Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design

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Not to be confused with Bezalel school.
Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design
בצלאל, אקדמיה לאמנות ועיצוב
Bezalel's emblem, with the Ark of the Covenant
Established 1906, by Boris Schatz
Type Public Art school
Undergraduates 1,951
Postgraduates 152
Location Jerusalem, Israel
Campus Urban
Bezalel Academy of Art and Design logo

Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design is Israel's national school of art, founded in 1906 by Boris Schatz. It is named for the Biblical figure Bezalel, son of Uri (Hebrew: בְּצַלְאֵל בֶּן־אוּרִי), who was appointed by Moses to oversee the design and construction of the Tabernacle (Exodus 35:30).


Bezalel buildings, Jerusalem, 1913

The Bezalel School was founded in 1906 by Boris Schatz. Theodor Herzl and the early Zionists believed in the creation of a national style of art blending classical Jewish/Middle Eastern and European traditions. The teachers of Bezalel developed a distinctive school of art, known as the Bezalel school, which portrayed Biblical and Zionist subjects in a style influenced by the European jugendstil (art nouveau) and traditional Persian and Syrian art. The artists blended "varied strands of surroundings, tradition and innovation," in paintings and craft objects that invokes "biblical themes, Islamic design and European traditions," in their effort to "carve out a distinctive style of Jewish art" for the new nation they intended to build in the ancient Jewish homeland.[1]

Bezalel drawing class under direction of Abel Pann, 1912

The Bezalel School produced decorative art objects in a wide range of media: silver, leather, wood, brass and fabric. While the artists and designers were Western-trained, the craftsmen were often members of the Yemenite Jewish community, which has a long tradition of working in precious metals. Silver and goldsmithing had been traditional Jewish occupations in Yemen. Yemenite immigrants were also frequent subjects of Bezalel school artists.

Leading artists of the school include Meir Gur Aryeh, Ze'ev Raban, Shmuel Ben David, Ya'ackov Ben-Dov, Ze'ev Ben-Tzvi, Jacob Eisenberg, Jacob Pins, Jacob Steinhardt, and Hermann Struck.[2] In 1912, the school had only one female student, Marousia (Miriam) Nissenholtz, who used the pseudonym Chad Gadya.[3] The school closed down in 1929 in the wake of economic difficulties, but reopened in 1935, attracting many teachers and students from Germany, many of them from the Bauhaus school shut down by the Nazis.

In 1958, the first year that the prize was awarded to an organization, Bezalel won the Israel Prize for painting and sculpture.[4]

In 1969, Bezalel became a state-supported institution. In 1975 it was recognized by the Council for Higher Education in Israel as an institute of higher education.[5] It completed its relocation to Mount Scopus in 1990.

Bezalel Pavilion[edit]

Bezalel Pavilion near Jaffa Gate

Bezalel pavilion was a tin-plated wooden structure with a crenelated roof and tower built outside Jaffa Gate in 1912. It was a shop and showroom for Bezalel souvenirs. The pavilion was demolished six years later.


Bezalel Academy, Mount Scopus campus, 2005
Bezalel Academy with the Dead Sea in background, 2009

In 2006, the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design celebrated its 100th anniversary. Today, it is located on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem and has 1,500 students. Faculties include Fine Arts, Architecture, Ceramic Design, Industrial Design, Jewelry, Photography, Visual Communication, Animation, Film, and Art History & Theory. The architecture campus is in downtown Jerusalem, in the historic Bezalel building. Bezalel offers Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.), Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.), Bachelor of Design (B.Des.) degrees, a Master of Fine Arts in conjunction with Hebrew University, and two different Master of Design (M.des) degrees.

The academy has plans to move back to the city center.[6]

In 2011, the Bezalel student show at the Milan Furniture Fair was described as a "lively runner-up" for the best exhibit.[7]

Notable alumni[edit]

Notable faculty[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ MUSEUM REVIEW | DERFNER JUDAICA MUSEUM, Jewish Art, the Hudson and Bingo in the Bronx, Edward Rothstein, New York Times, June 10, 2009 , [1]
  2. ^ Ze'ev Raban, A Hebrew Symbolist, by Batsheva Goldman Ida, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, 2001
  3. ^ I lived life to the fullest, Haaretz
  4. ^ "Israel Prize recipients in 1958 (in Hebrew)". Israel Prize Official Site. Archived from the original on January 17, 2010 by WebCite.  Check date values in: |archivedate= (help)
  5. ^ "המועצה להשכלה גבוהה - מאגר מוסדות" [Council for Higher Education Registry of Institutes]. (in Hebrew). Retrieved August 4, 2010. 
  6. ^ Zohar, Gil (November 2, 2006). "Artful move". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved September 19, 2011. 
  7. ^ Milan's Furniture Whirlwind

Further reading[edit]

  • Gil Goldfine, “Zeev Raban and the Bezalel style,” Jerusalem Post, 12-14-2001
  • Dalia Manor, “Biblical Zionism in Bezalel Art,” Israel Studies 6.1 (2001) 55-75
  • The "Hebrew Style" of Bezalel, 1906–1929, Nurit Shilo Cohen, The Journal of Decorative and Propaganda Arts, Vol. 20. (1994), pp. 140–163
  • Manor, Dalia, Art in Zion: The Genesis of National Art in Jewish Palestine, published by Routledge Curzon (2005)
  • "Crafting a Jewish Style: The Art of the Bezalel Academy, 1906–1996", 2000-08-26 until 2000-10-22, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 31°47′35″N 35°14′50″E / 31.793056°N 35.247222°E / 31.793056; 35.247222