail correspondence mishaps, outdoor toilets, and children through whom he looks at the landscape, at nature that he cannot describe “by heart,” as he put it. “Everything I see here makes me want to paint ...,” he writes to his son Hemi from a hotel in Safed, and his words emanate the spirit of discovery and adventure. Can we still experience feelings of this kind today, in a networked world, where every point on the globe is captured on camera and transmitted via satellite? An era in which you cannot wander off the trail and there is no longer a need to know a place or remember the route to the destination?
The six artists participating in this show dive into the initial encounter, transporting us with them to six places they have marked on their personal map. Just like the painters who joined the Spanish expeditions uncovered the new world, one species at a time, the artists-travelers whose works are featured in the exhibition expose their places before us one step at a time, through humor and play, while lingering on the trivial and the elusive.
The fascination with travel has been a prevalent theme in Israeli art. In the 1991 exhibition Routes of Wandering: Nomadism, Journeys and Transitions in Contemporary Israeli Art, the curator Sarit Shapira pointed at a nomadic quality in canonical works by contemporary and prominent Israeli artists of the time. Shapira then considered the identity of Israeli art formulated by “wandering” artists who express “a longing for a ‘different’ place.” The exhibition Staycation features the works of emerging artists (some of whom exhibit for the first time), works that have not yet to cement their status in local art history. They navigate two borders: at the one pole, physical and conventional data, and at the other pole – private imagination and personal allegory.
Behind the Museum Walls
Active exhibition for all ages
Curators Monica Lavi, Maya Kashevitz
The exhibition Behind the Museum Walls focuses on the traditional roles of an art museum: collecting, preserving, researching, exhibiting and educating. The exhibition presents artworks by Nahum Gutman from the museum collection.
The exhibition displays the route that a work of art takes from the moment of its creation until it is shown to the public: from the artist’s studio through the museum collection, to the museum gallery.
In this exhibition you will be able to create your own work of art, participate in exhibition making process, and to experience the work of a curator, registrar, designer and researcher.