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Aba Elhanani

(b Vienna, Sept 23, 1890; d Jerusalem, 1954).

Israeli architect and graphic artist of Austrian birth. He graduated from the Technische Hochschule and Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Vienna (1912), and later worked for Friedrich Ohmann until 1914, when he joined the Austrian Army. In 1919 he participated in an Expressionists’ exhibition in Vienna, and in the early 1920s he was engaged to prepare architectural drawings for the new Parliament building in Belgrade. In 1925 he moved to Palestine and, after working for Alexander Baerwald in Haifa, started his own architectural practice in Jerusalem (1926). He participated in many art exhibitions in Palestine, later Israel, after 1928, producing work in a restrained Expressionist style; as well as charcoal and crayon landscapes of the hills surrounding Jerusalem, he also produced drawings of the faces of beggars from Jerusalem’s Old City, which show the influence of Egon Schiele and Edvard Munch. In his architectural work he was an ardent disciple of functionalism, with a preference for the geometry of cubes and prisms that was influenced by De Stijl and Purism; these he could identify with the traditional morphology of the Arab villages in Galilee that he had studied in many of his landscape drawings. His style matched perfectly the ideals of community and austerity shared by the founders of the kibbutz movement, who became his most loyal clients. For them he designed common dining halls, children’s houses and general housing. His dining hall (...