06 September 2009

House Museum of Anna Ticho (1894-1980)

I have always liked the idea of an artist’s work being shown in the family home that the artist once lived in. Consider, for example, Rembrandt’s home in Amsterdam, Durer’s home in Nuremberg or Ruben’s home in Antwerp. The idea of a house-museum seems more authentic than a multi-artist, multi-era gallery built decades after the artist’s death. I say “seems” more authentic because who is to say that this family home was the only house, or even the most important house that the artist lived in, during his adult career?

Ticho House, Jerusalem

Anna Ticho was born in Moravia in 1894. It was then then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and today is in the Czech Republic. She moved with her family to Vienna when she was still in primary school and later enrolled in art school in Vienna. Anna married opthal­mologist Dr Albert Abraham Ticho just before war broke out, and moved to Damascus with her husband who served in the Austrian Army.

When Dr Ticho was discharged after war ended, they emigrated to Israel. Pride of place was given in her new home to drawings she had brought with her from Vienna’s young and talented artists: Klimt, Schiele and Kokoschka. The Tichos bought this house in 1924, one of the first Ottoman houses in Jerusalem built outside the old city walls. It was not huge, but it was perfectly suited to the climate and landscape of the city. They converted the lower storey into an eye clinic which was busy until Dr Ticho died.

Ticho House garden restaurant

Anna Ticho was busy running her husband’s medical practice and running the home, so there didn’t seem to be as much time for art as she would have liked. Her drawings of figures and Jerusalem landscape were done from nature, using the familiar hills, rocks and olive trees around the city as source material. Perhaps the barren Jerusalem landscape encouraged Ticho to turn to sketching and water colours, not oil painting. The stony Judean Hills, treeless and human-free, lent themselves to rather austere sketches.

Only later, said Irit Salmon, did Ticho treat subjects such as dissolution and abandonment, depicting trees, houses, and aging people. She drew the maze of rooftops of the houses of the Old City stretching to the horizon above their opaque windows, creating a delicate interplay between stones and windows interwoven with domed roofs. She moved to earthy tones.

The Jerusalem house had to be comfortable and elegant. The Tichos were always active in Jerusalem’s social and cultural life, including involving themselves in the foundation of Bezalel Art School. After her husband’s death, Anna continued to live and work in the same house until her own death in 1980.
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Anna bequeathed the house, its library and its collections to the city, for use as a public art gallery of her own work. And it’s not just Ticho’s own work on display. The museum wanted ex­hib­­itions that would fit in and be inspired by Anna Ticho and Ticho House. So they chose a range of media, including painting, photo­gr­aphy and video to explore issues of living spaces and women in art. I enjoyed "A Room of Her Own", an exhibition of women in portraiture from the 19th century on.

Ticho, Jerusalem Hills .......... Vuillard, Misia on Chaise Longe

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