Litvinovsky, Pinchas

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LITVINOVSKY, PINCHAS (1894–1985) Israeli painter. Born in Novo-Georgiyevsk, Russia, to a religious family of merchants, Litvinovsky studied art at the Academy of Art in Odessa on a scholarship. As a student he visited the Bezalel exhibition in Odessa and met Boris *Schatz, the founder of the Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts. Schatz persuaded the young, talented student to study art in Jerusalem at Bezalel. Litvinovsky stayed in Jerusalem for a brief period, then he traveled to Petrograd to study there at the local Academy of Art. In 1919 Litvinovsky and his wife, Liza, immigrated to Ereẓ Israel, mainly because of the pogroms brought on by the Bolshevik Revolution. After a short stay in Jerusalem, they moved to Bitanyah in Galilee, but Litvinovsky continued to work in Jerusalem. Litvinovsky participated in the famous exhibitions in the Tower of David in Jerusalem and in the Modern Artists' Exhibition at the Ohel Theater in Tel Aviv. Though he spent most of his time in Jerusalem, he often traveled to Europe and United States. In 1980 he was awarded the Israel Prize.

Litvinovsky was among those artists who sought a unique Israeli style of painting. He was known for his portraits, though he did most of them to earn a living. In his other paintings he dealt with local types (Selling Chickens, 1920s, Israel Museum), animals, and landscapes. His style was almost abstract and was characterized by colorful intensity. It had a dual aspect, embracing on the one hand sensual-erotic paintings and, the other, hundreds of portraits of rabbis from the 19th century to his own time. The inability to decide between the earthly-instinctual and the spiritual-heavenly carried over into his style and was reflected in several ways, including the depiction of a complex relationship between man and beast.

Picasso, among others, inspired Litvinovsky. Bodies were roughly delineated but this did not prevent the display of typical signs and collage effects revealing such influences.


Israel Museum, Litvinovsky (1990).

[Ronit Steinberg (2nd ed.)]