In the Studio with Tamar Getter – Artis Grant for Exceptional Work in Uncertain Times.
(Artis Video profile, edited and directed by Ian Sternthal and produced by Sternthal Books. All rights reserved by Artis, 2023)
"...yes indeed, painting concerns our life in this world, but it is hardly what one calls criticism; It is quite useless as such a tool. Moreover, it is useless altogether, which is precisely the important thing about it. It is first and foremost to look at, and it is about looking: thinking about looking. This is a huge issue. Once you hit a true nerve, a truth, it may open a view into life. The struggle to make art concerns this search."
We are pleased to invite you to view a new video profile about the work and practice of artist Tamar Getter. In the video profile, Tamar discusses image-making and reflects on her extensive artistic career that spans painting, video, performance, and stage projects.
Tamar's large-scale painting installations are multidimensional and often incorporate text, a line, a printed title, or hand-written short stories taking the form of a letter to some fictional addressee. A Letter to Joseph Beuys (1974) contained a typewriter printed text and a photograph. This work marks the first time that Tamar used long-format text in her work. In the piece, Tamar addresses the artist with three fictional short striking autobiographies encompassing important revolutionary occurrences of the 20's century; at the end of each, she begs him to make for her a coat, writing down for him her body measurements. The piece reflects ironically on issues of cultural marginality, mocking the neediness for "world recognition." Describing the use of storytelling in her later work, Tamar says, "I thought that if I put text in [my] paintings, it is a way to take a serious farewell from the sacred modernistic decree to see paintings in their entirety all at once; that I let painting talk, speak... there's a time aspect... not only show. I let Painting be read, opening up its space and place. It was a way to change the way of viewing Art."
Tamar mentioned conceptualism as a prominent influence on her work in the mid-'70s when her career began. In questioning what constitutes Art, the issue of skill, know-how, and hand-work was a significant concern, and painting as the very paradigm of skill came under severe attack, seen as outdated. In the video profile, Tamar explains how she engages in this discourse while introducing a more refined approach to skill. "My [art]work is not about an agenda," she explains, "my practice from the beginning, no matter what media I use, deals with restricted view, restricted body, and restricted motion. It is necessarily a confrontation with the materiality of things. The skill needed is acquired through a genuine act. It is never a given; once you get it, it is never an acquisition."
As a result of her interest in restricted work, Getter's compositions are made of successive repetitions, often of highly fragmented views or aspects of things. Such is the major piece Hēliotropion (2018), a huge painting installation presented at the Mishkan Museum of Art, Ein Harod, that stems from Tamar's studies of the horse relaxation roll. This is the very short instant when horses wallow on their back, a moment of rare freedom and pleasure. The poor awkward posture – on its back – contrasting to how horses are commonly depicted in art to present power, perfection, and absolute beauty, caught her attention. The installation comprises 42-meter-long band-painting made of clusters of over-life-size horses, tables, and sunflowers; all turned on their 'backs.' Tamar calls these bizarre gigantic clusters "stoppages," pointing to the modes of production of these images by various scraping tools and their forced floating togetherness as an image, which is present throughout her practice, where motion depicts but is not depicted.
In the Studio with Tamar Getter is part of a series of artist video profiles featuring artists based in Israel who are recipients of the Artis Grant for Exceptional Work in Uncertain Times. The video was created by Artis, edited and directed by Ian Sternthal, and produced by Sternthal Books. All rights reserved by Artis, 2023.
About Tamar Getter
Tamar Getter lives and works in Israel. Tamar’s practice includes painting installations, stage projects, and video works.
Tamar has exhibited continuously since 1973. She is part of a groundbreaking generation of artists in the 1970s, with her first solo exhibition at the Gilat Gallery in Jerusalem in 1975. Soon after, in 1978, she had a major solo show of the Tel Hay Cycle works at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Since then, she has presented her work in many group shows and independent solo projects.
Tamar’s solo exhibitions include the Venice Biennale in Venice (1982), the Carmelite Monastery in Frankfurt (1990), the Ha'Aretz Building in Tel Aviv (1994), the Mishkan Museum of Art, Ein Harod (“The 'U' in Gustave” in 1994-5, "Hēliotropion" in 2018, and “Pluck Ploy” in 2019), "Double Monster" at Sagacho in Tokyo (1996), "Fit to Stand The Gaze of Millions" at Oriel 31 in Newtown, Wales (1997), "Four New Projects" at the Haifa Museum of Art (1999), “GO2,” a retrospective at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2010), and "Sacrum" at the Beit Berl Gallery in Tel Aviv (2018), among others.
Tamar has published numerous articles on artists, writers, poets, and filmmakers of the 20th century. Her writing is regularly published in Studio Israeli Art Magazine, and since 2008, she has published fiction works in the literary quarterly publication, Mitaam. In 2014, Tamar’s first collection of short stories, titled "Rogatka" (slingshot), was published by Resling Publishers.
Tamar is the recipient of the Ohana Prize of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art (1981), the Sandberg Prize of the Israel Museum (1995), The Künstlerhaus Mousonturm Scholarship, Frankfurt (1989), the Pundik Prize (2010), and the Dizengoff Prize of the City of Tel Aviv (2019), among other awards and accolades.
Tamar is a former faculty member and senior lecturer at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem and a former lecturer in the Department of Architecture at Tel Aviv University.