Is it possible that the highlight of the current art season will be works by none other than Reuven Rubin? With two new exhibitions in the country's two leading museums - the Israel Museum in Jerusalem and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art - featuring 40 unknown paintings in the former venue and 110 well-known works in the latter, and accompanied by two new thick catalogs, the senior painter of the Land of Israel is about to experience a mini-renaissance such as he has not known for many years, in fact since the retrospective held in 1966, in the Tel Aviv Museum.
At the center of the Rubin festival is the exhibition in the Israel Museum: "Prophets and Visionaries: Reuven Rubin's Early Years, 1914-23," which is scheduled to open today (November 17) and reveals for the first time the Romanian chapter in his work: the nine years which began with his return to Romania from New York and ended with his decision to resettle in Palestine. These are considered the years of Rubin's apprenticeship, but are virtually unknown and have all but been consigned to oblivion. Now Amitai Mendelsohn, associate curator of the museum's department of Israeli art, is putting on display 40 dark and slightly depressing works done by Rubin in this period, which Mendelsohn describes as "Rubin's religious paintings."
In his life, Rubin thought less of the work he did in his Romanian period than he did of his Palestine and Israeli oeuvre. More than 100 works of the pre-state period will go on display on November 21st in the Tel Aviv Museum, in an exhibition entitled "Dreamland: Reuven Rubin and his Encounter with the Land of Israel in His Paintings of the 1920s and 1930s." The curator is Carmela Rubin, the artist's daughter-in-law, who is also the director of the Rubin Museum in Tel Aviv.
"Here in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and Tiberias I feel myself reborn," Rubin wrote in 1926. "Only here do I feel that life and nature are mine. The gray clouds of Europe have disappeared. My sufferings and the war too are ended. All is sunshine, clear light and happy, creative work. As the desert revives and blooms under the hands of the pioneers, so do I feel awakening in me all [my] latent energies" (from Rubin's autobiography, "Rubin, My Life, My Art," originally published in English in New York, 1969; quoted in the catalog of the Israel Museum exhibition).
The exhibition in Jerusalem is the result of rigorous research and of cooperation between Carmela Rubin and Mendelsohn, who were able to locate paintings by the artist which were never exhibited anywhere since being sold early in the last century. But even more difficult than finding these unknown works, Rubin notes, was persuading collectors to lend them. "For three years I traveled and asked and importuned, and in the end less than what I wanted arrived: Ten paintings from the United States and from London and Germany. Two works from the early 1920s that were donated to Brandeis University will now be on public display for the first time."
In the course of her peregrinations, Rubin met with a Frenchman who recently inherited oil paintings from his grandmother and discovered that they were signed by a painter named Rubin. It turned out that the man's French grandmother was married to a Romanian Jew who lived in New York in 1921.
"These are four paintings and a plaster sculpture whose existence we didn't know about, because they were not documented anywhere, even though Rubin was careful to keep a record and photograph his paintings," Carmela Rubin says. "The man found the Internet site of the Rubin Museum and wrote to us, and he subsequently sent the paintings. From the distance of years there are still paintings that crop up surprisingly."
Reuven Rubin is considered the central and representative artist of the 1920s and 1930s in Israeli art. In terms of his portraits, and particularly his self-portraits, he had no competitors. According to art expert Dr. Gideon Ofrat, Rubin's 1923 triptych, "First Fruits," is "one of the most important paintings ever done in this country."
Rubin's importance is also apparent in the prices his works command. In an auction of Israeli art held at Sotheby's in New York last March, two Rubins fetched impressive prices: "Jerusalem with Mount Scopus" (1927) went for $419,200 (the presale estimate was $180,000-250,000) and "The Road to Jerusalem, Ein Karem" (1925) was sold for $329,600, also well above the presale estimate.
As a figurative, secular, Tel Aviv-based artist, Rubin documented the building of the city on the seashore, while also painting the landscapes of Jerusalem and Safed, in which he gave expression to the mystical and spiritual side of Jewish life and of his own life (he usually signed his paintings with the name Reuven alone). As a pioneer of Land of Israel art, Rubin understood the need to consolidate an indigenous art in the country. It is not by chance that his paintings in the 1920s and the 1930s tended toward a naive and slightly childish style. "I like bright colors with a great deal of light. In my paintings the landscape of the country is reflected as I see it," he reiterated in interviews.
The dream world of his paintings contains no hint of the harsh conditions that prevailed in Palestine on the eve of Israel's creation, nor of the great rift between Arabs and Jews.
"I do not perceive him as an important element in the history of Israeli art," says artist and critic Raffi Lavie, "and I do not think he had an influence on the Israeli painting which developed here from the 1960s. What I do like very much are his works from the 1920s and the 1930s. They are very beautiful, with a great deal of character, even as compared to international art. It's true that his works lagged behind a little, because works like those were already done at the end of the 19th century, but they are very beautiful. What he did afterward was, in my opinion, kitsch and garbage, paintings to sell mainly to the Yiddelech in America, the olive trees and so forth. The paper works with 'spritzes' that look like technique were cheap gimmicks."
Rubin's work from 1920 is well known and indeed has its critics, but hardly anyone is familiar with the Romanian period. "Of the earlier Rubin, the Rubin before Palestine, I know but little. And in this, it seems, I am not alone," one of his greatest admirers, poet Haim Nahman Bialik, wrote in Haaretz in 1926 (quoted in the Israel Museum catalog). Bialik was not the only one: Rubin's pre-Zionist chapter has effectively been neglected, not to say excluded from his oeuvre.
"These paintings were left in the obscurity of the storeroom, because they were not appropriate to the story of Israeli art and to Rubin's place within that history," says Mendelsohn, who five years ago found a Rubin self-portrait from 1921 and decided to find out why it had never been exhibited. "The work of the 'Romanian' Rubin was suffused with romanticism and symbolism of the beginning of the century in Europe ... He created a kind of original art which fuses symbolism and romanticism with messages related to Zionism and Judaism, and also to Christendom and the figure of Jesus. That subject preoccupied him during this period."
What was his attitude toward Jesus?
Mendelsohn: "In the self-portrait of 1921 it is possible to see his identification with the tormented Jesus. In a letter to a friend in Paris, dated May 22, 1922, he wrote: 'The nails in the hands and feet of Jesus are burning me, and my sufferings no one can grasp.' It was unusual for a Jewish artist to identify with the figure of Jesus" (quotation from the Israel Museum catalog).
How far did this identification go?
"In the painting 'The Encounter,' from 1922, he draws a parallel between the Diaspora Jew and the figure of Jesus, and I maintain that Jesus, as perceived by Rubin, is a symbol of the Zionist renewal in the Land of Israel and of the Zionist movement in the world. As a Zionist artist, Rubin took Jesus' image to directions related to Zionism, something that only Uri Zvi Greenberg and Avraham Shlonsky did in poetry. In his poem 'Yerushalayim shel mata' ('The Earthly Jerusalem'), of 1924, Greenberg calls on Jesus to come out of the monasteries and go to the Valley of Jezreel. In 'The Madonna of the Vagabonds,' from 1922, Rubin posited the infant Jesus as the symbol of reborn Zionism on the soil of Palestine.
"Moreover, in 'Self-Portrait with a Flower,' from 1923, the first year of his immigration to Palestine, Rubin painted himself in a white pioneer's garment, sitting against the background of the dunes of Tel Aviv, his look piercing and confident, and in his hand is a white flower, a white lily, which is the symbol of Mary, mother of Jesus. When the angel tells Mary about her miraculous pregnancy, he is holding a white lily. The last time Jesus appears in [Rubin's] work, after being absent for 24 years, is in a 1950 painting, 'The First Seder,' in which Jesus is sitting at the festive meal with the artist's family and his friends, with a rabbi leading the event - this after the establishment of the Jewish state. Jesus' hands are spread out, as though displaying the stigmata, but this time he is giving a blessing and perhaps endorsement of the fledgling state."
"One of the most interesting things," Carmela Rubin notes, "is that Rubin, who was secular, was actually a Hasidic Jew from a Hasidic family, which was something deeply ingrained in the complexity of that generation. Even though they became secular, deep down they held on to the tradition they imbibed at home."
He was born in November 1893 as Reuven Zelicovici, the eighth child of a poor Hasidic family, in Galatz, southeastern Romania, a city that had a large Jewish population and which at the end of the 19th century was the center of the Zionist movement in the country.
In his autobiography, Rubin describes the wretched conditions and notes that his mother, Faige, a rabbi's daughter who married at the age of 15 in an arranged match, did not remember how many children she had, and used to say she had "13 or 14 children." He himself, he wrote, was the eighth or ninth child - but in any event only three children survived: Reuven, one brother and one sister. His father, "Rebbe Yoel," as he was known, had no steady employment and served as a cantor and beadle in the synagogue. Also living in their home was the sister of the children's mother, Itta; it was she who raised Rubin. He related that he began to paint at the age of three in the heder, the one-room religious school for boys, and that his first step as an artist came when a friend of his brother's, who had a subscription to a children's magazine, sent a few of his paintings to the magazine, which printed them and even sent a small payment.
It was not until he was 10 that Rubin saw a color reproduction of a painting, when the same friend of his brother brought him a catalog of the Louvre. At home, it hardly needs to be said, he did not get any encouragement. His parents took no interest in his love of painting, and his mother sometimes took paintings he made on pieces of paper that he found, to wrap cheese or cover the milk.
In his autobiography, Rubin recalls that he drew on the walls that had been whitewashed for Pesach and was pummeled by his mother for it. In the winter of 1903, the famed Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem came to Galatz to give a public reading, and Rubin, who did not have the money for a ticket, waylaid him outside the hall and persuaded him to give a reading in his class. The reading took place by candlelight.
In the meantime, the rumors about Rubin's artistic ability spread by word of mouth through the quarter. There were 16 synagogues on the Jewish street in Galatz, and when one of them asked him to draw a mizrah - a ritual decoration designating the east, so that congregants would know which way to face in prayer - he produced a painting of flowers, trees and birds that became the talk of the quarter. He excelled in school and won a prize. A sailor suit was made for him to wear at the ceremony, using a white dress of his sister's, but on the day of the event, July 3, 1904, Theodor Herzl, the founder of political Zionism died, and the ceremony was postponed. Rubin wrote that because of this event the prize lost its value for him, but it got him a government scholarship. He excelled again in the Romanian gymnasia (high school), in which he was the only Jew in his class, though he did his senior year in a Jewish high school.
At the age of 15, he started to earn a living as the bookkeeper of a wine shop. At night he devoured books and dreamed of art. In a 1970 interview, he related that the first person to buy one of his artworks was a gentile who passed "by the courtyard in which I was working and was impressed by two paintings of Jewish types and offered me the equivalent of $400." His father, though, remained indifferent when Rubin showed him the hefty payment, saying, "Where will you find a buyer like that again?"
When he reached maturity he persuaded his father to move to Falticeni, the town where his paternal grandmother lived. They lived in a small house and had a small farm, and for the first time their constant distress was somewhat alleviated. Thus Rubin was able to realize his dream of visiting Palestine. In 1911, to his surprise, he received a sum of money from Dr. Adolf Stander, a Zionist leader, who had seen paintings of his and wanted to buy them. Stander recommended Rubin to Boris Schatz, the director of the Bezalel School of Art in Jerusalem, and Schatz sent a letter in Hebrew inviting Rubin to study at the institute. In February 1912, he set out for Palestine, equipped with tefillin (phylacteries) and food baked by his mother. He thought, as he wrote in his book, that the art school in Jerusalem would see to all his needs.
Bezalel turned out to be a crushing disappointment. At first it was agreed that Rubin would specialize in carving ivory. Everyone then made a living by creating handmade souvenirs, including those who enrolled in the painting and sculpture department, which in practice did not function. The studies were tedious, Rubin wrote, noting that he had not come to Jerusalem to engage in carving or other handicrafts. Despairing, he fomented a revolt which fizzled out, and was unable to find solace in the school's meager library either. He decided to leave Palestine in favor of Paris.
Rubin enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and for the first time encountered the work of Michelangelo, Rembrandt and Leonardo da Vinci, and met the sculptor Auguste Rodin. He was recommended as a candidate for the Rome Prize, but did not have enough money to pay for a model, so he did a self-portrait. Years later he noted that the painting was greatly influenced by Delacroix, whose works Rubin studied for hours on end at the Louvre.
He flourished in Paris. His work was exhibited in the salon of French artists, he felt involved in the life of the city, grew his hair long and lived a bohemian life. He signed his paintings with his Romanian name (16 years later he changed his name officially to Reuven Rubin). The idyllic Paris interlude ended abruptly when World War I broke out, on July 28, 1914, and he hurried home to Romania, where he found his parents in dire economic straits.
In Romania, he worked in his uncle's leather-tanning workshop, occasionally managing to travel in Europe and to sell paintings (in Switzerland he met the symbolist Ferdinand Hodler, who influenced him deeply). However, the war exacted a heavy toll on the family, as the children died one after another; Rubin himself, at his father's request, became entangled in a project to establish a small factory to produce plum jam. After emerging from the fiasco with debts, he decided to ignore the family's expectations and concentrate on painting. He traveled to Czernowitz, the capital of Bukovina (which was annexed to Romania after the war), where he became close to the expressionist painter Arthur Kolnik. For a year and a half, he and Kolnik were inseparable. Rubin wrote that in Czernowitz he painted a series of large works of a symbolist nature, in pale reds, noting that this was perhaps because he was still afraid of color.
He painted a great deal and also sold works, until one day he heard from an American tourist about New York and the flourishing art scene there. He and Kolnik packed their things, including paintings and sculptures, and set sail for America. The sight of the Statue of Liberty moved him to tears, he wrote, and the soaring skyscrapers left him literally gaping, and after the initial sense of amazement wore off, he felt dwarfed.
With the help of a relative he found a place on the Lower East Side. He was utterly thrilled by a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A key event of this period was his meeting with the photographer, editor and gallery owner Alfred Stieglitz, whose name is linked with the birth of Modernism in American art and culture. Stieglitz came to see Rubin's paintings and was so impressed that he immediately invited the art dealer Joseph Duveen (who built up the collections of Hearst, Rockefeller and others) to meet him. From here the way was short to an exhibition at Stieglitz's Anderson Galleries in November 1921. Rubin exhibited more than 60 oils and about 15 sculptures at the show, which was sponsored by the Romanian ambassador. Rubin felt that he could now return to Romania.
He rented an apartment in Bucharest, and went back to painting. The studio was an empty garage with a large oven in the center, and Rubin, who according to Carmela Rubin, his daughter-in-law, had style, arranged the place with fine bohemian taste and started to host fellow artists. In 1921 he was invited to design a poster for Keren Hayesod - the first such poster since the Balfour Declaration four years earlier. Two years later, he decided to leave Romania and return to Palestine.
Amitai Mendelsohn believes that Rubin's first year back in Palestine was "a transition year between the Romanian-European style to his Palestine painting. Rubin possessed a kind of great self-importance. He viewed himself as the bearer of the new artistic message, as is apparent in his painting 'Moses and the Burning Bush,' in which he is depicted as Moses pointing to himself as the prophet of the new law."
You note in the catalog that in letters he wrote during this period he dealt with the art situation in Palestine.
Mendelsohn: "Yes, and he also bemoans the state of the Bezalel school, which was the central artistic institution in the country at that time, hinting that it was corrupt. 'No one has the courage to get up and sweep away all of the merchants and peddlers from within the temple. The temple must be cleaned!' he wrote to a friend in Paris [quoted in the Israel Museum catalog], portraying himself as the bearer of new tidings for Israeli art."
Rubin settled in Jerusalem. At first, he spent hours in the studio of the sculptor Avraham Melnikov (creator of the "Roaring Lion" at Tel Hai) next to Damascus Gate, and then rented a room in the Yemin Moshe neighborhood. He later discovered the vibrant new city of Tel Aviv, which was being built with great momentum, and decided to live there, close to the sea. In Tel Aviv, he became friends with painters Israel Paldi, Sionah Tagger and Arieh Lubin, and with dancer and artist Baruch Agadati. Subsequently, he found an abandoned building adjacent to Jaffa, which he rented for a song, and set up a kind of commune for artists, New York-style. But he himself forgot all about New York.
"In Palestine there was sunshine, the sea, the pioneers with their bronzed faces and open shirts, the Yemenite girls, and children with enormous eyes," he wrote in his autobiography (quoted in the Israel Museum catalog). "A new country, a new life was springing up around me. I felt the sap of creative energy rising in me, too. I threw away all the ideas I had derived from the Bezalel art school and the Paris Beaux Arts. The world around became clear and pure to me. Life was stark, bare, primitive. I did not feel burdened by problems and I found it easy to work. I painted as a bird sings, without effort, joyfully."
On March 9, 1924, his one-man exhibition opened at the Tower of David in the Old City of Jerusalem. It was Rubin's idea to hold the exhibition there - such events were rarely held on the premises - and he himself first made the request to Ronald Storrs, the British governor of the city, who was a culture lover and even bought one of the pictures on show.
Rubin exhibited the paintings he had done during his first year in the country. His new Land-of-Israel style was already apparent in them, though fused with the old style, marked by religious symbolism, which he had developed in Romania. Everyone was amazed, apart from the high commissioner of Palestine, Herbert Samuel, who thought the works were too "revolutionary" and unsuited for exhibition at the Tower of David.
The exhibition moved to Tel Aviv, where it was mounted in the Gymnasia Herzliya high school and seen by many youngsters. However, Rubin felt that the cultural climate in Palestine was too constricted. As an artist, he lacked professional criticism and contact with an audience that loved art for its own sake, he later wrote. This intellectual paucity prompted him to pack his things again and return to Europe. At first he resided briefly in Bucharest, where he drew praise for his new style and the distinctive Palestine light that suddenly shone from his paintings. He designed stage sets for the Jewish theater in the city and spent time with the poet Itzik Manger.
Toward the end of 1924, he went to Paris again and found a small studio for himself. He befriended the sculptor Chana Orloff and held his first exhibition in the city, at the Marcel Bernheim Gallery. Artistically and commercially alike, this was the juncture at which he became a household name. His paintings were received as a distinctive expression of an artist from Palestine, and in his paintings, critics wrote, a new style was born, neither Jewish nor Hebrew, but something else.
Rubin's new renown led collectors from the United States and Germany to buy his works. His stay in Paris and the encounter with the works of Picasso and Matisse enriched him, but after a time he understood that it would be better if he were not assimilated into French culture and he decided to return to Tel Aviv.
There he rented an apartment by the sea and sent money to his mother and his younger sister, both of whom joined him in Palestine. In 1926, he exhibited new works at the Tower of David and also in a private home in Tel Aviv, which had no galleries. The exhibition was accompanied by a catalog for which Bialik wrote the opening article, which was also published in Haaretz. This was the only article on art written by the "national poet," who also declined to receive a painting by Rubin as a gift and insisted on paying the full price of eight pounds for it. In the wake of this exhibition, Rubin himself wrote, his living conditions in Tel Aviv improved; he added that the city was by now a kind of Montparnasse of its own, with lively cafes where people gathered.
In 1928, after his friends in Paris were unable to find a gallery to exhibit his new works, Rubin organized his second visit to New York, where he held his second show in the city and also met Helena Rubinstein, the cosmetics tycoon, who purchased two of his paintings. The boat trip back to Palestine, in March 1929, was fateful.
He had money and bought a first-class ticket. Aboard he saw a beautiful young woman dressed as a college student. Nineteen-year-old Esther Davis was on her way to Palestine, having won the ticket as a prize in a competition in which she spoke about the meaning of Palestine. Within a few minutes of meeting her, he proposed. He was about 35, not especially good looking, but tall and imposing. She said no and went her way, but not long afterward he met her again on Allenby Street in Tel Aviv. She was standing next to the well-known photography shop Pri'or, where his portrait was on display alongside portraits of other well-known people in the Yishuv (the Palestine Jewish community). They were married a year later in Tel Aviv. Their honeymoon began in Egypt, from where they went to Paris and London (where he had an exhibition in a gallery), then on to New York, where he had a show in Montrose Gallery on Fifth Avenue.
Esther and Reuven Rubin were an item in Tel Aviv, one of those couples who make a big city what it is. Their apartment on Bialik Street was a bustling social center where the guests included visitors from abroad whom Rubin had met in his travels, as well as public figures, artists and intellectuals.
"This was not the result of public relations," says Hava Gamzu, the widow of Dr. Haim Gamzu, who was one of the founders of the Tel Aviv Museum and the long-time authoritative art critic of Haaretz. "There was something in his personality that created an atmosphere. It was pleasant and interesting to visit with them. I contradict those who say it was due to Esther Rubin. Esther was his creation and they lived together in harmony and without doubt she became his helpmate."
What kind of person was Reuven Rubin?
Gamzu: "Reuven was one of the smartest people I knew. I always thought he was an extraordinary person, very warm. He was far from floating about in the sky as an artist, although like all artists he was self-centered and liked to tell stories about what was happening to him, and endless interesting things happened to him ... He was a lucky person, but he also had exceptional wisdom and practicality, and was of course able to extract from and make the best of his luck. That is seen in his biography. He was young and optimistic, so at the age of 74 he built a home in Caesarea, which showed the very young view of life he had."
Esther and Reuven had two children, David (who is married to Carmela), a businessman, and Ariella Genigar, a family therapist (and the wife of the owner of Herzliya Studios, Ami Genigar). The children of David and Carmela, Gidi and Michal, are also involved in art. Gidi Rubin, 32, is a well-regarded painter who has already had solo exhibitions in Tel Aviv and next year will have one in his city of residence, London, and in New York. Michal Rubin, 28, is a photographer who lives in New York.
Rubin had never been highly regarded by his fellow artists or by the critics, and over time his status only declined. In March 1933, there was a one-man show of his works in the Tel Aviv Museum; in 1966 the same institution mounted a Rubin retrospective, but the honor he received was hollow. The Israel Prize, which he received in 1973, a year before his death, could no longer be of much help.
Carmela Rubin tells about the long years in which Rubin was rejected by the local art establishment. "From personal knowledge I know how much this pained him," she says. "It was a bitter pill for him not to be invited to take part in the opening exhibition of the Israel Museum in 1965. In those days the Land-of-Israel romanticism was out of favor."
Artist Yosl Bergner, 86, recalls a great good deed that Rubin did for him: When Bergner came to Israel from America, in 1950, "I wanted to hold an exhibition of my paintings at the Tel Aviv Artists' House, but they didn't want to let me. They also told said no at Katz Gallery on Dizengoff Street. They said I was a Diaspora painter. I went to visit Reuven and he organized an exhibition for me, and we remained friends. He was a fine person with a lot of humor. Once I painted four small pictures on one canvass and he asked me why I didn't do each of them on a separate canvass and make more money. We were friends even though I painted in the opposite style from him. When the Israel Museum opened they didn't want either him or me in the inaugural exhibition. He suffered from that; I didn't."
Part of the critical perception of Rubin as a kitsch artist may be due to the fact that he was not a political person. He was identified with Mapai, the ruling party (forerunner of Labor), was a Knesset candidate on its behalf and at David Ben-Gurion's request was Israel's first ambassador to Romania, after the state was established. However, according to Carmela Rubin, "he was not a political person. He was a person who swam with the current and he naturally took it for granted that there were no Arabs in the country. I don't think he delved very deeply into the subject."
Amitai Mendelsohn, the curator of the Israel Museum exhibition, does not object to the argument that Rubin became the symbol of an ideal Israel in which there is no conflict and which is devoid of Arabs. "Rubin painted an idealization of the country," he says, "and in his last years his paintings became a type of cliche. One could say that he painted kitsch in the latter part of his life, but the paintings that are on display in the Israel Museum reflect resilience of spirit and a more personal dimension. In this sense they differ from the idealistic representation of the later years."
However irrelevant Rubin was in the artistic realm, Carmela Rubin emphasizes, "he was popular and many people came to buy his paintings. There was schizophrenia between his popularity and his absence from the arena, but he made a living from his painting over the years."
In 1967, Rubin and Esther, who is 97 today, built a second home in Caesarea but continued to live in their home on Bialik Street in Tel Aviv until the artist's death, from cancer, on October 13, 1974. "On the day of his death he made a farewell drawing in which a figure is seen that seems to be losing hold, and the figure has the facial features of Reuven between a pair of wings," Carmela recalls. "That ink drawing was a kind of declaration that he was leaving. He died at night."
Rubin was buried in the old cemetery on Trumpeldor Street. He left the Bialik Street house to the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality, which in 1983 opened it to the public as the Rubin Museum (www.rubinmuseum.org.il). Today, Carmela Rubin, who studied law at Tel Aviv University, art at Tufts University in Boston and museology at Tel Aviv University, and has been the curator of the exhibitions at the Rubin Museum for more than 20 years, is happy with the artist's "conquest" of the country's two major museums. She chose to open the catalog for the Tel Aviv Museum exhibition, which she curated herself, with a quotation from S.Y. Agnon, Israel's only recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature: "More than they saw the land, all the storytellers that the land of Israel has had, from the days of Ze'ev Yavetz to Moshe Smilensky, saw in their souls what they wanted the land to show them." W