GERSHON ISKOWITZ "PRELUDE #5", 1968

It is hard to reconcile Gershon Iskowitz's (1921-1988) aesthetic with his personal history.

Born to a religious family in Poland, Iskowitz was allowed to leave Yeshiva (Jewish religious studies) in order to study art independently and later a brief stint at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw.

The outbreak of war forced him to return to his hometown where he was shortly after conscripted to forced labor. In 1944 Iskowitz was transferred to Buchenwald, one of the first and most notorious Nazi concentration camps.

Upon liberation, Iskowitz spent nearly 9 months in hospital recuperating. Amazingly he would study for six months at the Academy of Fine Art in Munich with Oskar Kokoschka.

Iskowitz would eventually immigrate to Canada. For most of the 1950s, he incorporated representation into his art. By the 60's he had established a modest reputation and joined the Gallery Moos stable in 1964. 

The legend goes that in 1967 thanks to a Canadian Council grant, Iskowitz took a helicopter tour of the north. The experience of seeing the massive expanse of trees from above inspired a major redirection of his aesthetic and approach. 

This vibrant yet delicate oil painting on canvas is a perfect example of Iskowitz's iconic style. Created in 1968 it is from the key debut period of the artist's life. Institutions and collectors prioritize Iskowitz's work from the late 60's and early 70's as his best. 

A signature element from this era is the cloud-like formations of color that appear to float or blend realized in rich pastels and jewel-like tones of tangerine, lemon mist, aubergine, aqua, and touches of jade green. The entire surface of the painting is taken over by these swelling elements of color, a true celebration of the medium. 

To learn more about Gershon Iskowitz we recommend the Art Canada Institute's online book on the artist. 

Questions about this piece? Contact us or call +1.416.704.1720

“Prelude #5" 

Canada, 1968

Signed and titled by the artist verso

Oil on canvas

30.25" 22.25"H (canvas)

Very good condition

Exhibition history:  Gershon Iskowitz, New Paintings, Gallery Moos, Toronto, 28 Jan - 10 Feb 1969


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