The first painter in Israel to gain international recognition, Reuven Zelicovici (later Rubin), developed a unique style that blended the influences of Henri Rousseau and other European post-Impressionists with his own Eastern nuances and neo-Byzantine styles. Born in Romania in 1893, Reuven Rubin left to study at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem in 1912. However, he soon left in search of more current European styles, pursuing his studies at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
In New York after World War I, Rubin met the renowned Alfred Stieglitz who helped organize an exhibition of Rubin’s artwork at Anderson Gallery. Upon his return to the East, Reuven Rubin immigrated to Palestine and set up a studio in Tel Aviv. Only two years later, he was appointed Chairman of the Association of Painters and Sculptors of Palestine and honored with a solo exhibition at the Tower of David in Jerusalem.
Reuven Rubin began his career at a very important moment in history. At the time, there was not a specific Jewish art heritage to be built upon or rebelled against. Thus, Rubin and his
contemporaries strove to create a new Eretz-Yisrael style that was modern but distinctly
their own. Biblical stories, local landscapes and folklore are recurring themes in his
paintings that are often Cezannesque in style and palette. Many of his paintings are filled
with an almost spiritual light, including his flowered still lifes that are nearly ethereal.
Reuven Rubin has been honored many times in his life: with the Dizengoff Prize in 1964; a
biography, published in 1969 (My Life – My Art); the Israel Prize for his life’s work in art in 1973; and the Rubin Museum, established in his late home and studio in Tel Aviv, in 1983. His artworks are increasingly sought after even today. Rubin died in Israel in 1974.