I was privileged to have been brought up in a cultural environment, to learn, cherish and appreciate the arts.
The M.T. Abraham Foundation was established by the founding family as a non-profit organization. Dedicated to act as a center for the visual arts, to follow and develop the family’s art collection, and in particular to pursue our agenda and vision for future generations to come.
Equipped with a strong desire to promote public appreciation for Impressionist and Modern Art, the mission of the M.T. Abraham Foundation is to extensively promote the arts as both personal career and social force. The Foundation supports promising young artists, and broadens audiences for their work. In addition, the Foundation fosters an environment that values and seeks understanding of the arts and its history.
As president of the Foundation, I am devoted to keep these works of art in the public domain through an enterprising loan program, which makes art available for exhibitions at accredited institutions around the globe. As part of our mission, we are working to promote and loan works of art from our collections to remote institutions, which often due to the budget restrictions are unable to organize such exhibitions.
In addition, exhibitions sponsored by the Foundation are all accompanied by artist-led programs of events. They include family workshops and workshops for children, during which educators and other art professionals provide participants with an in-depth look at the visual arts and how they could be integrated into everyday life. Also we welcome youth with no restriction to their origin, religion or socio-economic background. These programs are specifically designed by our pedagogical department to engage and educate all ages and social backgrounds.
Amir G. Kabiri | President
A tribute to a visionary mastermind
M.T. Abraham was born in 1912 in Aden, at that time under British rule. As legal advisor, he was a highly regarded authority on African and Asian rule of law. Mr. Abraham’s expertise and advice were greatly valued by the British authorities and he was acknowledged for his distinguished service with the George medal.
Like most members of our family, Mr. Abraham was an art enthusiast and dedicated most of his free time to deepening his appreciation and understanding of fine arts.
Following the death of Mr. Abraham in 1999, his legacy and passion passed to his children and grandchildren. In tribute and honor of Mr. Abraham and because of their continuing interest in art scholarships, his descendants established The M.T. Abraham Foundation, a Center for the Visual Arts.
Our commitment to in-depth collecting means that our first acquisition of an artist’s work normally leads to a significant historical retrospective over time. This ensures that important milestones of an artist’s career are available to the public, scholars, and art institutions. The M.T. Abraham Foundation though the loan program provides the possibility to exhibit large-scale individual works, collections and installations that may be difficult for a single museum or private institution to display for various reasons.
Nurturing the expression of human creativity
The M.T. Abraham Foundation strives to realize the philanthropic aspiration of Mr. M.T. Abraham by supporting educational and artistic events by individuals, non-profit organizations and institutions, who are committed to developing an understanding of the visual arts worldwide and to encouraging events and activities intended to benefit the global community of art enthusiasts.
As mentioned above, the Foundation is dedicated to serve the public good by nurturing the expression of human creativity, supporting the cultivation of community spirit and fostering the recognition and appreciation of the excellence and diversity of artistic accomplishments worldwide.
The Foundation aims to promote pioneering scholarships and research in order to gain clearer insights into issues of art history, as well as to organize international traveling exhibitions of its collections to various museums and accredited institutions.
Our goal is to create a unique repository of Russian and European modernism, Impressionist and Modern art for the sole purpose of display and study by public institutions.
Our educational mission is to create exhibitions that will encourage an appreciation and understanding of art, its history, context and meaning. An artist-led program of events and special workshops will accompany each exhibition for children and young adults, which will be conducted by expert professors and educators.
Decades of art Collecting
Generally, art collectors are inspired and affected by social, political and financial factors. Historically, collecting was solely the pursuit of the privileged upper class with access to the major sources of art and ability to afford it.
The collection, consists in large part of paintings by Eastern and Western European artists and a substantial collection of works by Russian modernists, however, was created with limited means and without substantial connections to the western artistic circles of the 1950s and1960s. The moderate means at their disposal and difficulties in tracing works of interest, did not prevent the family members from accumulating a modest, yet excellent collection. From its inception, it was, and always has been, the founder’s policy to share their works of art with the widest public possible, inspired by the mere passion for art and the deep curiosity it evokes.
By the early 1950s, the collection consisted of approximately 60 works by various European and Russian artists. At this early stage it was composed mainly of graphic art, lithographs and aquarelles, with minor oil paintings by a handful of Russian artists such as Lazar Lissitzky, David Burliuk, Vera Pestel and David Sterenberg, quite unknown to the broad public at the time.
In the early 1960s the collection was enriched with additional works acquired from families of Russian immigrants that came to Israel during the so called “Let My People Go” immigration wave and the “Gomulka Immigration”. The family was able to enlarge its holdings with additional modernist Russian artists, thanks to the courage of individuals who carried these works outside the Soviet Union. The first important work purchased was an aquarelle piece by Marc Chagall. Further acquisitions followed from similar sources that brought these works from Eastern Europe, being the only assets they could carry when they left the Soviet Union.
During regular business trips by members of the family to London, Paris and East Germany in the beginning of the 1960s, introductions were made to individual works by important artists. In time, several of these works were incorporated into the collection. In the mid 1960s the family came into possession of several major oil paintings by Henri Rousseau, Natalia Goncharova, Alexandra Exter and Joan Miró.
At late 60’s with the expansion of the family’s business, its members traveled to remote places and provinces in the Soviet Union, where they could trace works by yet unknown artists such as Nikolai Pirosmani-Shvili, Sergei Senkin, and Alexander Vesnin among others that became known in the western art scene only in the late 1980s
The history of the collection that was accumulated over seven decades and was acquired piece by piece due to financial restrictions is very compelling.
One can find traces of the political environment that eventually led each work to its final destination. It was not an easy task to collect works of art in the mid 20th century when the political and social setting was uncertain and life was not as bright as one could imagine. For those given the task of finding suitable works, the investment in tracing the paintings, prints, drawings and sculptures became their mission. There was a need to adopt a learning process in order to understand the essentials of art in general and of the specific works purchased in particular.
Most of the works were purchased for small amounts of money, several were exchanged for legal assistance and advice provided by the family to the owners. During those troubled times, many, if not all persons needed legal assistance in order to obtain the required documentation for immigration visas they desperately needed. Unfortunately due to the political state of affairs then, Jews who immigrated to Israel were not permitted to travel with many personal belongings and each and every object was carefully chosen for its maximum value. In many cases, individuals, who applied for legal advice or assistance, could not pay with hard currency; their only assets were personal items which sometimes included Judaica objects of art and of course paintings.
Today the family is proud to be able to fulfill the founders’ will and eager to pass on this duty to its future generations.
Promoting understanding of the visual arts
One of the Foundation’s main goals is to create a greater understanding of the visual arts by facilitating and supporting curatorial projects throughout the world. In addition, exhibitions sponsored by the Foundation are all accompanied by artist-led programs of events. They include family workshops and workshops for children, during which educators and other art professionals provide participants with an in-depth look at the visual arts and how they could be integrated into everyday life. Also we welcome youth with no restriction to their origin, religion or socio-economic background. These programs are specifically designed by our pedagogical department to engage and educate all ages and social backgrounds. Courses are taught by artists, curators, critics and academics, and are offered at different levels, from the introductory up to more advanced.
We believe that jobs surrounded by art works, along with artists and in an artistic environment are the best way of encouraging children of all ages, through an informal education enrichment, to discover, explore, and create, and help both students and adults to think in a creative and independent way.
Since, we, at the Foundation, believe that through education programs we will enable the visitors to our exhibitions to look more closely and understand better the art objects they view, among the activities proposed by the Foundation are:
Guided tours are prepared specially in order to mediate between the viewers and translate the objects on exhibition, taking into consideration the age and profile of the visitors.
While programs for schools are taking place, special guidance is created for teachers. It covers different artistic fields introducing them to the objects on exhibition, taking into consideration other artistic movements and important historical facts at the time the works were created. Special sets of lectures were selected for school children introducing them to different artistic media both in theory and practice as well as to art history in general.
Programs for adults are developed in order to formulate new ideas and opinions, to stimulate the imagination, and to develop an aesthetic and cultural sensibility in adult visitors.
Workshops operate in the museum and are sponsored by the Foundation, covering the following fields: sketching, drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, print, computer and video art.
Our Foundation seeks to enable visitors of various ages to connect with the art on display. We believe in an active museum experience which stimulates the senses: conversation, written work sheets, games based on works displayed, interactive exhibits and more.
We strive to provide the visitors at our exhibitions with a unique experience in viewing our works of art wherever they are displayed.