Yosl Bergner is one of Australia’s most important artists. Born in Austria and raised in Poland, he and his family immigrated to Australia in 1937 to escape anti-semitism. In Melbourne, Bergner attended the National Art School and befriended the Heide circle, who included Sidney Nolan, Albert Tucker and John Perceval. It was alongside Noel Coulihan and Vic O’Connor however, that Bergner made his indeminable mark. Self-described as a social humanist, Bergner and his fellow social realists forged a bracingly political vision.
‘Vanitas’ is a most intriguing work. In it, a fleet of kitchen utensils soar across an empty landscape, the sky blackening against an encroaching storm. For Bergner, kitchen utensils are symbols of the Jewish refugee’s plight. Stuffed into suitcases and shuttled around, they bear the experience of dispossession, secrecy and loss.
The work’s title also connects to the art historical tradition of objects as symbols of death. Whether a skull (as is typical) or a squashed grater, the vanitas is a reminder that pleasure and wealth is fleeting but death is certain. Like a surrealist, Bergner takes ordinary objects and renders them askew yet poignant.
Bergner brought German Expressionism to Australia. His legacy persists in not only style, but the belief art can change the world. A lifelong member of the National Gallery of Victoria, a major retrospective of his work was held at Tel Aviv Museum in 2000. He is represented in numerous public collections in Australia and abroad, and is the recipient of the Israel Prize for painting and co-recipient of the Dizengoff Prize for painting. For collectors of socially conscious, Modern and expressionist art, Bergner is a must.
Yosl BERGNER (1920 - 2017)
'Vanitas' Ca. 1980s
screenprint on paper
Image Size: 50 x 40 cm
Dimensions: 70 x 50 cm
Signed: Signed [in Hebrew] lower right; editioned AP lower left.
Comes with Letter of Provenance
Availability: in stock
Condition:Very Good: Describes a work of art’s image As New, but may show some small signs of surrounding wear. There are no tears to paper margin or disruption to paint surface. Image is in Fine condition.
© The Artist or Assignee