Anatoly Kaplan: The Enchanted Artist

May 05, 2023

For the first time in Israel, a retrospective exhibition of one of the greatest Soviet Jewish artists of the 20th century.


Anatoly (Tanhum) Kaplan was born in 1902 in the town of Rahachow[Rogachov] in the Russian Empire (now in Belarus) and died in 1980 in Leningrad (Saint Petersburg). He was the only artist in the Soviet Union to put Jewish culture at the forefront of his work and to be recognized by the Soviet regime despite that. In Kaplan’s works the daily scenes from the shtetl (Jewish small town) and the stories of the great Yiddish writers, such as Sholem Aleichem and Mendele Moykher-Sforim, came to life.


Under the radar of the censors, Kaplan even managed to encrypt in his works a social critique of life behind the Iron Curtain, and of the social and political challenges faced by contemporary Jews. Kaplan worked consistently even as political and hysterical upheavals occurred around him; he did not stop creating even when the city of Leningrad was under siege, and his beloved hometown was captured and destroyed. He remained engrossed in a continuous search for new ways to describe and create the story of his childhood, which he refused to let fade away.


Although Kaplan was not allowed to leave the Soviet Union, his works travelled around the world, making him an internationally renowned artist. But in Israel, Kaplan remains an almost unfamaliar name, known only to the Kabbalists. The exhibition at Beit Avi Chai, the first of its kind in Israel, reveals to the public a significant portion of Kaplan’s extensive oeuvre – over a hundred works, including series of prints, ceramics, oil paintings, engravings, and rare books. These works can be viewed at the Beit Avi Chai Gallery (admission is free with advance registration), in the printed catalogue offered for sale on the website, and in the digital exhibition, which includes an in-depth virtual guide.



Curators: David Rozenson and Amichai Chasson

Beit Avi Chai Gallery in Jerusalem, 2023 

Directed and edited by Keren Rosenberg 

Photographer: Keren Rosenberg and Snir Katzir  

Animation: Ayala Sharot

Music: Eva Reacher 

Production: Cathy Trifonov and Eyal Levit

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