Avigdor Arikha was born to a German-speaking Jewish family in Bukovina, Romania, in 1929. At the early age of thirteen, his drawings attracted enough attention to save his life from the Nazi labor camps, where he had been imprisoned for three years. After fighting in the war for Israeli independence in 1948, he studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts of Paris and became a major Israeli artist.
Arikha's work was mostly abstract until the mid sixties when he stopped painting and explored only drawing and etching in black and white. The small scale of his works is well-suited for his intimate subjects that frequently include his wife, the view from his home in Paris, still-lifes, interiors and female nudes. Many of his prints feature portraits of his friends and family, including a series of his close friend Samuel Beckett, for whom he also illustrated books. He resumed painting in 1973 and began to work exclusively from life; he has been praised for his mastery of tone and his exclusive use of natural light. His works convey a sense of tranquility, and their true subject could be considered the act of observing itself. He passed away on April 29th, 2010.
Arikha's work can be found in public collection worldwide including Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, Arkansas; Denver Art Museum, Denver, Colorado; Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel; The Jewish Museum, New York, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York; Musée des Beaux-Arts, Dijon, France; Musée du Louvre, Cabinet des Dessins, Paris, France; Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; National Portrait Gallery, London, England; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, Scotland; Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; and the Tate Gallery, London, England.