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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Israeli artist Uri Lifschitz dies at age 75

The painter Uri Lipschitz

Lifschitz, one of the most prominent figures on the Israeli art scene during the 60's and 70's, passed away following a battle with cancer.

Uri Lifschitz, a well-known Israeli artist, has passed away after a battle with cancer at the age of 75. Lifschitz, who was mainly active between the 1960's and 90's, tried to bring the influence of Pop Art and historical painting traditions to Israeli art.

He became infamous for his provocative paintings of the 1990's, including a series depicting Margalit Har-Shefi, girlfriend of of Yigal Amir, Yitzhak Rabin's assassin. At this time, his sales dropped and in recent years he did not exhibit his work at all in establishment galleries.

Those who knew him tried hard to define his position on the political spectrum. Lifschitz loved provocation, and used his paintings as a tool to understand the world around him and also to understand current affairs.

In his sisters' words, "Uri was a very special man. He painted from the age of 8, and his whole life was painting, even though he also made sculptures and wrote poetry. At the age of 18 he went to study painting at Seminar Hakibbutzim Teachers College in Tel Aviv, but his teachers told him he didn’t need to study, he already had ability for painting."

"He described his art as a news index. Because of this, he painted Palestinians, settlers and politicians. It is impossible to define his political position, and this confused a lot of people who are used to putting things in boxes."

His sister described his "an anti-establishment spirit", saying that Lifschitz exhibited work in any place he could, including community centers. "He was willing to hang his work wherever people might see it," she said.

Lifschitz was born in 1936 and began working in art in the 1960's, despite having no formal training. He was successful both in Israel and abroad, and received many prizes for his work such as the 1982 Dizengoff Prize. He was a father of six, including the artist Giora Lifschitz, and lived in Tel Aviv.