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June 26, 2012 4:46 pm

Israeli Artist Yaacov Agam’s Work Joins Picasso and Matisse in France

avatar by Atara Arbesfeld

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Work by Yaakov Agam in the Centre Pompidou, Paris. Photo: emmrichard on Flickr.

Renowned Israeli kinetic artist and sculptor Yaacov Agam is currently displaying his artwork with the Centre Pompidou mobile, a traveling museum exhibition in France. His work will be touring the country in the Centre Pompidou’s first installation exhibition celebrating the masterworks of twentieth century artists analyzing color and form – including art from Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Georges Braque. Being the only Israeli artist to be showcased in the presentation, Agam will also be meeting with the public during the tour.

A tribute to Agam’s masterpiece painting Double Metamorphosis kicked off the Centre Pompidou mobile tour’s opening in Boulogne sur Mer last week, with local officials as well as members and ministers of parliament in attendance. The tour, which will take place over a three month period from June until September, includes stops in Chaumont, Boulogne-sur-Mer, Le Havre, Libourne, Nantes, and Aubagne.  The Centre Pompidou mobile will also be unveiling the debut of a new art school.

Born Yaakov Gipstein in 1928 in Rishon LeTzion, then part of Palestine under British mandate,  Agam received no formal schooling and was immersed in the traditions of his kabbalist father Rabbi Yehoshua Gibstein, a pious ascetic devoted to fasting and prayer. Nevertheless, Agam credited being raised in the land of Israel, as well his father, for influencing his spiritual beliefs and his art in a 1962 introduction to an album of his works:

“I should like to emphasize three important factors which I regard as basic to all my research and to my whole work: the fact of having been raised on the soil of Israel, a soil rich in traditions… which have all to be recreated in a new way in order to find their place in modern life; the fact of being the son of a rabbi, who has tried all his life to dissociate the spirit from physical matter; the fact of having become acquainted with the Kabbala and pursuing a quest for inner truth.”

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After first studying at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Sculpture in Jerusalem, he moved to Zurich, Switzerland in 1949 to study at the Kunstgewerbe Schule under the  Swiss expressionist and color theorist Johannes Itten. There, Agam was also influenced by the geometric abstracts of Swiss painter and sculptor Max Bill. Two years later, he relocated to Paris, where he resides to this day. The fountains in the La Defense district in the French capital were constructed by Agam in 1975.

The most famous work by Agam was his invention of the Agamograph, which implemented lenticular printing, a method which incorporates different images that can be viewed when viewing the painting at different angles, in his paintings – including Double Metamorphosis III.   Other famous works by Agam include the Fire and Water Fountain in Dizengoff Square in Tel Aviv, and a thirty-two foot high steel Menorah on 59th St. and Fifth Avenue in New York City sponsored by the Chabad Lubavitch Youth Organization.

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