Micha Ullman, one of Israel’s most significant sculptors, was born in Israel in 1939.
Between 1960-64 he studied art at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design. After finishing his studies he traveled to the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London, where he specialized in etchings. In 1970 he began teaching sketch and etchings at Bezalel.
At the beginning of the 70s, influenced by conceptual and earth art in Europe and the United States, Ullman began creating a local version of earth art, with his primary interest being digging holes in the ground.
In 1972, Ullman joined a group of artists who were creating art works outside, between Kibbutz Mezer and the Meiser village in Emek Hefer. As part of the activities of the group, Ullman dug same-size pits in each settlement and transferred the earth from one hole to the other.
Since then, digging pits became the main artistic theme of Ullman’s works, raising associations to a grave or a bomb shelter and refers simultaneously to Israel’s existential reality, things that are kept hidden from the eye, normally the most difficult emotional baggage. Ullman is highly regarded in Israel and around the world and his sculptures are displayed in many places.
His most famous works: “Lot’s Wife” as part of the symposium on Mount Sodom (1984), “Jesod (Foundation)” on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv (1989), “Bibliothek” in Berlin (1995), and “Water” in Jerusalem’s Zion Square (1997).
He was appointed Professor of Sculpture at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart in 1991. In 1996 he became a member of the German Academy of Arts and in 2004 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Tel Aviv University.
Amongst his awards: Sandberg Prize (1980), Zussman Award (1996), Haim Gimzo Award (2000) and the Israel Prize for Sculpture (2009).
The work “Cupmarks” is made of two stones lying on the roadside, each with carved-out concaves of varying sizes, which are the ‘Cupmarks’.
The virtually unrefined dolomite rocks are positioned diagonally to the direction of the movement of the moon and the concaves represent the planets.
The excavation of earth, gazing inwards into the hidden chambers beneath our feet, has been at the foundation of Ullman’s art since the early 70s.
Peering into the earth through an excavated hole also directs our attention upwards, to the sky.
The coarseness and primacy of the work dissipates an almost pagan impression, a vague trace of an ancient ritual.