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PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF AYALA ZACKS ABRAMOV
Ayala Zacks-Abramov was, together with her second husband Samuel Jacob Zacks, the architect of one of the most comprehensive and impressive collections of twentieth century art in the post-war era, and has left an enduring legacy of cultural enrichment in both her native Israel and her adopted home of Toronto, Canada, which will be enjoyed and appreciated by generations to come.
Ayala was born in Jerusalem in 1912 as Ayala Ben-Tovim. She married her first husband, Morris Fleg, whom she had met while studying in Paris, in 1938; two years later he was killed during military action which led Ayala to join the French Resistance.
After the war, Ayala married Samuel Zacks, a Canadian economist and art collector, whom she had met in Switzerland. Sam had always been interested in art even as a student and by the time he and Ayala married in 1947 was already an active and avid collector. When their fledgling collection was shown in Israel in 1955 at four locations in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ein Harod and Haifa, it already displayed important works from such diverse movements as Impressionism, Fauvism and Cubism. The importance of the collection was reflected in a successful tour of a number of locations in Canada and North America from 1956 to 1957, including many of the lots in the current sale.
Over the coming years Sam and Ayala pushed the limits of their artistic exploration, enlarging their collection to staggering proportions and building a comprehensive overview of the development and evolution of modern art throughout the Twentieth Century. They collected with enthusiasm, passion and devotion and with an unerring eye for quality they acquired many works which represent significant landmarks in the art of the Twentieth Century, including masterpieces by artists such as Picasso, Derain, Matisse, Gris, Severini, Chagall and Kandinsky.
They also selected works for their collection according to a deeply personal aesthetic. As Ayala explained in the preface to a 1976 tribute exhibition to Sam; "Through paintings we became aware of the acute sensitivity of drawings, so often the first expression of an artist's inspiration. Interested in the creative process as well as in the results, we found ourselves responding to drawings with a deep sense of intimate contact with the act of creation; our eyes and hearts were perpetually turning to them.”
Sam and Ayala Zacks's contribution to the cultural enrichment of their home countries goes beyond their role as collectors and patrons and is informed above all by a unique awareness that art can be, in Ayala's own words "a source of inspiration, of hope and happiness to all mankind". Sam and Ayala established the wing which bears their name in the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto; in Israel they founded the Hazor Museum at Kibbutz Ayelet Hashahar, as well as an exhibition hall at the Tel Aviv Museum. After Sam's death in 1970, Ayala returned to Israel in 1976 and married Shneor Zalman Abramov. Born in Minsk in 1908, Abramov was a well-known figure, a journalist and publicist, activist and politician. He was a member of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset and was considered a major thinker and theoretician of Israeli Liberalism.
Back in Israel, Ayala continued to patronize the arts, and to collect the best and rarest works by Israeli artists, amassing an unrivalled collection of works by Reuven Rubin, Itzhak Danziger, Mordechai Ardon, Joseph Zaritsky to name but a few. Ayala founded the History of Art Fund for guest professors at the Hebrew University and served on the board of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. She also hosted 'Tuesday Evenings' at her home in Tel Aviv devoted to lectures and performances of the arts, in conjunction with the Tel Aviv University. A legendary figure in the Israeli art world, Ayala died in Jerusalem on 30 August 2011.