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Dani Karavan

Dani Karavan (born 1930 in Tel Aviv) is an Israeli sculptor best known for site specific memorials and monuments which merge into the environment, though he has made important installations as well as other significant contributions to art and architecture.


Dani Karavan's father Abraham was the chief landscape architect of Tel Aviv from the nineteen forties to the nineteen sixties and so shared his aptitude for environmental design. At the age of 14 Dani Karivan began studying painting and later in 1943 studied with Marcel Janco in Tel Aviv and from 1943 to 1949 at the Bezalal School of Arts in Jerusalem. After spending the the time between 1948 and 1955 as a kibbutz member he returned to studying art. From 1956 to 1957 he studied fresco technique at the Academia delle Belle Arti in Florence and drawing at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris.

Karavan made permanent installations in the form of wall reliefs in Israeli courts and research institutions. Examples of his artwork for courts are the 1966 Jerusalem City of Peace wall relief in the Knesset assembly hall and the environmental sculptures comprising 35 wall reliefs & iron sculpture made between between 1962 and 1967 at the Court of Justice in Tel Aviv. For the Weizmann Institute of Science he made the From the Tree of Knowledge to the Tree of Life wall relief in 1964 and the Memorial to the Holocaust in 1972.

For performance groups he designed stage sets throughout the nineteen sixties and seventies. These included the Martha Graham Dance Company, the Batsheva Dance Company, and the Israel Chamber Orchestra amongst others.

After representing Israel with his Jerusalem City of Peace sculpture at the 1976 Venice Biennale, he obtained more international commissions - including sculptures in France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Spain, and Switzerland. One such project was a memorial entitled Passages for Walter Benjamin constructed between 1990 and 1994 in Portbou at the Spanish-French border in Spain where the German-Jewish author died in September 1940.

Though their construction ended in the 50s, Dani Karavan's advocacy of Tel Aviv's modern international style buildings encouraged their restoration and the inscription of The White City as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Along with an exhibition about the city's architecture at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in the mid-1980s, Dani Karavan convinced mayor Shlomo Lahat to form a jury of international architecture and art critics to review these buildings. The value they placed on the city's town planning and design led to conservation in the 90s and acceptance by UNESCO in 2003.

In 1977 Dani Karavan was awarded the Israel Prize and in 1998 was one of five recipients of the Japanese annual Praemium Imperiale art prize.

List of projects


Further reading

  • Amnon Barzel, Luigi Lambertini, Pierre Restany: Dani Karavan: Un Ambiente Per La Pace / Environment for Peace (Biennale di Venezia, 1976, Israel) Firenze: Editrice Il Bisonte 1976
  • Ursula Peters: Dani Karavan: Weg der Menschenrechte, in: Ursula Peters: Moderne Zeiten. Die Sammlung zum 20. Jahrhundert, in Zusammenarbeit mit Andrea Legde, Nürnberg 2000 (Kulturgeschichtliche Spaziergänge im Germanischen Nationalmuseum, Bd.3), S.274-281.
  • Pierre Restany: Dani Karavan. Prestel, München 1992/1999 ISBN 3791312111
  • Udo Weilacher: "Harmonie und Zweifel - Dani Karavan" (Interview), in: Udo Weilacher: Zwischen Landschaftsarchitektur und Land Art. Basel Berlin Boston 1999 ISBN 3764361204
  • Udo Weilacher: "Weiße Erinnerung auf grünem Grund. Garten der Erinnerung in Duisburg von Dani Karavan", in: Udo Weilacher: In Gärten. Profile aktueller europäischer Landschaftsarchitektur. Basel Berlin Boston 2005 ISBN 376437084X

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