Comité Chagall has kindly confirmed the authenticity of this work.
TEDDY KOLLEK(1911-2007), MAYOR OF JERUSALEM(1965-1993)
Teddy Kollek is well known around the world as the great builder of modern-day Jerusalem
As a follower of Herzl, the father of modern political Zionism, Kollek turned Jerusalem into an international center of culture, that carries a message of peace and tolerance.
Theodor (Teddy) Kollek was born in 1911 in a small town near Budapest, and his family led a comfortable bourgeois life in Vienna. He became a member of a Zionist youth movement, where he met Tamar, his wife-to-be, in the winter of 1934. Sensing the changes about to sweep Europe, he immigrated to Palestine in 1935 and settled in a kibbutz on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Tamar joined him in Palestine in early 1937 and they married a few months later.
His strong personality and organizational skills were noted by the Zionist leadership and he was chosen to travel back to Europe and assist young Jewish men and women, who wished to immigrate to Palestine, to obtain travel documents. During WWII, Kollek became the intelligence liaison in Cairo for the Jewish Agency. He led a colourful career in the pre-state years aiming to help establish the infrastructure for the new country. After the establishment of the state in 1948, and a brief stint in the foreign ministry, he became the second-in-command in the Israeli embassy in Washington.
Upon his return to Israel, he became an aid to David Ben Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel. Among various projects he was instrumental in attracting tourists to Israel, establishing the radio broadcasting agency and he initiated, almost single handedly, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. From 1965–1996, he was made president of the Museum, and was officially designated as its founder in 2000. The construction began in 1961, a time when the young country was struggling and a Museum was perceived as an extravagance. However, Kollek was able to realize his dream of a Museum that would showcase the best quality art works in various collecting fields: Archeology, the history of Jewish People, ethnography, Modern Art and more. With Ben Gurion’s retirement in 1965, after a brief stint in commerce, Kollek was persuaded to run for the position of Mayor of Jerusalem, to which he was first elected in December 1965. He was to remain its mayor for 28 years. In the post Six Day War period, Kollek made heroic efforts to rebuild the city.
As Mayor of Jerusalem, Kollek was known a patron of culture. He set up theatres, museums, community centres, libraries, public sculptures and parks. Another important project was city gardening. Perhaps the greatest contribution Kollek made to Jerusalem was the spirit of tolerance he managed to infuse into the demographic tinderbox . His career as mayor of Jerusalem ended in 1993, and Kollek passed away in 2007.
During Teddy’s tenure, many artists and writers were drawn to the city and worked there, among them Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, Jacques Lipschitz, Alexander Calder and Niki de Saint Phalle, to name but a few. Other visitors were performers, musicians, singers, writers, intellectuals, art collectors and donors.
In his memoire, For Jerusalem, published with his son in 1978, Kollek recalled his long relationship with Marc Chagall: ”I first met him in the early 1960s, when he was working on the twelve stained glass windows for the synagogue in the Hadassah Medical Centre. Later he did beautiful tapestries for the Knesset building. Chagall and I got on very well..” (p. 169). Teddy tried to enlist Chagall’s support for the Israel Museum and kept a warm relationship with the artist, evident in the kind words and inscriptions of the books offered in this sale (lots 51-57).