Archive for July, 2013

A private passion becomes a source of joy for many

July 15, 2013

Color has tremendous power. It stirs the passions, uplifts the spirit. Little wonder, then, that a quarter million people lined up in 1998 to see the Israel Museum, Jerusalem’s first blockbuster show, the “Joy of Color.” Many of the works in that show of Fauve and expressionist art came from the collection of Werner and Gabrielle Merzbacher.

 

Last week the museum opened “Color Gone Wild,” a show of forty-two Fauve and German expressionist works, all from the same collection. Werner Merzbacher was in Jerusalem for the opening and told how his interest in these artistic movements was shaped by the collection of his wife’s grandfather, Bernhard Mayer, a wealthy fur merchant who lived in Switzerland.

 

But Merzbacher was an art collector long before he met Mayer. He was born in Germany in 1928; his father was a doctor. In 1938, after Kristallnacht, Merzbacher’s parents send him to Switzerland, where a Christian doctor took him in. His parents died in Majdanek concentration camp.

 

Merzbacher won scholarships to schools, but for pocket money he did odd jobs, including working in a bakery. He already had the urge to collect art, an urge he did not attempt to explain, and by the age of twenty he could afford his first paintings, social-critical works. 

 

But the sight of Mayer’s collection of ten high-quality paintings from the 1920s impressed the young man and inspired him to develop his taste.

 

“It became a passion,” he said. “I worked a lot to be able to follow this passion.” The work was in the Mayer family’s fur business and also in finance. And the first painting to become part of the collection was “Dorfstrasse,” by Kandinsky.

 

The result was a home near Zurich filled with brilliantly hued works. The Merzbachers could have breakfast while looking at a Kandinsky and drink coffee under a portrait by von Jawlensky.

But the collection had its darker side: While the couple enjoyed the fruits of their shared passion for art, their older daughter, Merzbacher said, “never wanted to bring home friends because of what was hanging on the walls.”

 

And now, as he approaches eighty-five, he is hardly acquiring more art. “There’s no room to hang it,” he said simply.

 

But the works he has already collected are being shown more often. In 2015, works from the collection will be hung side by side with paintings of Van Gogh at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, to show the earlier artists’ influence. Meanwhile, the exhibition at the Israel Museum is scheduled to run until November 2.

P.S. Some day I will figure out how to insert images in the new WordPress format. People like me will never understand why website designers can’t leave well enough alone.

 

Text copyright 2013 by Esther Hecht. No part of the text may be used without written permission of the author. 

 

 

 

 

 

A private passion becomes a source of joy for many

Advertisements

When the cranes blew in again

July 4, 2013

I suppose that most bloggers enjoy receiving comments on their posts as much as I do and are as annoyed as I am by spam comments meant only to publicize such things as cellulite treatment and online slots. But sometimes I can only laugh at the spam that passes as a response.

One arrived yesterday in “response” to a piece that appeared last November, titled “What the cranes said,” about the semiannual bird migration that passes through Israel.

 

My piece began thus: “The cranes that glided to a landing in the bird pub in northern Israel last Wednesday squawked up a rumpus.”

And this was the comment that arrived yesterday:

Thanks for sharing your insights. Hard to find good information on construction equipment in blogs usually, so I am happy to find your website. I agree with you 100%.

I look forward to reading more in the future and if there is anything I can ever do for you please don’t hesitate to call or email my friend.

Truly yours,

Rob

To which I should respond:

Dear Rob,

I’m so happy you actually read my blog post about cranes. It’s hard to find good people who agree with me, so I’m especially pleased to have your full agreement.

I can assure you that cranes are a favorite topic of mine and that you’ll be reading more about them in my blog. Should you want to know anything about cranes in Israel, please don’t hesitate to call or email, my friend. I’ll also be happy to share my insights on punctuation.

Truly yours,

Esther

Text copyright 2013 by Esther Hecht. No part of the text may be used without written permission of the author.