Ruby Reuven

Chicken paper, ink

Rubin Reuven (Reuven Rubin; pseudonym, real name Zelikovich; (1893 – 1974), Israeli painter, graphic artist, theater artist, sculptor, poet, diplomat.

Born in Galati in Romania. In 1912 he went to Jerusalem and entered the Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts. In the years 1913-14. studied in Paris at the National Higher School of Fine Arts and at the Collarossi Academy. In 1916 he returned to Romania, in 1918 he settled in Chernivtsi, where he began his intense creative activity.

Rubin’s first solo exhibition in New York (1921) marked the beginning of the artist’s close ties with the United States. In 1922, Rubin settled in Jerusalem, then lived in Tel Aviv. In 1923, Rubin was one of the founders of the Association of Painters and Sculptors Eretz Yisrael. Soon Rubin became one of the leading Israeli painters.

Since 1930, he worked as a theater artist, mainly for Habima. In 1939 he went with a personal exhibition to the USA, where he found World War II. He returned to Eretz-Israel only in 1946. In 1948–50. was the first plenipotentiary ambassador of Israel in Romania.

Rubin’s first mature works (Temptation in the Desert, Tel Aviv, private collection; False Prophets, Grovnor Galery, London; both paintings – 1920) reflect the influence of F. Hodler, whom Rubin met in 1915 during trips to Switzerland. In Eretz Yisrael, his painting becomes more colorful, more decorative, the local theme prevails in it (The Boy on the Donkey, 1922, Paris, a private collection; Dance on Mount Meron, 1926, Tel Aviv, Rubin Museum). The influence of the artists of the Paris school — A. Russo, R. Dufy, and especially M. Chagall — is manifested. Since the mid-1920s Rubin’s palette is highlighted, the painting becomes more pasty, and the contours are less defined; paintings preserve the decorative sound. A steady circle of topics and plots appears: biblical (“Abraham receives three angels”, “Jacob’s Dream”, “David’s Entry into Jerusalem”), scenes from religious life (“The Torah’s Wedding”), genre scenes (“Fishermen”). Rubin refers to the landscape, and here he has preferences – views of the Galilee, especially Safed, but also of Jerusalem, mainly the view from the south to the Old City.

A prominent place in his work is occupied by floral still lifes.

The patriotic rise that came after the creation of the State of Israel captured Rubin. Already in the film “The First Seder in Jerusalem” (1950, Tel Aviv, Rubin Museum; in fact, a self-portrait with family and friends) one can feel pride in the victory of the people in the War of Independence. The embodiment of the exalted view of the Land of Israel is the landscape “The Magnificence of Galilee” (1965–66, Jerusalem, the building of the Knesset). And the victory in the Six Day War inspired the artist to the painting “The Spirit of God Returns to Jerusalem” (1967, private meeting of the Rubin family), where a Hasid (see Hasidism) with a Torah scroll in his hands crosses the wall of the Old City in holy ecstasy.

In Rubin’s late work, the intensity of the color, sometimes acquiring the luminosity of a stained glass window, increases (“Sunset in the Negev”, 1962–63, USA, private collection). It is no accident that it was precisely during these years that Rubin created stained-glass windows for the president’s palace in Jerusalem (1970): “Jacob fights with an angel”, “Elijah ascends to heaven in a chariot of fire” and “David’s entry into Jerusalem”.

Rubin is one of the most popular artists in Israel. Numerous exhibitions in Israel, the USA, France and other countries made his work widely known. A museum of his work has been opened in Tel Aviv. Rubin published an autobiography, “My Life is My Art” (New York, 1971).

In 1973, Rubin’s work was awarded the State Prize of Israel.

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