The Raffi Lavie Collection

A total of 247 works are on display in the exhibition entitled “The Raffi Lavie Collection”. These works were handed to the Mishkan Le’Omanut without prior stipulations or obligation regarding their display. Likewise, a few of Raffi Lavie’s own works are included in the exhibition. Works which he donated to Ein Harod in 2003 before he decided to entrust the collection to the Mishkan.
The transfer of the works to the museum took place about the time Raffi Lavie left his apartment in 42 Jonah the Prophet St. Scores of works, which he possessed, found their way to his new apartment. An additional group of works which it seems had no place in the museum’s collection, were handed over for safekeeping by Lavie to Beno Caleb, who for many years now has been engaged in the collection and documentation of art works on paper.
Raffi Lavie received the works from fellow artists who exhibited a variety of styles and trends. For example Shmuel Back, Osias Hoffstatter, Eliyahu Gat, Menashe Kadishman, Yigael Tumarkin, John Byle , Lea Nikel, Ziona Shemshi, Uri Lifshitz, Moshe Kupferman, Micha Ullman, Joav BarEl and many other artists.
A considerable part of the collection was given to him by artists who were once his students, such as Yair Garbuz, Michal Na’aman, Tamar Getter, Yudith Levin, Nahum Tevet, Yocheved Weinfeld, Motti Mizrachi, Nurit David, Michal Heiman and others. His relations with his students were reciprocal; each artist received one of Lavie’s works in exchange for a work given to him, regardless of the acclaim it received, the format or technique.
Often one of Raffi Lavie’s paintings was exchanged for a drawing.
Not all the young artists who exchanged their works with him continued working as artists. Altogether, Raffi Lavie received several hundred works produced by his students and in a like manner several hundred works of art executed by Raffi Lavie found their way to the homes of artists scattered all over Israel.
When attempts were made by commercial bodies to stop him giving his works away Raffi Lavie rejected their appeals. On a number of occasions he emphasized that since he earned his living as a teacher the commercial value of his works was of no importance whatsoever in determining the direction of his life.
Raffi Lavie has been instrumental in promoting exhibitions and events (“Ten Plus”), he has been active as a curator of exhibitions (Gallery “Massada”) and has published exhibition critical reviews (“The City”). In all of his many activities Lavie stressed that he works as an artist and this is the specific perspective from which the significance of his work should be perceived. This relates to the collection as well, though even if Lavie possessed a collection he never considered himself a collector and had any ambition to be one.
The collection reflects his world-view promoting a dynamic concept of art for art’s sake in which the artist doesn’t have either an exclusive or passive role in the system, but an active place, maintained by a perpetual dialogue with other artists and their environment. Consequently, he consciously chose to take an active part in designing the emphases in the system of art, which doesn’t rest for a moment. Following on from his concept, the collection should be viewed as an active reservoir and therefore he decided to pass it on to an institution which would make use of it, the Mishkan Le’Omanut, Museum of Art, Ein Harod.
A small part of the collection was exhibited at the Bugrashov gallery in 1993 curated by Ariela Azulai. In 1999 she published an article dealing with the practicalities of Raffi Lavie’s “exchange relationships”. At that time the Gordon gallery exhibited a selection from the collection.
Naturally, due to its relatively wide expanse it’s not possible to display the collection in its entirety in this current exhibition. Later on the works will be displayed in additional exhibitions and will be loaned to exhibitions in other museums. This policy is a continuation of Raffi Lavia’s concept which represents, apparently not by coincidence the Mishkan Le’Omanut’s own concept.

Works from the Collection

The Raffi Lavie Collection

Curator: Galia Bar Or

May-July 2008

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