Page 140-141 - HUC-JIR - The Eye of The Collector

Abel Pann (1883-1963)
With amasterful combination of naturalismand expressionism, the artist Abel Pann depicted
the suffering of Eastern European Jewry, class conflict in Paris, and the stories of the Bible.
Born Abba Pfefferman in 1883, Pann had an observant religious upbringing in the Vitebsk
region of White Russia (now Belarus). His father was a rabbi and the head of the local
a religious academy, and Pann attended the local Jewish elementary school until
he was twelve.
Deciding to become an artist in his adolescence, Pann studied drawing with Yehuda Pen
of Vitebsk, who was also Marc Chagall’s teacher. In 1898, with the help of a wealthy patron,
Pann moved to Odessa to study at the Academy of the Fine Arts. When pogroms destroyed
Kishinev in 1903, he traveled to the area to draw the ruins and submitted the subsequent
paintings for his final review at the Academy. In the same year he moved to Paris and
continued to paint scenes of Jewish life, often from memory. In Paris he perfected his
academic painting skills at the Académie Julian, where he studied withWilliam Bouguereau.
His paintings from this time, such as “Refugees” (1906), are sensuous in their soft handling
of light and color. Pann enjoyed modest fame for these paintings and exhibited alongside
Matisse and Renoir, but he eventually abandoned academic painting and began making
cartoons and caricatures for French journals. Through his cartoons, Pann expressed his biting
social criticism and empathy for the downtrodden. He began working in pastels in 1913, the
same year that he taught at the Bezalel School of Art and Crafts in Jerusalem. Pann fell
in love with Jerusalem and wanted to stay there but on a trip back to Paris to collect his
belongings he was stranded by the outbreak of the First World War.
While in Paris, Pann heard about the pogroms in Russia and made a series of paintings and
prints about them. His book
In the Name of the Czar: 24 Original Pictures
combining the
social criticism of Daumier with the expressiveness of Munch, features images that stunningly
capture the desperation of the figures and the bleakness of the landscape. For the rest
of the First World War, Pann painted war subjects and visited the United States, where he
exhibited in several cities. In 1920, he was at last able to return to Palestine and taught at
the Bezalel School until 1924. From the 1920s onward, he made pastel drawings and prints
of Biblical scenes, using the people of the Middle East as his models. By this point, Pann was
an ardent Zionist and he intentionally used local people and landscapes in his drawings
to celebrate the geographic origins of Jewish culture. His illustrations of the Bible brought
him wide recognition and during the Second World War he continued the illustrations while
making paintings of the Holocaust. Pann’s depictions of the trials and origins of the Jewish
people were celebrated in both Western and Eastern Europe in the last decades of his life.
The artist died in Jerusalem in 1963 and his work can be seen in the permanent collections
of the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Musée Carnavalet in Paris, the Municipal Museum
of the Hague, the Chicago Art Institute, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, and Yad Vashem
in Jerusalem.
Abel Pann
x 10 ¼”
Untitled-6 26-27
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