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April 28: Avigdor Arikha

April 28, 2013

Avigdor+Arikha+the+red+umbrellaPainter Avigdor Arikha, who was rescued as a boy by the Red Cross from a Nazi labor camp in the Ukraine — a camp that he sketched in fragments on butcher paper — was born in Czernowitz, Romania on this date in 1929. Arikha studied art in Jerusalem and was nearly killed in the Israeli War of Independence, 1948. He recovered and went to Paris, where he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts and spent much of the remainder of his life. Although successful by the 1960s as an abstract artist, he gave up abstraction and became internationally known, according to the New York Times, for “his depictions of his immediate orbit: the view from his studio window, chairs and tables, clothing and other orderly household things. He was also a portraitist, painting his friends and family as well as luminaries,” including Samuel Beckett, a close friend in Paris, Catherine Deneuve, and the British Queen Mother. Arikha worked only in natural daylight. He also lectured widely on art. In 2005, he was made a chevalier of the Legion of Honor by the French government.

“Deeply influenced by Asian art, Mr. Arikha liked to paint fast, in a Zenlike state of consciousness. This transcendent state let art flow out of him so freely that he typically finished a whole canvas in a single sitting.” —Margalit Fox, New York Times