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 Joseph Zaritsky  (1891 - 1985)

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Lived/Active: Israel/Ukraine      Known for: painting

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from Auction House Records.
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Biography from Montefiore Auction House:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Joseph Zaritzky, painter, born 1891, Ukraine.  He lived in Amsterdam, Paris and Brussels, but mostly her lived in Jerusalem.  Between the years 1944-1947, he lived in Zikhron Ya'akov. In 1948, he became Chairman of the Association of Painters and Sculptors. He died in 1985.

After his arrival in Eretz Israel in 1923, it did not take long for Yossef Zaritsky to become one of the country's leading artists and critics, earning acclaim for his singular interpretation of the watercolors of Cezanne and the Russian symbolist Vroubel.   Standard bearer of the Universalists in their conflict with the Orientalists, he led the "New Horizons" group which grew out of the confrontation.  In this perspective, his watercolors were seen as a milestone on the road to modernism.

His watercolor portraits and still lives of the late 1920s and the 1930s reflect the influence of the French Intimists, and sometimes of Matisse.   From the mid-1930s to the mid-1940s he concentrated on one facet of the urban landscape, exploring the problems of painting in hundreds of watercolors of Tel Aviv rooftops, seen from his own roof and studio window.

Gradually flatness and abstraction took over, marking these works as a milestone both in Zaritsky's development and, because of their high quality, in Eretz Israel art.  Watercolor, popular among Eretz Israel artists both as the cheapest and the most suitable medium for conveying the transparency and light of the country, was the medium preferred by Zaritsky and many artists he influenced.   Among his students were Abramovic, Krize, Aroch, and Holzmann. 

The Kibbutz Yehiam series of oils and watercolors that Zaritsky created when he was teaching there in 1947-1949 constitute a central chapter in his work.  Here, we find the first example in Israel of lyrical abstraction, with its solid and amorphous structure, unity of color, material, and form, its restrained Expressionism, and its light coloration.  The high quality of the paintings, and the depth of their expression of human experience, all mark these works as a milestone in Israeli art.  In the early 1950s Zaritsky's paintings became more abstract and their subjects harder to decipher.

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