KMA Acquires Two Yigal Ozeri Artworks Unveiled at Lilienthal Gallery Event

March 29, 2024

Artist Yigal Ozeri stands with his oil painting Untitled; Sonia, donated by the Louis K. Meisel Gallery.

The Knoxville Museum of Art (KMA) is proud to announce the recent acquisition of two oil paintings by renowned artist Yigal Ozeri. The works were unveiled to the public for the first time during a special event held at Lilienthal Gallery attended by art collectors, enthusiasts, and members of the local community. Guests had the chance to admire the artworks up close and hear Ozeri discuss his artistic process and inspiration.

Ozeri (born 1958), known for his breathtaking photorealist paintings, has captured the attention of art enthusiasts worldwide with his masterful use of light, color, and optical effects. These two artworks complement the KMA’s contemporary painting collection featuring works from East Tennessee and beyond, and help strengthen the museum’s holdings by photorealist artists.

Yigal Ozeri (Tel Aviv 1958; lives and works in New York), James Baldwin, 2020, oil on canvas, 72 x 48 inches, Knoxville Museum of Art, 2024 gift of Lilienthal Gallery, Knoxville, Tennessee

The first artwork, James Baldwin (2020) depicts the young writer and civil rights leader as seen in Richard Avedon’s famous 1945 photograph. This work stems from a series of monochromatic portrait paintings Ozeri conceived that pay tribute to individuals who were especially instrumental in reshaping their cultural landscapes. Donated by Lilienthal Gallery, the oil painting presents a fascinating counterpoint to the KMA’s 1944 pastel Portrait of James Baldwin by Knoxville-native Beauford Delaney on display in the museum’s Higher Ground gallery.

The second artwork, “Untitled; Sonia” (2018), showcases Ozeri’s signature style in depicting a youthful figure emerging out of lush, Eden-like natural surroundings to confront the viewer. The composition is enlivened by a dramatic interplay of light and shadow and narrow depth of field. “Untitled; Sonia” is a gift of veteran New York dealer Louis K. Meisel and his wife, Susan. Meisel is widely known as a champion of “photorealism” and is widely credited as having coined the term.

Yigal Ozeri (Tel Aviv 1958; lives and works in New York)
Untitled; Sonia, 2018, oil on canvas, 36 x 54 inches, Knoxville Museum of Art, 2023 gift of Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York, New York

“We are thrilled to add these extraordinary artworks by Yigal Ozeri to our collection,” said Steven Matijcio, Executive Director of the Knoxville Museum of Art. “Ozeri’s talent for capturing the beauty of the human form and the natural world is unparalleled, and we believe these pieces will resonate deeply with our visitors.”

As KMA curator Stephen Wicks explains, “Ozeri’s paintings represent a compelling revitalization of a late twentieth-century photorealist tradition best known for detailed renderings of urban environments with an emphasis on surface textures and reflections. While Ozeri takes a similar technical approach, his interest in earlier romantic and abstract art movements inspires his depiction of figurative subjects in a manner that calls attention to the existence of an expressive internal dimension.”

The acquisition of these two works by Ozeri further solidifies the Knoxville Museum of Art’s reputation as an emerging destination for contemporary art in the Southeastern United States.


FEATURED IMAGE: (left to right) Ethan Cohen (New York Gallery Owner), Steven Matijcio (KMA Executive Director), Tally Ben-Sira (Lilienthal Gallery Exhibition Curator), Moody Altamimi (Director at ORNL), Yigal Ozeri (featured artist), and Ilana Lilienthal (Lilienthal Gallery Owner).