MOSHE MOKADY (1902-1975)
Self Portrait
signed 'MOKADY' (lower left) and signed with initials in Hebrew (lower right)
oil on canvas
39 ½ x 25 ¾ in. (97.7 x 65.3 cm.)
Painted in 1923-1924
The artist's family.
Anonymous sale, Gordon Gallery, Tel Aviv, 12 January 1997, lot 26.
Golkonda Gallery, Tel Aviv, by whom acquired at the above sale.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
R. Fuhrer, Israeli Painting, From Post-Impressionist to Post-Zionism, New York, 1998 (illustrated p. 51; dated 'early 1920s').
Tel Aviv, Museum of Art, To Paint only as I see, Moshe Mokady, a retrospective, December 1999 - March 2000, no. 2, p. 19 (illustrated).
Tel Aviv, Gordon Gallery, Moshe Mokady, selected works 1923-1973, February - March 2010.
Ashdod, Museum of Art, First person, singular: masculinity in Israeli art, June - November 2019.

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Lot Essay

Moshe Mokady nee Brandstatter in was born in 1902 in Tarnow, Galicia. His family moved to Vienna in 1914 where he began his art studies. He continued his art studies with Lazar Krestin in Zurich during the First World War and later in Vienna in 1922.

This early Self-portrait was painted around 1923-1924. Like Chagall, Brandstatter carried memories of his hometown with him in his early work. The Brandstatter family relocated to the city of Haifa in 1920. He taught art in a Haifa school and established an orchestra. Moshe became involved with the burgeoning Avant Garde-Modernist artists group which exhibited in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa. His first one-man show took place in a small gallery in Jerusalem in 1924, with another in 1926 at the Roger Breval gallery in Cairo.

Mokady’ s work of this period includes intensely coloured modernist landscapes, and portraits of family members, friends and local dignitaries, such as the linguist Yehuda Gur and fellow artists. Only a handful of works survived from the early years distinguishing this work as a remaining jewel from the artist's output.

This impressive self-portrait which seems closer in spirit to contemporary European masters, is unique in the artist's early oeuvre. Mokady followed contemporary art in Europe during his studies in Vienna and Zurich. Irith Hadar in her 1999 monograph states: '“One can detect signs of Viennese Modernism (in Mokady’s early work), although the extent of his exposure to this movement is not clear”'. (Moshe Mokady Ed. Y Fisher & I Hadar, Tel Aviv, 1999, p. 50). In a radio interview given in 1962 Mokady related to his last sojourn as a student in the Viennese art academy, in the early 1920s: '“My teachers didn’t suit me or maybe I did not suit them as a student, I was rebellious. I did not obey my teachers and went on to work with myself”' (Mokady, p. 53).

This striking work has remained closely with the artist's family until the 1990s.

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