Streichman, Yeḥezkel

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STREICHMAN, YEḤEZKEL (1906–1993), painter. Born in Kovno, Lithuania, the son of Isaac, a wealthy timber merchant, and Hasia Streichman, Yeḥezkel Streichman already received personal training in art at the Hebrew Gymnasium. In 1924 he immigrated to Ereẓ Israel and studied at Bezalel in Jerusalem. From 1927 to 1931 Streichman continued his art training at the Brerra Academy in Florence, Italy. From Italy he returned to Kovno, where he lived and worked until 1936, when he returned to Ereẓ Israel. He lived most of his life in Tel Aviv with his wife, Tzilla, and was an art teacher in schools as well as at the Avni College. In 1945 he established The Studio atelier in Tel Aviv, together with *Stematzky, where many young artists received their art education. Together with other painters and sculptors, he founded the New Horizons group and participated in all its 11 exhibitions until 1964.

Streichman's art was sent to the Venice and the Sao Paulo Biennales more then once. In 1990 he was awarded the Israel Prize.

In his art Streichman enlarged the portrait genre. Most of his portraits described members of his family as well as friends. His wife, Tzilla, became a recurring subject for more than 30 years. Landscape was another theme appearing in Streichman's art.

While the paintings of his early years employed dark colors, using expressive brush movements, during the 1940s Streichman discovered the French painting style, which became one of the factors that led to the brightening of the tonal language and to the dominance of the contour line.

From the 1940s on, Streichman believed that modern art drew the artist's path toward the abstract, though he reached abstract style only around the 1960s. The starting point for his abstract work was the landscape, with the paintings' names being those of the painted places. Later he repeated the motif of the tree and the fenced windows (Soaring Bird, 1970, Israel Museum, Jerusalem). The reflections of local places expressed Streichman's belief in the existence of a unique Israeli painting. He described himself as an Israeli artist in that his style was open, bright, and happy. Zionist ideology had a powerful influence on his life, and he strongly believed that his painting style with its free vibrating and vital atmosphere was a part of the Zionist vision. All those tendencies found expression through the modernist language, the abstract.

Streichman's participation in the New Horizons group located him in the center of the Israeli art world. Streichman's power as an influential figure, however, was also forged thanks to his being an impressive, didactic figure. As a teacher, and later as an interlocutor, he influenced the young Israeli artists who were the next generation of the Israeli art world.


Israel Museum, Yehezkel Streichman (1987); Y. Fischer, Streichman, The Israeli Phoenix (1997).

[Ronit Steinberg (2nd ed.)]