Michael Argov (1920-1982)

Biography

Michael Argov was born in 1920 in Vienna to a family of Zionist merchants, he was named Michael Zinger but changed his name later in life.

In 1929 Argov's family moved to Berlin and in 1933 they moved once again, this time to Palestine where they settled in Haifa.

Argov began his studies in 1942 in The Avni Studio which was the major art centre in Tel-Aviv. Whilst studying there he met Yehezkel Streichman who was to have a significant influence on his work. After leaving the Avni Studio in 1945, Argov moved to the Streichman studio where he helped with administration and spent his spare time painting. Two years later he presented his first solo show which received enthusiastic reviews and resulted in the purchase of one of his paintings by the Tel-Aviv Museum. In the same year Argov left Tel - Aviv for Paris to study at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, where he specialised in fresco painting.

In the 1948 the independence war in Israel forced Argov back to Israel where he served as an intelligence officer in the Navy. On his release, he returned to Paris to complete his studies. A few years later, in 1951, Argov presented his first solo exhibition in Paris which once again evoked a very positive reaction.

In the following years, Argov received a number of awards and prizes for his outstanding successes as an artist in Paris, including the Othon Friesz Prize (which he won in 1955). During this period between in 1950s and 70s he participated in many other group and solo exhibitions, spending most of his time in Paris and in Israel.

It is evident in the progression of Argov's style that he was drawn at first to the decorative and flattened style of Matisse and Buffet, but, later in life he immersed himself in an abstraction which lead into the geometric shape formats of the optical abstraction that he employed towards the end of his career. By the 1970's his much simplified luminous optical work reflected the influence of his contemporaries such a Jacob Wexler who was working in Israel during the same period.

Argov died in his sixties in 1982 after a heart operation.