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
Former names
Bezalel School
Type Public
Art school
Established 1906
President Eva Illouz
Students 2,116
Undergraduates 1,911
Postgraduates 205
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. Established in 1906 by Jewish artist and sculptor Boris Schatz, Bezalel is the oldest institution of higher education in Israel. The art created by Bezalel's students and professors in the early 1900s is considered the stepping stone for Israeli visual arts in the 20th century.

The academy is currently located at the Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem - with the exception of the Architecture faculty, located at the historic Bezalel building in downtown Jerusalem. In 2009 it was announced that the academy will be relocated to a new campus in the Russian Compound, as part of a wide municipal plan to revive Jerusalem's downtown. The new Bezalel campus is planned by Tokyo-based award winning architectural firm SANAA.


Boris Schatz outside the Bezalel campus, Jerusalem, 1913
Bezalel drawing class under direction of Abel Pann, 1912

The Bezalel School was founded in 1906 by Boris Schatz who envisaged the creation of a national style of art blending classical Jewish/Middle Eastern and European traditions. The school opened in rented premises on Ethiopia Street. It moved to a complex of buildings constructed in the 1880s by a wealthy Arab surrounded by a crenelated stone wall. In 1907, the property was purchased for Boris Schatz by the Jewish National Fund. Schatz lived on the campus with his wife and children.[1] The first class consisted of thirty young art students from Europe who successfully passed the entrance exam. Eliezer Ben Yehuda was hired to teach Hebrew to the students, who hailed from different countries and had no common language.[2] His wife, Hemda Ben-Yehuda, worked as Boris Schatz's secretary.[3]

In addition to traditional sculpture and painting, the school ran workshops that produced decorative art objects in silver, leather, wood, brass and fabric. Many of the craftsmen were 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.

Many of the students went on to became well-known artists, among them Meir Gur Aryeh, Ze'ev Raban, Shmuel Ben David, Ya'ackov Ben-Dov, Zeev Ben-Zvi, Jacob Eisenberg, Jacob Pins, Jacob Steinhardt and Hermann Struck studied at Bezalel[4] In 1912, the school had one female student, Marousia (Miriam) Nissenholtz, who used the pseudonym Chad Gadya.[5]

The school closed down in 1929 in the wake of economic difficulties. It reopened in 1935, attracting many teachers and students from Germany, many of them from the Bauhaus school shut down by the Nazis.[6]

In 1958, the first year that the prize was awarded to an organization, Bezalel won the Israel Prize for painting and sculpture.[7]

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.[8] 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 by the British authorities six years later.

Bezalel style[edit]

Bezalel developed a distinctive style 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.[9]


Bezalel on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem

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.[10]

In 2011, the Bezalel student show at the Milan Furniture Fair was described as a "lively runner-up" for the best exhibit.[11]

Notable alumni[edit]

Notable faculty[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Bezalel artistic legacy flourishes in Jerusalem". The Times of Israel. 
  2. ^ "Albert Rubin catalogue" (PDF). 
  3. ^ "The long-lost daughter of the father of Israeli art". 12 January 2013. 
  4. ^ Ze'ev Raban, A Hebrew Symbolist, by Batsheva Goldman Ida, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, 2001
  5. ^ "I lived life to the fullest". 
  6. ^ "Israeli Art On Its Way to Somewhere Else". 
  7. ^ "Israel Prize recipients in 1958 (in Hebrew)". Israel Prize Official Site. Archived from the original on January 17, 2010. 
  8. ^ המועצה להשכלה גבוהה - מאגר מוסדות [Council for Higher Education Registry of Institutes]. (in Hebrew). Retrieved August 4, 2010. 
  9. ^ MUSEUM REVIEW | DERFNER JUDAICA MUSEUM, Jewish Art, the Hudson and Bingo in the Bronx, Edward Rothstein, New York Times, June 10, 2009 , [1]
  10. ^ Zohar, Gil (November 2, 2006). "Artful move". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved September 19, 2011. 
  11. ^

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