Arikha

Duncan Thomson, Author
Duncan Thomson, Author Phaidon Press $49.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-7148-3010-0
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Loss, displacement and the uncertainty of existence animate the edgy realist paintings and graphics of Romanian-born Israeli artist Avigdor Arikha. Deported at age 12 to a Nazi labor camp, where he made powerful pencil drawings of the unfolding nightmare, Arikha helped his mother and sister survive, but his father, brutally beaten, died of heart failure in 1942. The family was reunited in Palestine. As a soldier during Israel's war of independence, Arikha almost died. His life-enhancing art upsets conventional ways of seeing by discovering fragile beauty and unexpected meanings in taken-for-granted faces, interiors, streets and objects. His nudes are disquieting existential statements, as reflective as they are provocative. His 34-year friendship with Samuel Beckett nurtured his unblinking view of the human condition. Thomson, Keeper of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, has produced a perceptive, stunningly illustrated biographical-critical study. (July)
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