Ten: 1999-2009 at Sommer Contemporary Art

Oct 29 – Dec 12, 2009

David Shrigley, Eliezer Sonnenschein, Lea Nikel Michal Helfman, Nan Goldin, Rineke Dijkstra,  Shai Zurim, Tiranit Barzilay, Wolfgang Tillmans,  Yehudit Sasportas, Yoav-Ben David

The Sommer Gallery of Contemporary Art was founded ten years ago, in autumn 1999.


The gallery opened after three years of intensive preparatory activities in which I dedicated most of my professional attention to examining the bonds and forging links between the Israeli field of art and the international, but especially the European, artistic space.


Having been raised in Europe has helped me more than once to move back and forth between the Israeli and the European fields of creation and expression, which, as I personally felt, weren’t in synchrony at the outset of my work. In this sense, I have seen myself time and again as a kind of intermediary unit moving back and forth between these two different regions.


The years preceding the gallery’s opening were marked by a series of enthralling meetings and discussions with curators, museum directors, gallery owners and artists from all over the world. In making them acquainted with works representative of the Israeli creative production, my sincere aim was, and has been since, to inquire, examine and possibly understand how these works may attain the place they deserve on the international stage.


In those years without a gallery room, I found myself within a flexible space in which I was able to gradually formulate and to clarify to myself the vision which, without any doubt, has been the main motive for, and the driving force behind, my activity in Israel. This vision has consisted of two main goals: first, to set up a space where Israeli and international contemporary art could engage in a dialogue based on a common cultural tradition; and second, to present the international artistic community with a constantly updating snapshot of Israeli contemporary art. Unceasingly operating in an almost impossible reality, the Israeli artistic field, as I discovered in the course of my own activity, has nonetheless been a most singular and interesting voice. Please allow me to remark that I consider it be one of the most fascinating and original fields I have ever experienced.




We – the team which has been working with me in the last years and myself – are proud to sum up a decade of diverse and multi-faceted activity at our gallery, including 75 exhibitions of Israeli and international artists. As a part of a global vision of creating a network of cooperation between serious galleries all over the world which would allow for a constant dialogue and open channels for continuous professional relations between the artists and galleries, we have also initiated gallery exchanges across the continents.


In this context, the gallery has attached the utmost importance to continuously taking part in almost 40 international fairs, which have brought about one of the most central changes of the last years in how the international contemporary art market operates. Furthermore, in order to mint both sides of the coin, two years ago I considered it to be of the same immense importance to found – together with other people from the field in Israel – the first Biennale for art in Tel Aviv, ART TLV.


As a result of this activities, the gallery published almost 40 books and catalogues in Israel and was moreover fully involved in important publications abroad.


I am proud of the Sommer Gallery of Contemporary Art having grown to become one of the driving forces behind Israeli contemporary art and to play a key role in presenting international contemporary art to the local public.


We started the gallery in a small cellar and an enchanted garden on Rothschild Boulevard. With more artists joining our ranks and our fields of operation widening, the gallery moved to bigger quarters in the southern and lively part of the Boulevard. In many more respects, together with the artists, a similarly wonderful journey of mutual development and growth has taken place on the artistic, the personal and the professional level. Thanks to the close relations entertained with the artists and the continuous dialogue with them I have had a singular opportunity, and the great honour, to witness the process of creation of wonderful works of art. For that, and for much more, I would like to express my gratefulness to the artists who have worked with us.


The gallery team and myself are committed to the artists we work with and to their professional aspirations. We are proud and happy to participate in realizing and implementing works and projects with original, singular statements and messages.


I am excited to sum up the first decade of the gallery’s activity and to continue contributing in an active way to this thrilling and surprising world.


Irit Sommer

Tel Aviv, October 28, 2009