Bezalel Academy of Art and Design

Bezalel Academy of Art and Design

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Bezalel Academy of Art and Design is Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

's national school of art
Art school
Art school is a general term for any educational institution with a primary focus on the visual arts, especially illustration, painting, photography, sculpture, and graphic design. The term applies to institutions with elementary, secondary, post-secondary or undergraduate, or graduate or...

, founded in 1906 by Boris Schatz
Boris Schatz
Boris Schatz was a Lithuanian Jewish artist and sculptor who founded the Bezalel School in Jerusalem.-Biography:Boris Schatz was born in Varniai, Kaunas district, Lithuania, under the rule of the Russian Empire in 1867. His father, a teacher in a cheder , sent him to study in a yeshiva in...

. It is named for the Biblical
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 figure Bezalel
In Exodus 31:1-6, Bezalel |transcribed]] as Betzalel and most accurately as Beẓal'el), is the chief artisan of the Tabernacle. Elsewhere in the Bible the name occurs only in the genealogical lists of the Book of Chronicles, but according to cuneiform inscriptions a variant form of the same,...

, son of Uri , who was appointed by Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

 to oversee the design and construction of the Tabernacle
The Tabernacle , according to the Hebrew Torah/Old Testament, was the portable dwelling place for the divine presence from the time of the Exodus from Egypt through the conquering of the land of Canaan. Built to specifications revealed by God to Moses at Mount Sinai, it accompanied the Israelites...

 (Exodus 35:30).


The Bezalel School was founded in 1906 by Boris Schatz. Theodor Herzl
Theodor Herzl
Theodor Herzl , born Benjamin Ze’ev Herzl was an Ashkenazi Jew Austro-Hungarian journalist and the father of modern political Zionism and in effect the State of Israel.-Early life:...

 and the early Zionists believed in the creation of a national style of art combining Jewish, Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

ern, and Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an traditions. The teachers of Bezalel developed a distinctive school of art, known as the Bezalel school
Bezalel school
The Bezalel school was an art movement in Palestine in the late Ottoman and British Mandate periods. Named for the Bezalel Art School, predecessor of the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, it has been described as "a fusion of 'oriental' art and Jugendstil."...

, which portrayed Biblical and Zionist subjects in a style influenced by the European jugendstil (art nouveau
Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau is an international philosophy and style of art, architecture and applied art—especially the decorative arts—that were most popular during 1890–1910. The name "Art Nouveau" is French for "new art"...

) and traditional Persian and Syrian art. The artists blended "varied strands of surroundings, tradition and innovation," in paintings and craft objects that invokes "biblical themes, Islamic design and European traditions," in their effort to "carve out a distinctive style of Jewish" art for the new nation they intended to build in the ancient Jewish homeland.

The Bezalel School produced decorative art objects in a wide range of media: silver, leather, wood, brass and fabric. While the artists and designers were European-trained, the craftsmen were often members of the Yemenite Jewish
Yemenite Jews
Yemenite Jews are those Jews who live, or whose recent ancestors lived, in Yemen . Between June 1949 and September 1950, the overwhelming majority of Yemen's Jewish population was transported to Israel in Operation Magic Carpet...

 community, which has a long tradition of working in precious metals. Silver and goldsmithing had been traditional Jewish occupations in Yemen. Yemenite immigrants with their colorful traditional costumes were also frequent subjects of Bezalel school artists.

Leading artists of the school include Meir Gur Aryeh, Ze'ev Raban
Ze'ev Raban
Ze’ev Raban was a leading painter, decorative artist, and industrial designer of the Bezalel school style, and was one of the founders of the Israeli art world.-Life:...

, Shmuel Ben David, Ya'ackov Ben-Dov
Ya'ackov Ben-Dov
Ya'ackov Ben-Dov photographer and a pioneer of Jewish Cinematography in Palestine.- Biography :Ben Dov was born in what is now the Ukraine and attended the Academy of the Arts in Kiev.He came to Israel with the Second Aliyah....

, Ze'ev Ben-Tzvi, Jacob Eisenberg
Jacob Eisenberg
Jacob Eisenberg was an Israeli artist and a member of the Bezalel school.Eisenberg was born in Pinsk and immigrated to the land of Israel in 1913...

, Jacob Pins
Jacob Pins
Jacob Otto Pins was a German-Israeli woodcut artist and notable art collector, particularly of Japanese prints and paintings....

, Jacob Steinhardt
Jacob Steinhardt
Jacob Steinhardt was an Israeli painter and woodcut artist.-Biography:Jacob Steinhardt was born in Żerków, Germany . He attended the School of Art in Berlin in 1906, then studied painting with Louis Corinth and engraving with Hermann Struck in 1907...

, and Hermann Struck
Hermann Struck
Hermann Struck was a German Jewish artist known for his etchings.Hermann Struck was born in Berlin. He studied at the Berlin Academy of Fine Arts. In 1904, he joined the modern art movement known as the Berlin Secession.In 1900, Struck met Jozef Israëls, a Dutch artist, who became his mentor...

. In 1912, the school had only one female student, Marousia (Miriam) Nissenholtz, who used the pseudonym Chad Gadya
Chad Gadya
Chad Gadya is a playful cumulative song in Aramaic and Hebrew. It is sung at the end of the Passover Seder, the Jewish ritual feast that marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Passover...

. The school closed down in 1929 in the wake of economic difficulties, but reopened in 1935, attracting many teachers and students from Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, many of them from the Bauhaus
', commonly known simply as Bauhaus, was a school in Germany that combined crafts and the fine arts, and was famous for the approach to design that it publicized and taught. It operated from 1919 to 1933. At that time the German term stood for "School of Building".The Bauhaus school was founded by...

 school shut down by the Nazis.

In 1958, the first year that the prize was awarded to an organization, Bezalel won the Israel Prize
Israel Prize
The Israel Prize is an award handed out by the State of Israel and is largely regarded as the state's highest honor. It is presented annually, on Israeli Independence Day, in a state ceremony in Jerusalem, in the presence of the President, the Prime Minister, the Knesset chairperson, and the...

 for painting and sculpture.

In 1969, Bezalel became a state-supported institution. In 1975 it was recognized by the Council for Higher Education in Israel
Council for Higher Education in Israel
The Council for Higher Education in Israel is a supervisory body for universities and colleges in Israel. It is the only organization with the authority to give educational accreditation...

 as an institute of higher education.

It completed its relocation to Mount Scopus
Mount Scopus
Mount Scopus , جبل المشهد , جبل الصوانة) is a mountain in northeast Jerusalem. In the wake of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Mount Scopus became a UN protected Jewish exclave within Jordanian-occupied territory until the Six-Day War in 1967...

 in 1990.

Bezalel Pavilion

Bezalel pavilion was a tin-plated wooden structure with a crenelated roof and tower built outside Jaffa Gate in 1912. It was a shop and showroom for Bezalel
In Exodus 31:1-6, Bezalel |transcribed]] as Betzalel and most accurately as Beẓal'el), is the chief artisan of the Tabernacle. Elsewhere in the Bible the name occurs only in the genealogical lists of the Book of Chronicles, but according to cuneiform inscriptions a variant form of the same,...

 souvenirs. The pavilion was demolished six years later.


In 2006, the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design celebrated its 100th anniversary. Today, it is located on Mount Scopus
Mount Scopus
Mount Scopus , جبل المشهد , جبل الصوانة) is a mountain in northeast Jerusalem. In the wake of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Mount Scopus became a UN protected Jewish exclave within Jordanian-occupied territory until the Six-Day War in 1967...

 in Jerusalem and has 1,500 students. Faculties include Fine Arts, Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

, Ceramic
A ceramic is an inorganic, nonmetallic solid prepared by the action of heat and subsequent cooling. Ceramic materials may have a crystalline or partly crystalline structure, or may be amorphous...

 Design, Industrial Design
Industrial design
Industrial design is the use of a combination of applied art and applied science to improve the aesthetics, ergonomics, and usability of a product, but it may also be used to improve the product's marketability and production...

, Jewelry, Photography
Photography is the art, science and practice of creating durable images by recording light or other electromagnetic radiation, either electronically by means of an image sensor or chemically by means of a light-sensitive material such as photographic film...

, Visual Communication
Visual communication
Visual communication as the name suggests is communication through visual aid and is described as the conveyance of ideas and information in forms that can be read or looked upon...

, Animation
Animation is the rapid display of a sequence of images of 2-D or 3-D artwork or model positions in order to create an illusion of movement. The effect is an optical illusion of motion due to the phenomenon of persistence of vision, and can be created and demonstrated in several ways...

, Film
A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects...

, and Art History
Art history
Art history has historically been understood as the academic study of objects of art in their historical development and stylistic contexts, i.e. genre, design, format, and style...

 & Theory. The architecture campus is in downtown Jerusalem, in the historic Bezalel building. Bezalel offers Bachelor of Fine Arts
Bachelor of Fine Arts
In the United States and Canada, the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, usually abbreviated BFA, is the standard undergraduate degree for students seeking a professional education in the visual or performing arts. In some countries such a degree is called a Bachelor of Creative Arts or BCA...

 (B.F.A.), Bachelor of Architecture
Bachelor of Architecture
The Bachelor of Architecture is an undergraduate academic degree designed to satisfy the academic component of professional accreditation bodies, to be followed by a period of practical training prior to professional examination and registration. It is awarded for a course of study that lasts up...

 (B.Arch.), Bachelor of Design
Bachelor of Design
A Bachelor of Design degree is usually an undergraduate academic degree awarded for a course or major that generally lasts three or four years. It is an arts-centered degree that is a counterpart to the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree...

 (B.Des.) degrees, a Master of Fine Arts
Master of Fine Arts
A Master of Fine Arts is a graduate degree typically requiring 2–3 years of postgraduate study beyond the bachelor's degree , although the term of study will vary by country or by university. The MFA is usually awarded in visual arts, creative writing, filmmaking, dance, or theatre/performing arts...

 in conjunction with Hebrew University, and two different Master of Design
Master of Design
A Master of Design is a postgraduate academic master degree in the field of Design awarded several academic institutions around the world. The degree level has different equivalecies; some MDes are equivalent to Master of Fine Arts and others to a Master of Arts or Master of Science postgraduate...

 (M.des) degrees.

The academy has plans to move back to the city center.

In 2011, the Bezalel student show at the Milan Furniture Fair was described as a "lively runner-up" for the best exhibit.

Notable alumni

  • Baruch Agadati
    Baruch Agadati
    Baruch Agadati was a Russian-Israeli classical ballet dancer, choreographer, painter, and film producer and director. He is considered a legendary figure in Israeli culture.-Biography:...

     (1895–1976), Russian-Palestinian-Israeli classical ballet dancer, choreographer, painter, film producer and director
  • Yaacov Agam
    Yaacov Agam
    Yaacov Agam is an Israeli sculptor and experimental artist best known for his contributions to optical and kinetic art.-Biography:Yaakov Agam was born Yaakov Gipstein on May 11, 1928, in Rishon LeZion, then Mandate Palestine...

     (born 1928), sculptor and experimental artist
  • Netiva Ben-Yehuda
    Netiva Ben-Yehuda
    Netiva Ben Yehuda was an Israeli author, editor and media personality. She was a commander in the pre-state Jewish underground, Palmach.-Biography:...

     (1928-2011), author, editor, Palmach commander
  • Yitzhak Danziger
    Yitzhak Danziger
    Yitzhak Danziger was an Israeli sculptor. He was one of the pioneer sculptors of the Canaanite Movement, and later joined the "Ofakim Hadashim" group.- Biography :Danziger was born in Berlin in 1916 to a Zionist family...

     (1916-77), sculptor
  • Nachum Gutman (1898-1980), painter, sculptor, author
  • Yaron London
    Yaron London
    -Biography:London was born in Tel Aviv in 1940 to actor Bezalel London .London studied in the Herzliya Hebrew High School and later left it for the agricultural boarding school HaKfar HaYarok. In 1961, after his service in the IDF, he moved to Jerusalem to study graphics at Bezalel Academy of Art...

     (born 1940), media personality, journalist, actor, songwriter
  • Avigdor Stematsky
    Avigdor Stematsky
    Avigdor Stematsky was a Russian-born Israeli painter. He is considered one of the pioneers of Israeli abstract art.-Biography:Stematsky was born in 1908 in Odessa. In 1922, he immigrated to Palestine and attended the Bezalel School of Art in Jerusalem from 1926 to 1928. He joined the Massad group...

     (1908-89), painter
  • Yehezkel Streichman
    Yehezkel Streichman
    Yehezkel Streichman was an Israeli painter. He is considered a pioneer of Israeli modernist painting. Among the awards that he won were the Dizengoff Prize and the Israel Prize.-Early life:Streichman was born in Kovno, Lithuania...

     (1906-93), painter

Notable faculty

  • Siona Shimshi
    Siona Shimshi
    Siona Shimshi is an Israeli painter, sculptor, ceramist, and textile designer.-Early life:Shimshi was born in Tel Aviv, to Haya Rivka and Avraham Shimshi, who had immigrated to Palestine from Lithuania in 1933...

     (born 1939), Israeli painter, sculptor, ceramist, textile designer

See also

Further reading

  • Gil Goldfine, “Zeev Raban and the Bezalel style,” Jerusalem Post, 12-14-2001
  • Dalia Manor, “Biblical Zionism in Bezalel Art,” Israel Studies 6.1 (2001) 55-75
  • The "Hebrew Style" of Bezalel, 1906–1929, Nurit Shilo Cohen, The Journal of Decorative and Propaganda Arts, Vol. 20. (1994), pp. 140–163
  • Manor, Dalia, Art in Zion: The Genesis of National Art in Jewish Palestine, published by Routledge Curzon (2005)
  • "Crafting a Jewish Style: The Art of the Bezalel Academy, 1906–1996", 2000-08-26 until 2000-10-22, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts

External sources