Danziger, Itzhak

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DANZIGER, ITZHAK (1916–1977), Israeli sculptor. Danziger was born in Berlin to Felix Danziger and Malka Rozenblit. His father worked as a surgeon in Hamburg and was active in the Zionist movement. In 1923 the family settled in Jerusalem. As a child Danziger studied at schools in Tel Aviv, Haifa, Berlin, and England. He studied sculpture at the Slade School of Fine Art, University of London. During these years he concentrated on the study of ancient cultures: Asia, Egypt, Africa, and India, especially by copying sculptures in the British Museum. In 1938 Danziger returned to Tel Aviv, where he set up a studio in his father's hospital. His studio became a meeting place and a workshop for young artists. Over the years Danziger spent time both in Israel and abroad. He created sculptures and memorials and designed gardens and environments. In 1968 he was awarded the Israel Prize.

His best-known sculpture is Nimrod (1938–39), placed in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. This sculpture may be seen as constituting a manifesto and indeed it became identified with the Canaanite movement although Danziger himself was never an official member of this movement. The source of this figure was the Bible: "Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the Lord" (Gen: 10:9). The meaning of the name in Hebrew is "rebellion," so Nimrod represents rebellion against the Lord. His figure is an antithesis of the typical image of a Jewish scholar. It symbolized the search for an alternative image, a new representation of an Israeli figure. The style of the sculpture was influenced by Mesopotamian reliefs and the choice of Nubian sandstone created the connection to local space as well as to biblical time. In the sketch for this sculpture Danziger designed the figure as a muscular giant but the sculpture itself became, after obsessive work, completely different. Gazing up, it represented an ancient idol.

Danziger was the inspiration for the second generation of Israeli artists and was considered a central figure in Israeli sculpture. He organized ecological acts, in an attempt to revitalize nature. These acts expressed the artist's perception that he was the creator of a new order of nature in a place that had been damaged by man and by time (Rehabilitation of the Nesher Quarry, 1971). The gardens scattered across Israel captured Danziger's heart. His actions in these gardens expressed the connection with the local place and with its inhabitants and resulted in giving Israeli art a social aspect (The Bustan at Al Kababir Village, Carmel)

Danziger was killed on July 11, 1977, in a road accident on his way to Jerusalem.


O. Mordechai, Itzhak Danziger, Tel Aviv Museum of Art and the Open Museum Industrial Park (1996).

[Ronit Steinberg (2nd ed.)]