MembersTaking on the Leftist Israeli Art Establishment

“Today to be an artist you must also be a leftist. Those not identifying with the left usually keep their mouths shut.”

By Tsvi Sadan | | Topics: CULTURE
Photo: Courtesy Smadar Katz

The collective resentment of Israeli artists toward Minister of Culture Miri Regev raises questions about “artistic activism,” and what it does to art itself. The purpose of the art magazine Erev Rav, for example, is to facilitate a multi-cultural, democratic, pluralistic discussion on culture. Simply put, Erev Rav is supports the notion of turning Israel into a democratic non-Jewish state.

As I learned while conducting the following interview with Smadar Katz, the Israeli art scene is dominated by progressives who decide what kind of art to which Israelis will be exposed in the nation’s museums and other public venues. Katz is considered one of the best portrait painters and art teachers in Israel, and she has instructed an estimated 10,000 at her modest art school in Tel Aviv. “My job,” she told me, “is to make people’s dreams come true.”

Katz’s favorite topic is nude women, which often gets her into trouble. Most galleries, she says, are afraid of offending religious customers, and their owners are embarrassed to display the nude paintings....

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