Le Repos (Resting)
Issachar Ber Ryback was born into a Hasidic family in Kirovohrad (Elisavetgrad), Russia (now in Ukraine), and studied art in Moscow. After the 1917 Russian Revolution, he was part of a significant national Jewish art movement based on ghetto folk-art, Jewish popular traditions and humour. His fellow members included El Lissitzky, Natan Altman and Chagall. In 1916, Ryback and El Lissitzky were commissioned by the Jewish Historical and Ethnographic Society to travel around the small towns of present day Ukraine and Belarus, copying paintings in wooden synagogues and carved gravestones in Jewish cemeteries.
This trip was the beginning of Ryback’s sustained interest in Jewish folk art, and he continued to collect and appropriate this iconography in his work. In 1921 Ryback’s experiments with Cubism and Expressionism attracted acclaim in Berlin. He participated in the ‘Der Sturm’ group and completed an important series of lithographs depicting imaginary scenes of Jewish shtetl life. He later returned to Russia to design for the Moscow Theatre before settling in Paris, where his style became more romantic and nostalgic. Ryback died in Paris in 1935.
In Le Repos, Ryback’s sensitively-observed study of a horse at rest by is animated by a vivid palette and the beautifully rendered landscape which surrounds it.