Holy Land, California Prints by Albert Garvey, 1974

In 1974, the Judah L. Magnes Museum commissioned Albert Garvey (b. 1932, Chicago), a photographer, printmaker, and graphic designer then living in Fairfax, California, to create a portfolio of views of contemporary Israel. This commission, unconventional for its time, resulted in the work, We Are the Wall Itself, a collection of twenty-four even more unconventional serigraphs (color silkscreen prints) based on images taken by the artist and his wife, Barbara, first in 1960 and again in the spring of 1974, shortly after the Yom Kippur War. Drawing from more than one thousand photographs, altered in the darkroom and combined with hand-drawn stencils, Garvey depicted religious gatherings, the walls and the streets of Jerusalem, the urbanization of Eilat, agricultural work in the kibbutz, and the emerging youth counterculture. By presenting selections from the original 1974 project, we are revisiting two sets of cultural conventions: those connected to the artistic practice of “imaging the Holy Land,” as well as the ways in which the State of Israel has commonly been portrayed since its founding in 1948. Emblematic of the unique view of modern Israel that emerged out of California in the 1960s and early 1970s, Garvey’s work captured Israel’s diversity through the lens of Pop Art’s popular medium of screen printing. This technique, along with the subjects portrayed, created an image of Israel that was distant from the ways in which the country had been represented until then in America and elsewhere. Rather than glorifying military might, agricultural advancements, and archeological treasures, these images offered a direct appreciation for the daily life of a developing country in which multiple cultures continually negotiated ways to coexist.

–Francesco Spagnolo, Curator

April 7, 1974. Jerusalem
Color silkscreen (serigraph), 94/100 75.10.1.3
Inscribed:

“I have set watchmen upon thy walls oh Jerusalem, . . . Till He make Jerusalem a praise in the earth. Isaiah.”

(After Isaiah 62:6–7).

June 23, 1974. Jerusalem
Color silkscreen (serigraph), 5/100 75.10.1.10
Inscribed:

“The tongue of God, the tongue of angels, the tongue of prophets . . . Buxtorf.”

(Attributed to Johannes Buxtorf (1564– 1629) by Andrew Dickson White, A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom, New York, 1896, v. 2; listed in Joseph L. Baron, A Treasury of Jewish Quotations, New York, 1956).

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June 8, 1974. Eilat
Color silkscreen (serigraph), 1/100 75.10.1.40

June 22, 1974. Haifa beach
Color silkscreen (serigraph), 95/100 75.10.1.8
Inscribed:

“Even in Paradise it is not good to be alone  – Yiddish proverb.”

May 9, 1974. Meron – Lag B’Omer festival
Color silkscreen (serigraph), 26/100 75.10.1.12

“Every righteous man has a tree of his own in Eden. Ragoler.”
(After Abraham ben Solomon Ragoler (18th century), Ma‘alot ha-torah, 1828; listed in Joseph L. Baron, A Treasury of Jewish Quotations, New York, 1956).

Europe 10

May 10, 1974. Lag B’Omer festival – Meron
Color silkscreen (serigraph), 5/100 75.10.1.11
Inscribed:

“The world is full of wonderful sights and great mysteries, but one small hand before our eyes obstructs their view. Bal Shem.”

(Attributed to Israel ben Eliezer Ba’al Shem Tov (c. 1700–1760) by Nachman of Bratslav (1772–1810), Liqute moharan, 1808; listed in Joseph L. Baron, A Treasury of Jewish Quotations, New York, 1956).

The holiday of Lag ba-‘omer, which falls on the 33rd day between Passover and Shavuot, marks the celebration of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. The Rabbi, a second-century sage whose views are recorded in the Mishnah, was chosen by the author of the Zohar as the leading figure of medieval kabbalah. An annual pilgrimage to the site of the rabbi’s tomb in the Upper Galilee town of Meron near Safed attracts thousands of people.
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May 11, 1974. Ein Karim
Color silkscreen (serigraph), 97/100 75.10.1.23
Inscribed:

“It is easier to take a Jew out of the exile than to take the exile out of the Jew . . .” Levin.

(Quoted by Aaron Zeitlin, Ha-doar, June 18, 1954; listed in Joseph L. Baron, A Treasury of Jewish Quotations, New York, 1956).

The Palestinian town of Ayn Karim was evacuated during the 1948 war, and was later incorporated into the municipal boundaries of the city of Jerusalem. Along with scores of Christian pilgrims, the new neighborhood has since attracted a population of artisans and artists.

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May 26, 1974. Gan Shmuel
Color silkscreen (serigraph), 98/100 75.10.1.17
Inscribed:

“Man and the earth are united one with the other from the beginning and to the very end of time” Martin Buber.

(After Martin Buber, On Zion: History of an Idea, 1973: 11, reprint of first edition, 1952, originally entitled Israel and Palestine: the history of an idea, English translation of Israel und Palästina—zur Geschichte einer Idee, 1950, Hebrew text 1944).

Gan Shemuel (“The Garden of Samuel”) is a kibbutz near Hadera, Israel (Haifa District) that was officially established in 1921 on the site of a citrus grove originally planted in 1895 by pioneers of the Chibat Zion movement. Its buildings were designed according to Bauhaus principles by architect Aryeh Sharon (b. Ludwig Kurtzmann in Galicia, Poland, 1900–d. Israel, 1984).

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