The First Art Gallery

by Sarah Peguine | 23.02.16

Art historian and curator, Ron Bartos, has recently published an intriguing book on the first Tel Avivian art gallery, and introduces a number of questions for the reader. What can this book teach us about the local art scene and market of the time? Would one see the current art scene differently after reading it? How did the gallery in question impact future galleries in Tel Aviv?

גלריה לאמנות כץ

The book’s cover

Moshe Katz arrived to Palestine in 1920 from Cernovic (a part of modern-day Ukraine), and after a decade opened the first commercial gallery of Tel Aviv in 1934, a very small space which was located at 97 Dizengoff Street, and was active for 40 years. Katz presented original works, but also sold reproductions and frames (he learned frame making at his father’s workshop back in Europe), offering at his gallery, an important meeting point for the members of the local art scene and bohemia.


Moshe Katz with artists (from right: Raffi Lavie, Katz, Marius Salomon, Chaim Rosenthal, and Shimon Avni)

The book “”Katz Art Gallery: The Story of The First Art Gallery In Tel Aviv”, is beautifully designed (with a vintage flair!). Accompanied by historical photographs and documents, the tome is divided into three parts. The first with two articles, one written by Ron Bartos himself, explaining the history of the gallery and its owner (and this is the only article translated into English), and an essay by Dr. Gideon Ofrat who explores the art market of the time and puts Moshe Katz’s gallery into context. The second part is a timeline showing the exhibitions that were presented at the gallery, while the last section is a visual catalog of the works which were shown at the gallery.

משה כ--ץ מימין בפתיחת תערוכה בגלריה לאמנות כ--ץ, סוף שנות ה-60

Moshe Katz (on the right), exhibition’s opening at his gallery (end of the 60s)

In parallel of the book’s launch, Ron Bartos has also curated a show (open until March 31st) presenting works from the Katz family collection at the Trumpeldor Gallery: Art Center (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev), an exhibition which adds a physical dimension to the story of the Art patron and pioneer, who was Moshe Katz.

“”Katz Art Gallery: The Story of The First Art Gallery In Tel Aviv”, 2015, published by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, edited by Ron Bartos.
* All pictures courtesy of the Katz Gallery Estate


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