The Goldfish Vendor.
Perhaps the most iconic of Israeli artists, Reuven Rubin (born Reuven Zelicovici to a hasidic family in Galatz, Romania) attended Jerusalem’s Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts in 1912. Finding the school’s approach too rigid, he subsequently studied in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Académie Colarossi. A pioneer of Israeli art, Rubin’s work is characterized by radiant colors, naive proportions and youthful spirit capturing both Jewish and Israeli folkloric themes. In 1932, the Tel Aviv Museum was opened with a solo exhibition of his paintings. Rubin was the first Israeli artist to win broad, international recognition. An oft-seen motif in Rubin’s work from the 1920’s and on, is that of the fish and fisherman, depicted alongside the Sea of Galilee or the shores of the Mediterranean. The artist’s daughter, Carmela Rubin, has suggested that this theme alludes to Alexander Pushkin’s fairy tale in verse ‘The Tale of the Fisherman and the Fish’ wherein a golden fish is caught by a fisherman and promises to fulfill any wish in exchange for its freedom. The fish theme is also a traditional symbol of fertility and abundance, and a metaphor of the eternality of the Jewish People. Rubin’s prolific career was similarly abundant - the ongoing catalogue raisonne project undertaken by the Rubin Museum, Tel Aviv, documents an estimated 1,800 oil paintings and sculptures. <<Provenance: >>Acquired from the artist’s widow, 1983. <<Exhibited: >>The Jewish Museum, New York, The Batkin Collection of Israeli Art (1985). Catalogue p. 27.