Ben Uri collection

Oriental Jew

Artist information

Name Moshe Elazar Castel (1909-1991)

Born Jerusalem, Palestine

Died Jerusalem, Israel

Find more work in the collection by this artist

Moshe Elazar Castel was born in Jerusalem (then the Ottoman Palestine) in 1909. His family descended from Spanish Jews who immigrated to Palestine after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492. His father was Rabbi Yehuda Castel, who opened religious schools in the Nahalat Shiv'a and Bukharim quarters of Jerusalem. Castel grew up in the Bukharim neighborhood, where he attended his father's school. At the age of 13, he was accepted to the Bezalel Art School, directed by Boris Schatz, where he studied between 1921 and 1925. His teacher, Shmuel Ben David, encouraged him to study art in Paris.

Castel traveled to Paris in 1927, where he attended l’Académie Julian and l’Ecole du Louvre. In May 1927, the World Union of Hebrew Youth in Paris sponsored his first exhibition. Castel returned to Palestine in 1940, settling in Safed. He helped to found the ‘New Horizons’ group in 1947 (Ofakim Hadashim), together with Yosef Zaritsky, Yehezkel Streichman, Marcel Janco and others. This group combined elements of abstract European art with Eastern motifs. Castel’s work then depicted the lives of Sephardic Jews in the Holy Land and was influenced by Persian miniatures. In 1948, he visited the ruins of an ancient synagogue in Korazin and, deeply inspired by the basalt blocks he saw engraved with images and ornaments, began to use ground basalt in his own work, which he mixed with sand, glue and colours and moulded into shapes.

In 1959, Castel purchased a studio in Montparnasse, where he worked for several months a year. In 1955, a solo exhibition of his works was mounted at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. His murals are displayed in the Knesset, Binyanei HaUma Convention Center, Rockefeller Center in New York, and the official residence of the President of Israel in Jerusalem.

Object Details

Date 1926

Object type painting

Medium oil on canvas

Materials and techniques oil (medium) canvas (support)

Unframed 64 x 50 cm

Framed 77 x 61.7 cm

Signed signed and dated, bottom left: M. Castel 1926

Acquisition purchased for Ben Uri

Accession number 1987-60

Display status not on display


painting | portrait

Hover mouse cursor over image to zoom (you can also use the mouse wheel).


View bigger image

© Moshe Elazar Castel estate