Lot 7
  • 7

Raffi Lavie

10,000 - 15,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Raffi Lavie
  • Untitled
  • signed RAFFI LAVIE (on the reverse)
  • acrylic and pencil on plywood
  • 48 by 48 in.
  • 122 by 122 cm
  • Painted in 2007.


Acquired directly from the artist
Thence by descent

Catalogue Note

The present lot is one of the final works by Raffi Lavie, who passed away in 2007. The work, from a series of “red paintings”, was created with the unequivocal knowledge that the end is near. Like in other works from this series, here lyricism and beauty can be perceived, rare traits from such an anti-sentimental artist, who here, allowed for softness to emerge. Raffi Lavie was known as a charismatic figure in Israeli art, who from the mid-1960’s was the leader of the Want of Matter movement, as defined in 1986 by theTel Aviv Museum.  In his abstract and somewhat collagist language, he allows for a sort of “Sabra (Israeli)” freedom, that has chutzpah and is infantilizing, challenging the bourgeois aesthetic taste.
In the “red series” exhibited at the Givon Gallery in Tel Aviv in 2008, the same incandescent, monochrome in precisely the same format returns, with a number of fixed images, child-like drawings and incisions – primarily of curling smoke or hair like scribbles, a hovering angel, a ladder and a kissing couple. With these last paintings Lavie closed a cycle with the works from the beginning of his career in the late 1950’s, when his infantilizing scribbles first appeared. This style was influenced by childlike doodles of the artist Arie Aroch (himself was under the influence of Paul Klee), who exhibited at theTel Aviv Museum in 1955. Now, Lavie’s incised angels that return at the top of the red boards, recall the angels that Aroch drew in 1967, except that unlike Aroch’s fallen, damaged angels, Lavie’s angel protects, from heaven, the kissing couple below, for Lavie’s red paintings are paintings of both departure and love. The word “geranium” written in pencil at the top of the painting originates from several paintings by the artist, in which the word indicates the romantic intimacy of the ideal household. Now the angel and the “geranium” hover above, while the place of the “ladder” that serves as connection in other paintings from this series is replaced by a vertical incision at the center of the work that connects the supreme providence with the bottom curling mass, which may symbolize “head”, and with the ground, in the expanse marked with horizontal incisions, a “landscape”. Some of the paintings from the red series were exhibited in 2009 in the Israeli pavilion at the Venice Biennale, and in this context, the curator Doreet LeVitte Harten wrote: “Why does the angel look down at the couple? What are the relations denoted by this secular trinity […]? The couple, always representing the artist and his wife Liana in the paintings, is hugging, but the presentiment produced by our knowledge of impending death sees the hug as a farewell and departure.”

We are grateful to Gideon Ofrat for the above catalogue note