Lavie, Raffi

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LAVIE, RAFFI (1937– ), Israeli painter. Born in Israel, Lavie was attracted as a child to the music world and wanted to become a musician. Around the age of 16 it became clear to him that he had nothing to say through music. Slowly he prepared himself to become a painter, though music remained the great love of his life. Lavie characterized himself as an autodidact, though his artistic education started in 1954 with the painter Ludwig Mos. Later he studied at the College for Art Teachers in Ramat ha-Sharon, the same institute where he would teach for a long time and through his charisma influence many young Israeli artists.

In 1965 Lavie was a central figure in the creation of the Ten Plus artists group. The purpose of the group was to achieve pluralism in the field of art. By giving all types of art a chance to be exhibited they fought against the conservative art establishment. They favored mutual cooperation while respecting the uniqueness of each of the group's members.

Lavie's style is very problematic and far from being understood. More than with any other Israeli abstract artist Lavie's art provokes anger in the observer. His Abstract–Infantile style was identified with the Israeli artistic style of the 1960s and 1970s labeled "The Want of Matter." It was typical to the native-born sabra in its simplicity and crudeness and in keeping with the meagerness of materials in the modern city of Tel Aviv, especially compared with Europe and its traditional art. The materials used by Lavie were plywood, pencil, acrylic, and rifts of newspaper (Open Day, 1983, Israel Museum, Jerusalem). Despite the Modern style a closer look at Lavie's paintings reveals a traditional assembly of subjects: landscape, seascape, still life, human figures, portraits, plants and animals, all scribbled and glued in his works.

Lavie's art produced a unique language. The observer had to learn the meanings of the signs and the method of reading them in the same way that he read the written words that Lavie integrated in his pictures. Over the years art critics recognized the symbols in Lavie's art and explained them to the public. Although the painting seems spontaneous the delicate nuances indicate complex meanings. All his symbols were influenced by the masters of Western Europe and Israel, such as Cezanne and Arie *Aroch (Shulhan Aroch, 2001, collection of Oli Alter, Tel Aviv).

In 2003 Lavie's art was presented at a retrospective exhibition in the Israel Museum.


D. Ginton, "Head Birth: Portrait of Raffi as a Young Painter," in: cat. Raffi: The Early Paintings 19571961, Tel Aviv Museum (1993); S. Shapira, Raffi LavieWorks from 1950 to 2003, Israel Museum, Jerusalem (2003).

[Ronit Steinberg (2nd ed.)]

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Lavie, Raffi

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