Menashe Kadishman

Menashe Kadishman (August 21, 1932 - May 8, 2015) was an Israeli painter and sculptor, and a recipient of the Israel Prize in sculpture.


Born in Tel Aviv to Blaha and Ben-Zion Kadishman, Menashe was raised in a pioneering household that nurtured an appreciation for the arts. His father created aluminum cutouts featuring pioneers as a hobby. In his youth, Kadishman studied painting under Aharon Avni and later pursued sculpture under Moshe Sternschuss. Simultaneously, he was active in the "Gordonia" youth movement. In 1950, his father passed away. Kadishman completed his high school education at the Max Fein Vocational School in Tel Aviv. Upon enlisting in the IDF, he joined the first Nahal unit and was stationed in Kibbutz Ma'ayan Baruch in the Finger of the Galilee. He worked as a shepherd, an experience that profoundly influenced his art. His memories from this time are meticulously documented in charcoal and pencil drawings, primarily focusing on sheep. Notably, these sheep are often depicted against the backdrop of Israel's borders and wire fences, highlighting the limitation even these animals face within international boundaries.

Between 1947 and 1950, Kadishman trained under Moshe Sternschuss and later under Rudi Lehmann. He was a member of Kibbutz Yizre'el for a few years but had to leave when the kibbutz refused to fund his advanced studies. Between 1959 and 1960, he studied at the St. Martin's School of Art alongside Anthony Caro and at the Slade School, both in London. In the 1960s, he lived and created in London, gradually gaining recognition there.

In 1968, he represented Israel at the Documenta in Kassel, Germany. In 1978, at the Venice Biennale, he displayed 18 sheep painted in blue entitled "Sheep Project: Nature as Art and Art as Nature." This exhibit was later reproduced at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in a December 2005 exhibition called "Draw Me a Sheep." He gained further popularity with his colorful sheep portraits, which he began painting in 1995 and has since produced thousands in this series.

In his sculptures, Kadishman often incorporated iron and other materials to craft environmental art. Initially, in the 1960s, he sculpted in an abstract style using sharp geometric shapes. Later, he created more figurative sculptures like "The Binding of Isaac," a Corten steel street sculpture located opposite the Tel Aviv Museum and the courthouse. Another prominent street sculpture of his, titled "Elevation," stands at a height of 15 meters and is made of steel. This artwork, located near the Habima Theatre in Tel Aviv, has become an iconic landmark of its surroundings.

In 1995, he was awarded the Israel Prize in the field of sculpture. In 2005, a documentary about his life and work titled "The Blue Sheep," directed by Dany Dotan and Dalia Mevorach, was showcased at the Jerusalem Festival.

In the years 1976-1977, Kadishman made appearances in films directed by Zeev Revach: "Only Today" and "The Robber Robs an Acquittal," playing the role of a Maharishi.

Kadishman was divorced and fathered two children. His son, Ben, followed in his footsteps as a painter, while his actress daughter Maya Kadishman is married to an artist.

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