Schatz (1912 – 1978)
Bezalel (nicknamed “Lilik”) Schatz was an Israeli artist, son of Boris Schatz, founder
of the Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts in Jerusalem.
Born in 1912
to Boris Schatz, and his wife Olga, an art critic. From an early age, he
demonstrated considerable talent for gymnastics and music, but especially for
art. He grew up in a home in which artists were a constant presence, he was
introduced to Israel’s most prominent leaders, and the first public exhibition
of his artwork coincided with his Bar Mitzvah celebration. He attended the
Gymnasia in Jerusalem and at age 14 completed his studies at the Bezalel
In 1930, Bezalel
joined his father on a fundraising tour of Europe and the United States, where
they also exhibited their artwork and that of Bezalel students. Following his
father’s death in 1932, Bezalel left Israel for a period of about two decades.
He spent the first four years studying at the Grand Chaumiere Academy in Paris.
There, given the fairly conservative artistic views he had acquired at home and
school – where modernism was denounced – he had to pave his own way as an
artist among his peers.
Between 1937 and 1951, Bezalel resided in the
U.S. Near the end of WWII, he worked in a California shipyard, and it was there
he met his future wife, Louise. He was also introduced to the novelist Henry
Miller in California, and their friendship blossomed into a creative
collaboration. The artist May Ray recorded his observations about the two,
noting that “I have never encountered such smooth cooperation…” Bezalel produced
silkscreen prints for Miller’s novel, Into the Night Life, an innovation for
both the art and publishing worlds. In Florence, New Mexico, New York, San
Francisco, and other locations, Bezalel exhibited his own work and participated
in group shows with some of the greatest artists of his era – Picasso, Matisse,
Chagall, and Kokoschka.
Louise married in 1948 and moved to Israel three years later, taking residence
in the Schatz house in Jerusalem. Despite his long absence from Israel and his
conceptual conflicts with artists there, Bezalel mounted several exhibitions
and represented his native country abroad – in Germany and at Venice’s 1954
Biennale, for example. Together with Louise and his sister, Zohara, he
established the arts and crafts workshop, “Yad.” Objects created there today
are displayed and sold in a small building on the grounds of the family home on
Bezalel Street in Jerusalem. When the Ein Hod artists’ village was founded in
1953, Bezalel and Louise moved to a home designed for them there by Israeli
architect David Reznik. The couple melded easily into the village’s Bohemian
artistic life, which resembled the lifestyle they had adopted in California.
an easy-going, congenial man of whom Henry Miller remarked, “Bezalel is an incorrigible
optimist, the greatest optimist I ever met.” After his return to Israel, Bezalel’s
most pleasurable moments were in the company of his small family and most
intimate friends. He also continued to correspond with his friends in the U.S.
He refrained from expressing his intellectual insights, either verbally or in
writing, and never attempted to justify his work in any way. He was a
productive artist and craftsman – vigorous, sensitive, and curious – and he
contributed significantly to Israel’s aesthetic environment and art. His
inspiration flowed from many different sources, from primitive tribes, to
Biblical tales, Western art, the nature and history of Israel, and the symbols
of his homeland that had also inspired his father.
art work exemplified many different techniques. His early works adhered to the
realistic/academic style he learned at the Bezalel art school. Later, his
development was influenced by abstract art. His works included sketches,
prints, reliefs, copper engravings, applied art, graphic art, ceramics, and
Judaica. In the last decade of his life, his major artistic endeavor was mural
design. Among his public works were artwork for ships owned by the Israeli
company Zim, the gates at the entrance to the President’s Residence in
Jerusalem, and a fence in the courtyard area of the Western Wall.
The pat wall gallery opened its new show of paintings by Bezalel Schatz on Sunday, May 3rd with a pleasant and informal gallery gathering. The large impressionistic oils by the Palestinian artist are of the purest colors and of the most intense values. He uses almost no grays or intermediate browns.
These vivid swirling canvasses are quite overpowering decorations against the gray and chart...