In April 1968, for the 20th anniversary of the State of Israel, a special issue of Hadassah Magazine was published. It caught the excitement of Dali's new work entitled "Aliyah, The Rebirth of Israel" as follows: An epic history of the return of the Jewish people to their homeland — expressed in 25 bold, dramatic, yet sensitive drawings, sketches and water-color paintings by the surrealist master, Salvador Dali — will shortly be added of the art treasure of Israel and museums and collectors throughout the world.
Salvador Dali Portrait - By: Mark Ashkenazi
Salvador Dali (1904-1989), born in Figueres, Spain, is best known for his highly imaginative, surrealistic work. In 1968, Dali created 25 colored lithographs taken from his mixed-media paintings to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel. Salvador Dali's "Aliyah: The Rebirth of Israel" collection portrays the history of the Jewish people's return to their homeland.
Appropriately titled "Aliyah, The Rebirth of Israel," the series of paintings captures the spirit of the Jews from the first days of the exile and for nearly 2,000 years in the diaspora until their final return to their cherished soil of Israel. Embracing a wide spectrum of moods, from gaiety to deep drama to stark tragedy, it culminates in the ultimate triumph of justice and the joyous restoration of the nation.
II. Exile and Hope
"A Voice is heard in Ramah"
The Wailing Wall
"For it is Thy Life and the Length of Thy Days"
"Return, O virgin of Israel"
"Return, O virgin of Israel. Return to these, Thy Cities" (Jeremiah 31:20)
III. The Yishuv: The Pre-State of Israel Settlement
"We Shall Go Up at Once and Possess It"
"We shall go up at once and possess it" (Numbers 13:30)
"Let Them Have Dominion"
"Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the air and over the cattle and over every creeping thing" (Genesis 1:26)
The Pioneers of Israel
"With one of his hands, he wrought the work and, with the other, held his weapon" (Nehemiah 4:11)
On the Shores of Freedom
The Eliahu Golomb brings "illegal" immigrants.
"Arise, Barak, and Lead Thy Captives"
The Land at the Start of Jewish Settlement
"I will make the wilderness a pool of water" (Isaiah 41:18)
The Land Come to Life
"The mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands" (Isaiah 55:12)
The Land of Milk and Honey
Out of the Depths
"Thou Hast Laid Me in the Nethermost Pit"
"Thou hast laid me in the nethermost pit, in dark places, in the deeps" (Psalms 88:7)
"Yea Though I Walk Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death"
"Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil" (Psalms 23:4)
"I Have Set Before Thee Life and Death"
"I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse; therefore, choose life that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed"
A Moment in History: David Ben Gurion Reading the Declaration of Independence in May 5, 1948
Hatikvah: Israel's National Anthem
Orah, Horah: Lights of Joy
Angels of Rebirth
The Battle of the Jerusalem Hills
Victory: A Song of Thanksgiving
The Price — Bereavement
VI. The Final Image
Covenant Eternal: Circumcision
Some have speculated that Dali's "Jewish" interest was not so much crass, cynical exploitation as it was a desire on his part, and/or on the part of his managers, to develop the "Jewish market." There were Jewish dealers and buyers, and Dali and his entourage wanted to expand into this area. Strangely, I know of a parallel case: Jovan Obican, a Yugoslav artist, made a good living painting Yugoslav peasants. At one point, the same peasants began appearing in "Jewish" settings: under a chuppah (a traditional Jewish wedding canopy), as a klezmer (traditional East European Jewish) band, etc. I happened to meet his son, Lazar Obican, at a Jewish arts exhibition and, after exploring our non-artistic connections, I asked how his father had come to do "Jewish" art. He replied to me, as he did to others: "Jovan Obican was encouraged by friends to add more Jewish influence to his work and in the mid-1960s he began reading books about the tradition and history of the Jewish people. Lazar Obican, who grew up helping and learning from his father, obtained the books and sometimes read them aloud while his father painted."
Alyah: The Rebirth of Israel Was on display in the Rubin-Frankel Gallery, Boston University Florence & Chafetz Hillel House (2013)
While 250 copies of the Aliyah lithographs were created from Dalí's original mixed-media paintings, this set is unique, says Rubin-Frankel Gallery director Holland Dieringer, because it's one of the few complete sets still in existence. While most art historians and critics focus on the artist's work between 1929 and 1939, during the Paris Surrealist movement, his graphic commissions from the '60s and '70s merit serious consideration. She notes that Dalí, who was born in 1904 in the Catalonian region of Spain, "wasn't part of the founding of Israel cause. In fact, he was very apolitical." But, as the project stands, "he did a fantastic job."
Aliyah: The Rebirth of Israel has traveled to various campuses around the country. It debuted at the Marcus Hillel Center at Emory University, which organized and curated the show. It has since been to Hillel centers at Brown University, the University of Washington, and the University of Colorado, Denver. Joel Udwin. The Alyah lithographs relate the Diaspora and the Jewish people's return to their homeland. As David Blumenthal, an Emory University professor of Judaic studies, writes in the exhibition's commentary, "The Hebrew word alyah means 'ascent'; it is used to describe going up steps, or climbing a mountain...In secular Jewish thought, aliyah means 'to go to live in the Land of Israel' and, after the establishment of the State, 'to go to live in the State of Israel.' In this modern sense, aliyah means a commitment to live the life of the Jewish people in its ancestral land, no matter what the hardships. After centuries of oppression in the exile, aliyah is a commitment to the rebirth of the Jewish people, to the Renaissance of the Jewish spirit, in its own space." Dalí's lithographs, with their images of joy, drama, and fortitude, are colored in vibrant shades of blue, yellow, and purple, along with more subtle browns and grays. Shadowy, amorphous figures and bright slashes of blood red lend many of the pieces a poignant humanity. Embedded symbols, such as a Star of David, fragments of Hebrew text, barbed wire, and a swastika, evoke powerful visual reminders of the circumstances leading up to the creation of Israel in 1948. In the end, Aliyah celebrates homecoming and the triumph of life over death. Dieringer believes the show has broad appeal. "Hillel and the Rubin-Frankel Gallery are not just for Jewish students or for the Jewish community, but for the larger community," she says. "This show for us isn't about taking a political stance; it's about, first of all, being able to give people the opportunity to see Salvador Dalí prints that are rarely seen." The collection includes a guide and podcast by Blumenthal that provides context for the works within Dalí's oeuvre as well as information about the Zionist background of each lithograph. Many viewers familiar only with Dalí's surrealist masterpieces like The Persistence of Memory will be surprised by the works in Alyah—these prints have a kind of loose expressiveness not seen in much of his earlier work. The artist also experimented with unusual techniques to create interesting effects. The lithographs are reproduced from the original paintings by Dalí, who "pioneered the use of what he dubbed 'bulletism': shooting the plates with paint-filled bullets using an antique arquebus,"