TA City Hall: Gutman Mosaic Destined for Ritzy Office Tower Courtyard

Pieces of a mosaic by artist Nachum Gutman, which had disappeared from Bialik Square, were temporarily placed in a Tel Aviv garbage-truck parking lot while the square was being rehabilitated, a city official said yesterday.

Haaretz reported yesterday that the mosaic slabs were found in the garbage truck lot at the corner of Derekh Hashalom and Hahaskala Boulevard, leaning on a brick wall behind a bus stop and a rusty barbed-wire fence.

Deputy Planning Director Eran Avrahami said Bialik Square was being restored to its original look in the 1920s before the mosaic was placed in it. Gutman's mosaic would be moved to the plaza outside a new building being erected by property developer Africa-Israel on Rothschild Boulevard, he said.

He did not know when this building would be completed.

He said the Italian company that created the original mosaic had transferred it to the parking lot and would also move it to its new location and renovate it.

He said the mosaic was under watch 24 hours a day.

Gutman's son, Menachem, told Haaretz that the family had been part of the plan to move the mosaic. "They consulted with us, and we agreed to it," he said. The mosaic had not been damaged by the move.

"I chose the new place from several that were suggested to us," he said.

Nahum Gutman Museum curator Tali Tamir said people had complained in the '70s that the vertical mosaic slates in the square's fountain were hiding the municipality building. "But at the time the mayor supported the artist and said it was the artist's design, so no changes were made," she said.

The city asked the museum about a year and a half ago to move the mosaic slates.

"They renovated the square and wanted to restore it to its original form. The city appointed a committee of artists and architects, who recommended not to move the mosaic but to lower the slates, which stood in the center of the fountain," she said.

"In the end the city rejected the committee's decision. We recommended not to move the mosaic, but the family agreed to it," she said.

The municipality decided to relocate the Gutman mosaic to the end of Rothschild Boulevard, near the Nahum Gutman Museum and Neve Tzedek neighborhood, after consulting with the family, city spokesman Hillel Partok said yesterday.

The mosaic had been commissioned from Gutman by the city in 1971, after the city decided to convert the old city hall at Bialik Square into a historical museum.

The slates, created under Gutman's supervision in the renowned mosaic workshop of Ravenna, Italy, were installed in the pool built in the center of the small square.

The work, depicting Tel Aviv's history, became known as "Four Thousand Years of History."