• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 1005

    19th & 20th Century Art at the Hilton Hotel

    27 April 2008, Tel Aviv, Hilton Hotel

  • Lot 50

    MORDECAI ARDON (1896 - 1992)

    Parable of 1 x 1

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    MORDECAI ARDON (1896 - 1992)
    Parable of 1 x 1
    signed 'M. Ardon-Bronstein' (lower left)
    oil on canvas
    36 x 28¼ in. (91.8 x 72 cm.)
    Painted in 1951


    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Mordecai Ardon was born in Poland to a devout Jewish family. He chose to study art in Germany and was involved with left wing movements. With the rise to power of the Nazi Party, Ardon fled to Palestine and settled in Jerusalem in 1933. Living in provincial Eretz Israel, an exile from his avant-garde crowd in Germany, was a difficult experience for the young artist. After the war he learnt that his entire family had perished.

    Painted in 1951, a period of turmoil in Israel, Parable 1 x1 is a self portrait. Portraits, although painted in different periods of his life, are nevertheless quite rare in Ardon's oeuvre. 'In all his portraits, it is apparent that Ardon is more interested in rendering spiritual identity rather than merely physical presence. The emphasis is on the sitter's psychological complexities. Ardon's self portraits and portraits are always passionate, concerned and emphatic commentary upon the innermost feelings of his model. In 1951 Ardon painted two important self portraits, Child with Cuckoo Clock and Parable of 1x1. In both works Ardon abandoned the figurative approach and instead, relies on a complex net of cryptic but telling details to suggest the thoughts and feelings of the young Mordecai'.(A Schwartz, Mordecai Ardon The Colors of Time, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, 2003, p. 61).

    In her 1973 Ardon monograph, Michelle Vishny relates to this painting: 'The artist depicts himself as a student. Seated at his desk he faces an insoluble problem, for the answer is a trap, a symbol that appears in several of Ardon's paintings'. (M. Vishny, Mordecai Ardon, New York, 1973, p. 43).

    'In Parable 1x1 Ardon portrays himself as a young student who perplexed, observes a slate on which an unknown hand has traced the first term of the Pythagorean multipulation table 1 x 1, leaving the product of this simple operation unresolved. The number one is an almost universal symbol of the standing person, and more specifically, of the active person associated with the creative process. It is also the symbol of the Revelation, of the awareness which elevates the human being to the higher status of the initiated. For Jung, it is a basic "unifying symbol", loaded with an extremely powerful psychic energy which strives to achieve the conciliation of the opposing poles of an antinomy.
    Plotinus equates the number one with moral purpose. By not writing the product of this simple arithmetical operation, Ardon might have wished to underscore that the maltipulation of man's efforts to reach perfection is a completely open question and might possibly result also in a dead end. The fact that a mouse - which in Ardon's symbolic language stands for a persecuted Jew - is heading towards a blind alley where further progress is impossible, might support this interpretation.' (A. Schwartz, Ibid, p. 62).

    Special Notice

    VAT rate of 15.5% is payable on buyer's premium. If exported, in certain circumstances, a non-Israeli purchaser may be entitled to an exemption or refund of all or part of VAT.


    Provenance

    Mrs. Bella Kogan Watman, Petah Tikva.
    Malca and Amnon Rosenstein, Tel Aviv.
    Anonymous sale, Gordon Galleries, Tel Aviv, 25 May 1988, lot 200.
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.


    Literature

    M. Vishny, Mordecai Ardon, New York, 1973, pl. 77, no. 107, p. 226 (illustrated).
    Ha'ir, "Ardon to Himself", 20 February 2003 (illustrated p. 25).


    Exhibited

    Tel Aviv, Museum of Art, Ardon - Retrospective, May - October 1985, no. 39 (illustrated).
    Tel Aviv, Museum of Art and Jeruslem, The Israel Museum, Mordecai Ardon, The Colors of Time, February - July 2003, no. 22 (illustrated p. 88).