Call to Order Tickets

9:30 - 17:00

Sun, Mon, Tues, Thurs

12:00 - 20:30


1 Kikar HaMuseon

Ma'ale Adumim


Select your language

DONATE     SHOP                    עברית
Moshe Castel artist

The name and creations of Moshe Castel, one of the fathers of Israeli art, are deeply etched in the culture and history of the Land of Israel.

Moshe Elazar Castel was born in Jerusalem in 1909 to Rabbi Yehuda Castel and his wife Rachel. The family was descended from Spanish Jews from Castile who immigrated to the Holy Land after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492. The family lived for many generations in Hebron. His father, born in Hebron, was a scholar and outstanding Hebraist, wrote parchment and Torah scrolls, renowned as artist and orientalist, designed and executed scores of ornamental silk Torah coverings and curtains for Holy Arks in synagogues. He also opened religious schools for Sephardi boys in Jerusalem. Moshe grew up in the Bukharim neighborhood of Jerusalem and attended his father's school.

At the age of 13, Moshe was accepted to the Bezalel Art School, where he studied from 1922 to 1925. Between 1925-1927, as a student of Yitzhak Frenkel, a painter of the Ecole de Paris, Moshe encountered the influence of modern French art.

In 1927, at the age of 18, Castel traveled to Paris to attend Académie Julian and Ecole du Louvre. In May 1927, the World Union of Hebrew Youth in Paris sponsored his first exhibit. Ze'ev Jabotinsky, who was in Paris at the time, wrote an introduction for the catalogue. Moshe sat in the Louvre copying the works of Rembrandt, Velasquez, Delacroix and Courbet, intrigued by their paint-layering techniques. It was here that he began to realize that "art is not symbolic, but rather material, the material is the main thing, the way the paint is placed, the way the layers are placed on the picture, this is the most essential thing." Moshe remained in Paris for 13 years.

Castel's paintings evoke for us unknown spaces, distant skies, infinite deserts. They are pieces of walls, of bas-reliefs, which bear within them the poetry of mystery, the suggestion of far-away places. At a time when architecture is unutterably dreary, when mural surfaces are daubed any old way, ... these noble works, with their fine paint quality, give us hope and are a joy.

Sonia Delaunay

Preface, Paris
April 29, 1963

In 1940, Castel returned to Palestine and settled in Safed, one of the oldest holy towns in Israel. The city's ancient shrines and mystical cabalistic rabbis inspired Moshe and reminded him of his childhood in Jerusalem. In 1942 Moshe had a one-man show in the Tel Aviv Museum, and in 1946 he was awarded the Dizengoff Prize for painting.

In 1947, Castel helped to found the "New Horizons" (Ofakim Hadashim) group together with other avant-garde artists. The first exhibition of the "New Horizons" grou took place at the Tel Aviv Museum in 1948. That same year, he was inspired by the dark Basalt relief stones of the ancient first-century ruins of the Chorazin synagogue near the Lake of Galilee.

In the 1950s and 60s, Castel developed a revolutionary style of abstract painting that incorporated Jewish symbols and biblical texts, and began working with basalt as a creative material. His works from this period, like "The City of Splendor and Kabbalah," represent the deep connection he had with the land and Jewish heritage.

Castel's influence on Israeli art is not limited to painting; he was a pioneer in using local materials like basalt, thus opening a new path for artistic expression that combines tradition and innovation, the local and the universal. His works, found in museums and private collections worldwide, continue to influence and enrich the artistic and cultural dialogue in Israel and beyond. His murals hang in the Knesset, Binyanei HaUma Convention Center, Rockefeller Center in New York, and the official residence of the President of Israel in Jerusalem.

Contact Us

Please type your full name.
Invalid email address.
Invalid Input
Invalid Input