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Issachar Ryback

RYBACK, ISSACHAR (1897–1935), Russian-French artist. Ryback was born in the Ukrainian town of Elisavetgrad (now Kirovo) and studied at the Academy in Kiev. After the Revolution of 1917, the central committee of the Jewish Cultural League in Kiev appointed him as drawing teacher. Ryback visited the Jewish farm colonies that had sprung up in the Ukraine under the new regime. The fruit of this journey was a portfolio, On the Jewish Fields of the Ukraine (1926), with reproductions of drawings and paintings. He showed strong sunburned men and women as opposed to the pale and wan Jews he had known in Kirovo. In 1926 he went to Paris, where he became a success, and in 1935, Wildenstein, the art dealer, planned a large retrospective exhibition of his work. On the eve of the opening Ryback died suddenly.

Ryback learned a great deal from the French cubists as well as from the German expressionists. Most of his work, however, is devoted to themes remembered from his youth. The murder of his father by Cossack bands in a pogrom became a kind of obsession. Ryback drew and painted much the same subjects favored by Chagall, with whom his talent bears comparison. His manner, however, was more somber and more tragic. In addition to drawings, paintings, and prints, he left a series of delightful small ceramic figures, representing folk types of the shtetl. Ryback House, displaying the finest examples of the artist's work, was opened in 1962 at Ramat Yosef in Israel. The collection was donated by his widow, Sonia, who became the director of this small, but important, museum.


R. Cogniat, J. Ryback (Fr., 1934).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.