Abel Pann's Lithographs

Abel Pann,(1883-1963), born Abba Pfeffermann in Latvia or in Kreslawka, Vitebsk, Belarus, sources vary, was a European Jewish artist who spent most of his adult life in Jerusalem.

Pann studied the fundamentals of drawing for three months with the painter Yehuda Pen of Vitebsk, who also taught Marc Chagall. In his youth, he traveled in Russia and Poland, earning a living mainly as an apprentice in sign workshops. In 1898 he went south to Odessa where he was accepted into the Academy of Fine Arts. In 1903, he was in Kishinev where he documented the Kishinev pogrom with drawings; an effort that is thought to have contributed to his self-definition as an artist who chronicles Jewish history. Still in 1903, he moved to Paris, where he rented rooms in La Ruche, a Parisian building (which still exists) where Modigliani, Chagall, Chaim Soutine and other Jewish artists also lived. Pann studied at the French Academy under William-Adolphe Bouguereau. He earned his living primarily by drawing pictures for the popular illustrated newspapers of the era. In 1912, Boris Schatz, founder and director of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design visited Pann in Paris and invited him to come work in Jerusalem.

In 1924, Pann resigned from is teaching position to devote himself full-time to lithography. The lithographs met considerable success on international tours. Pann told the new York Times that he found most illustrated bibles boring, accusing the many artists who had illustrated Bibles before him of tending "to produce an impression that the Bible itself is a tiresome volume." He said that he wished to present the Bible's characters as "possessing the passions of human beings... with their virtues and vices, loves and hatreds."

For many years, Pann was considered the most important artist in Israel, and had even greater success among Jewish art consumers abroad, but he "outlived his artistic times," fading in importance beside the new, modernist painters. Although many of his paintings are in museum collections, private collectors can sometimes find them at galleries such as the Mayanot Gallery.