Mar 22 2011

Dov Gottesman (1917–2011)

by Irina Makarova

Dov Gottesman (1917–2011). Courtesy the Israel Museum, Jerusalem.

In the early morning of February 22, Dov Gottesman––the president of the Israel Museum, renowned Israeli art collector and recipient of the 2005 King Solomon award for art patronage–– passed away in his New York home at age 82. He is outlived by his wife Rachel, and their three sons, Assaf, Noam and Yoav. His funeral and shiva took place in Israel on March 1. 

Involved with the Kibbutz Cabri etching workshop 1996, Gottesman and his wife initiated a series of etching workshops in 2000 with American artist Jim Dine. The success of this program led to the creation of the Artist’s Portfolio Project, through which Gottesman published more than 20 series of Israeli artists’ prints. By 2006, the workshop was expanded to include two galleries, evolving into one of Israel’s most significant printmaking institutions—designed by his architect son, Assaf—and renamed the Gottesman Etching Center.

An avid art collector and patron, Gottesman joined the Israel Museum’s board of directors in 1994 and two years later became its chairman. In 2001, he was appointed the museum’s president, replacing former mayor of Jerusalem Teddy Koller after his death. For nearly two decades he helped cultivate the major art acquisitions of the museum.

The museum’s current director, James Snyder, commented to ArtAsiaPacific: “Dov was among the generation of Israelis who saw the birth of the nation. He always radiated his European heritage, but he was also intensely Israeli and was among those who knew that education and culture would be as important to Israel’s future as security and welfare. He became one of the great proponents of Israeli art, both locally and worldwide, as a collector, as a friend and as supporter of artists, whether established or emerging. He was deeply committed to the vision for the transformation of the Israel Museum, which was just reopened this past summer. For nearly 20 years, he was our chairman of the board, our president, our patron and friend, and our heart.”