Gutman was born in Romania and immigrated to Palestine with his family in 1905. After serving in the Jewish Legion in World War I, he studied in Tel Aviv and then at the Bezalel Academy of Art in 1912. At Bezalel, Gutman found the old school manner of instruction inadequate to the landscape and light of the Middle East. He was among the numerous other students who rebelled against the old techniques and sought inspiration instead in the modernist trends emerging in Europe as well as in the exotic people and landscape of emerging Israel.
Gutman’s style was influenced by his prize-winning work as a children’s book author and illustrator. He drew inspiration from ancient Assyrian reliefs and Egyptian wall paintings for his pictorial narratives. In his later paintings, like Haifa Harbor, which tended toward a lighter and more buoyant feel than his earlier works, Gutmanfocused on the sea in all its moods, both in oils and watercolors, in Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Herzliya, and Tiberias.