Tevet, Nahum

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TEVET, NAHUM (1946– ), Israeli sculptor. Born in Kibbutz Mesilot, Tevet began his art studies at the Oranim kibbutz seminar and later went on to the Avni Art Institute in Tel Aviv. One of his most influential teachers was Raffi Lavie, who taught him for three years (1967–70). In 1979, thanks to a scholarship from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation, he lived for a year in the United States. Tevet lived and worked in Tel Aviv. From 1980 he taught at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. Over the years he was awarded many art prizes.

Tevet's sculptures are recognized by their material – wood – and by their complex assemblage.

In his early works it was clear that Tevet had turned to the language of Minimalism. He used ready-made objects taken from the kibbutz environment. Beds, chairs, and tables were placed at the gallery first as simple objects and later in a more complicated construction. One of the main installations of the early period was at the Bertha Urdang Gallery in New York. Two separate rooms each contained a complex network of thin wood beams that established a basic structure. The linear quality of these wood constructions evoked a drawing in three dimensional space. Tevet noted that in the process of creating this work he began with the idea of a two-dimensional drawing on the floor of the gallery and then it grew to fill the room. This upward movement from the floor was one of the typical features of Tevet's works (Sound for a Silent Movie, 1986, Collection of the Artist).

Tevet's works demanded a long process of looking and deciphering. Through the connection of the parts and the repetition of colors, the coherency of the work is clear, but the ready-made details and the other completed forms draw the gaze into its depths.

One of the recurring forms in the sculptures is the table. As a metaphor the table could symbolize the dining table (of the kibbutz dining room for instance), or the desk of the artist, the poet, the teacher, or the philosopher. Through its minimalist form it became a bench or a column. Positioned on its side it became almost figurative and placed one above the other the tables created an open-closed form. The colors of the tables also changed the meanings, and their position on the walls altered all the spaces in the gallery.

As a highly esteemed teacher Tevet influenced young Israeli sculptors (for instance, Drora Dominey and Yehudit Sasportas), and his works became an important part of the heritage of the Israeli art world.


Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Nahum Tevet: Painting LessonsSculptures 19841990 (1991); B. Urdang, The Disciplined Spirit (1986).

[Ronit Steinberg (2nd ed.)]