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Untitled (two figures)



Yosl Bergner

Austria, Australia, Israel

13 Oct 1920 – 18 Jan 2017

  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    Media category
    Materials used
    ink on paper
    35.5 x 25.0 cm
    Gift of Dr Gene Sherman AM and Brian Sherman AM 2021. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program
    Not on display
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    © Estate of Yosl Bergner

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    Yosl Bergner

    Works in the collection


  • About

    Austrian-born Yosl Bergner grew up in Warsaw, Poland and arrived in Melbourne in 1937 as a 17 year old refugee, fleeing European anti-Semitism. While he lived in Australia for just a decade, his impact was substantial. He became a leading figure in the Social Realist group of painters (which included Noel Counihan and Danila Vassilief) who were committed to depicting the experiences and struggles of the disenfranchised and marginalised. Their images of the urban poor, workers, refugees (and in Bergner’s case, Aboriginal people of inner-city Fitzroy) – were politically urgent and uncompromising, and remain a high point of mid-20th century Australian art.

    After departing Australia following the war, Bergner travelled in Paris, Montreal and New York, before settling in Israel in 1950. Here his work became more allegorical and colourful, while continuing to reflect his passion for justice and sense of mortality. He became known for book illustrations and theatre sets and in 1980 was awarded the Israel Prize, a state award regarded as the Israel’s highest cultural honour. His work was the subject of a major retrospective at the Tel Aviv Museum in 2000. He died in 2017, aged 96.

  • Places

    Where the work was made


Other works by Yosl Bergner

See all 20 works