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Israeli University Honors Environmental Sculptor Dani Karavan

Israeli University Honors Environmental Sculptor Dani Karavan

June 1, 2009

Social Sciences & Humanities

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, one of Israel’s finest academic institutions, and one in which its environmental and alternative energy projects have received worldwide acclaim, honored six outstanding individuals with honorary doctoral degrees at the University’s 39th Annual Board of Governors Meeting at the Campus on May 25th.

One of these individuals, Dani Karavan, is one of Israel’s most outstanding environmental sculptors, who has won numerous awards for his monumental memorials which “blend into the environment” in which they are created.

Karavan was born in Israel in 1930 and studied at the acclaimed Bezalal Academy of the Arts in Jerusalem. He began his artistic career in the mid 1950’s after studying Italian fresco technique at the Academia delle Belle Arti in Florence and drawing at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris.

Karavan is well known for his numerous memorials which include several dedicated to the Holocaust and the 6 million Jews who perished in that terrible episode in history.

He has designed sculptures dedicated to life and peace, including his Jerusalem City of Peace sculpture (1964) as well as wall relief works such as his Tree of knowledge to the Tree of life relief; and a special one dealing with the Holocaust.

His sculptures, many of them done as special memorial commissions, are on display in a number of countries, including France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Spain, and Switzerland.

An outstanding desert sculpture by the artist, which is dedicated to the path of peace, is his “Way of Peace,” which commemorates Israel’s peaceful relations with Egypt and took four years to complete (1996-2000). The sculpture is located in the Negev desert near Nitzana, Israel. 

Dani Karavan’s most outstanding environmental contribution comes from his work in preserving Tel Aviv’s unique “White City” architecture, which was constructed in the city up to the early 1950’s.

The unique and modern international style of many of these buildings resulted in the UNESCO organization proclaiming Tel Aviv’s “White City” as a World Heritage Site in 2003.

Karavan helped to convince then mayor Shlomo Lahat to undergo a program to preserve these buildings, under a restoration program that is still continuing to this day. What a visionary.

Just a few of Karavan’s many art achievement awards include The Israel Prize (1977) and the Japanese annual Praemium Imperiale Art Award in 1998.

Known fondly as “BGU” by both students and alumni, the University began as a dream by Israel’s first prime minister David Ben-Gurion; who not only dreamed of settling Israel’s harsh desert Negev region, but to provide a top academic institution for the region’s inhabitants as well.

Since the university opened its doors in 1963, it has graduated thousands of fine young people who have come to study there not only from all over Israel, but from many countries worldwide as well.

More than 18,000 students are currently enrolled at the University’s campuses, and among the academic and scientific programs being offered include those dealing with environmental science, such as water and global warming, and various forms of alternative and renewable energy at the university’s external campus at Kibbutz Sede Boqer.