Michal Na'aman

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Michal Na'aman
Michal Na'aman, New York, 1978, photographer- Dganit Berest.jpg
Photograph of Michal Na'aman, 1978
Born November 19, 1951
Kvutzat Kinneret, Israel
Nationality Israeli
Known for Conceptual art Painter
Movement Israeli art

Michal Na'aman (born 1951, Kibbutz Kvutzat Kinneret), is an Israeli painter. From the point of view of values, her work is characterized as conceptual art and deals with such subjects as the limitations of language and sight, the possibilities for expression, and gender issues. Using the the techniques of collage, Na’aman has created works that examine the visual way of thinking as opposed to the verbal way of thinking. In 2014 she was awarded the Israel Prize for Plastic Arts for her work.


Michal Na’aman was born in 1951, the youngest of the four children of the historian Shlomo Na’aman and of Leah Kupernik. She grew up on Kibbutz Kvutzat Kinneret, where her father was a teacher in the regional high school and her mother in the joint school.[1] In an interview many years later Na’aman noted that her parents’ “non-pioneer” careers drew an unenthusiastic response from the kibbutz members. “My family was a little like lepers there,” Na’aman testified,” and the fact is they were thrown out.”[2] In 1964 she left with her parents to the town of Lod. While she was studying in high school, she also studied at the "Margoshilsky" High School for Art, Tel Aviv.[3] After that she studied art privately with George Shemesh.

In 1969, Na’aman began studying at the "Hamidrasha" Art Teachers' Training College, which at that time was next to the Beit Histadrut Ha-Morim (Teacher’s Union House)[4] At Hamidrasha she studied art with Ran Shechori, Dov Feigin, and Raffi Lavie. Lavie’s artistic language, which included scribbling and the use collage, and styles such as “Want of Matter, was adopted by Na’aman and by other students of Lavie. However, what distinguished Na’aman’s work from Lavie’s was that in her works there were textual images, cutting her work off from the separation of “form” and “content” that Lavie insisted on in his work.[5]

In 1972 Na’aman completed her studies in the History of Art and Literature at Tel Aviv University. In this same year she exhibited some of her works in a group exhibition at “Gallery 201” in Tel Aviv.

In 1974 Na’aman exhibited her works in the exhibition "Five Young Artists" in the Kibbutz Art Gallery in Tel Aviv. The other artists who exhibited along with Na’aman were Tamar Getter, David Ginton, Nahum Tevet, and Efrat Natan, who knew each other through their connection to Raffi Lavie. On her work “A Kid in Its Mother’s Milk” (1974), which was shown in this exhibition, Na’aman wrote a text that transferred “the religious, Talmudic law to a national, secular reality”[6] in both a private and a national context. The Biblical text “A Kid in Its Mother’s Milk” appears on a piece of exercise book paper next to the text “A Country That Eats its Young,” as well as in pink letters on the wall of the gallery.[7] The work was heavily criticized during the exhibition. Yehoshua Kenaz, for example, the editor of the Culture Supplement of the newspaper Haaretz at the time, described the work as “trickery.”

Another work shown in the exhibition was the photograph “Daughter of Israel” (1974) – photographic documentation of an “activity” in which Na’aman wrote a text taken from Ultraorthodox warning notices about modesty, on a piece of paper attached to her arm as a sort of splint. Na’aman’s use, in a critical way, of Jewish traditions in her work was characteristic of other works she created during the 1970s.

Airy Nuns and Other Species[edit]

In the middle of the 1970s Na’aman began to use collage and photography as a central part of her work. The use of photography as a central part of the raw material of her collages enabled Na’aman, for the first time, to introduce clear visual images of sexuality and sexual perfection, alongside a preoccupation with her real and fake identity. In her series of works entitled “Blue Retouch” (1974-1975), Na’aman made use of photographic images of Zalman Shoshi, Uri Zvi Greenberg, and of a female criminal whose eyes were gouged out. These images underwent a “retouch” using a blue pencil, that emphasized certain details in the photographs.

On December 23, 1975, Na’aman’s first solo exhibition opened in the Yodfat Gallery in Tel Aviv. It was the last exhibition mounted in this gallery before it closed. In the review in the newspaper Al HaMishmar , Chana Bar-Or wrote about the works in Na’aman’s exhibition that they represent “one long, difficult system of ‘conceptualism’ trying to break out of the concept..” [9]



Awards and prizes[edit]

Solo exhibitions[edit]

  • 1975 Vai Hi Oh, Yodfat Gallery, Tel Aviv.
  • 1976 Backbiting, Julie M. Gallery, Tel Aviv.
  • 1977 Fish Bird, Russ Gallery, Tel Aviv.
  • 1978 Michal Na’aman, New Works, Russ Gallery, Tel Aviv.
  • 1980 Ducks and Rabbits, Bertha Urdang Gallery, New York.
  • 1981 Mabat Gallery, Tel Aviv.
  • 1982 The Venice Biennale.
  • 1983 Michael Na’aman 1975-1983, Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
  • 1984 Dvir Gallery, Tel Aviv.
  • 1985 Betzalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem.
  • 1987 Julie M. Gallery, Tel Aviv.
  • 1989 Michal Na’aman, New Works, 1987–1989, Julie M. Gallery, Tel Aviv.
  • 1991 Julie M. Gallery, Tel Aviv.
  • 1998 Legion, Julie M. Gallery, Tel Aviv.
  • 1999 Legion, Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
  • 1999 Red and a Trickle of White, Julie M. Gallery, Tel Aviv.
  • 2001 Yester-Red, Julie M. Gallery, Tel Aviv.
  • 2006 Miracles on the Sea, Beit Gabriel, Jordan Valley
  • 2006 The eye of the Nation, Gordon Gallery, Tel Aviv
  • 2010 A Smile, A Cat, A Cut", Gordon Gallery, Tel Aviv (cat.)
  • 2011 Fuck The Clock - Fresh Paint Fair - Gordon Gallery
  • 2013 Wit/ויץ/Wit, Gordon Gallery, Tel Aviv


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