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So common is the watermelon as a motif in Israeli art that in November 2009 it was the theme of an exhibition at the Rubin Museum in Tel Aviv. The show’s co-curator, Carmela Rubin, says the idea came to her after she saw a number of works featuring that motif.

One of the earliest appearances of the watermelon in local art is in Reuven Rubin’s 1923 triptych “First Fruits,” which was shown at...