Israeli and International Art

Israeli and International Art

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 33. MORDECAI ARDON | BIRD IN SNOWSTORM.

Property from a Private Swiss Collection


Auction Closed

November 21, 04:25 PM GMT


200,000 - 300,000 USD

Lot Details


Property from a Private Swiss Collection



1896 - 1992


signed Ardon (lower right)

painted circa 1951

oil on canvas

33 by 25⅝ in.

84 by 65 cm.

Sale: Sotheby's Tel Aviv, April 26, 1997, lot 329

Purchased from the above by the present owner

Michele Vishny, Mordechai Ardon, New York, 1973, no. 94, p. 227. illustrated

Dalia Ardon Ish-Shalom, Ardon: A Comprehensive Catalogue, Jerusalem, 2019, p. 93, no. 132, illustrated in color

This remarkable early work dates from the period when Ardon had achieved full artistic maturity: most of the concerns that would dominate his works of the next three decades are already visible here. The distinctive coloration, the surface texture achieved by the sanding down of the impastoed oil paint and the virtuoso integration of figurative symbols into an essentially abstract framework.

Ardon's birds are inspired by the celebrated medieval illuminated manuscript The Birds Head Hagaddah in which human figures with birds' heads depict historical events from the Bible. In a similar manner Ardon's birds or themes relating to birds can be read on one level as characteristically euphemistic symbols for the human condition and on the other as a Jewish artist's attempt to create a distinctive form of art without attempting to render the kind of human form that the iconoclastic aspects of Judaism had eschewed since the Decalogue.

Another important motif recurrent in the artist's works is the ladder which stretches, never ending, high into the unknown. Here it is surrounded by spiritual windows, or miniature paintings, with jewel-like symbols and colors raising the viewer's gaze higher and higher as if climbing the ladder. Arturo Schwartz discusses this symbols and notes: "The ladder (sullam) is frequently mentioned in biblical and esoteric writings, where the rungs or steps stand for degrees of spiritual awareness (1 Kings 10:19; Ezekiel 40:26, 31)." (Arturo Schwarz in 'Family Portraits, Self-Portraits, and Autobiographical Recollections', Mordecai Ardon: The Colors of Time, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, 2003, p. 63).