The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate,
MD, Senior Contributing Editor.
In 1965, at the age of 37, the Israeli abstract painter Avigdor Arikha
(1929- ) underwent a major professional crisis.
He was already acclaimed for his illustrations of Rainer Maria Rilke’s
poetry and for the stained-glass windows at the Congregation B’nai Israel
in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. Working most of the time in Paris, he had become
a young, exploding supernova in the skies of the avant-garde. Then the painting
stopped. He put away the colors. For eight years, until 1973, he imposed on
himself the discipline of working only in black and white, first at drawing,
later at etching. When he took up his palette again in 1973, it was according
to a new set of rules: he would work only from life, that is, with the model
before him; once begun, the painting would be completed in a single, continuous
session (commissioned portraits excepted); finally, he would work only in
natural light. (This last precept was applied also to exhibitions of his work,
greatly limiting the times and places his paintings might be seen.) Working
from life and working in a single, continuous session united the dimensions
of time and space. Exhibiting the works in natural light, while far from cloning
the original experience, at least allowed the viewer to partake of an approximation
of the experience.
Southgate MT. Going Out. JAMA. 2004;292(24):2950. doi:10.1001/jama.292.24.2950