Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota and the BBC’s Alan Yentob were among the 350 guests at the annual dinner of the British Friends of the Art Museums of Israel to hear sculptor Anish Kapoor, whose work is on show at the Royal Academy.
Born in Bombay to an Indian father and an Iraqi Jewish mother, Kapoor was an apposite choice as speaker as he is working on a major sculpture for the Israel Museum. He discussed his Royal Academy display in conversation with the exhibition’s curator, Jean de Loisy.
The Israel Museum director, James Snyder, explained that it was in the final phase of a three-year renewal project which is transforming the building. Kapoor’s sculpture will stand at the heart of the renovated museum, whose 45th anniversary celebrations will be in May.
Mr Snyder said that when taking charge at the museum, “I saw a truly amazing landscape there and wondered why there was no sculpture by Kapoor”.
The opportunity came about after the passing of Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek, a founder of the museum.
“We wanted to commission a work to pay tribute to Teddy’s vision for Jerusalem and to set in the stunning landscape we have. I felt that Teddy would not have wanted to be remembered by a representational sculpture of himself but by something that revealed the beauty of our location.
“Anish’s work is about the depth of meaning of objects rather than the objects themselves. He is the perfect collaborator for this project.”
During the evening, more than 50 artworks were auctioned at the west London venue, raising over £280,000 for the eight museums in Israel supported by the British Friends. Artists represented included Jeff Koons and Jenny Holzer, whose marble sculpture sold for £62,000.
Israeli artist Gabriel Klasmer, whose painting Kira fetched £8,000, said: “I grew up in Jerusalem and was a member of the youth wing of the Israel Museum. My art education really started there when I was 14 or 15 so the Israel Museum is very dear to me.”
The dinner raised a total £500,000 towards educational programmes and exhibitions.