Israeli Culture's Top Ten

Israeli Art's No. 1: Suzanne Landau

Director and Chief Curator of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art - Suzanne Landau, 67.

Suzanne Landau. Illustration by Leo Atelman
Leo Atelman

Two years ago, Suzanne Landau completed her tenure as chief art curator at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, where she had worked for more than three decades and been among the founders of its Department of Contemporary Art. She moved to Tel Aviv and stepped into the shoes of the most influential person in the local art world, the late Professor Mordechai Omer. Like her predecessor, she also holds two positions – chief curator and director, though she has yet to curate an exhibition in Tel Aviv.

In her previous position, Landau was known for her scrupulous management, the rich and successful collection of international contemporary art that she put together and for organizing large-scale exhibitions. Her taste and choices are already evident In her new position, primarily in the museum's new building. Landau certainly stands for contemporary art that is international, monumental, mesmerizing, well-made and technologically up to date in new forms of media. Among the work that reflects this is the presentation of the video trilogy And Europe Will Be Stunned, by Israeli artist Yael Bartana, in the Helena Rubinstein Pavilion. It was first shown in the Polish pavilion at the last Venice Biennale, and acquired in conjunction with the Solomon Guggenheim Foundation. Also reflective of Landau’s taste are the exhibit by Belgian video artist David Claerbout; the monumental exhibition of works by Scottish artist Douglas Gordon, which was spread over seven spaces in the museum, much more than was planned by the previous curator; thematic and lighthearted exhibitions of works by young curators at the museum; the launch of a series of video exhibitions by young artists and the presentation of an exhibit on the works of Israeli-French artist Avshalom, marking the 20th anniversary of his death.

Based on Landau's past work, we can expect to see a growing presence of international contemporary artists in the museum, something that has been missing up to now. Among the potential names are Jeff Wall and Anri Sala. We can also expect to see an increase in the exhibition of hitherto neglected types of media, such as video, sound, installations and more. At the same time, we should watch for Landau's curatorial and administrative influence on Israeli art and local artists, including the mounting of retrospective exhibitions and giving exposure to prominent young artists.

From her previous workplace, she brings extensive experience in fundraising and fostering international ties. In an interview with the Haaretz’s Galleria section on taking over her new position, she revealed her plans for both closing gaps in the museum's collection and expanding it, upgrading the sculpture garden, blending Israeli and international art while giving exposure to young artists, taking risks, keeping the museum open until midnight once a month and more. However, no major structural changes at the museum are currently evident; no new subscriptions or shifts in the current staff, who have held the same positions for many years.