photo of Almaliah's stamps at:


Posters & Stamps by Israeli Designers

At Brandeis through June 14


By Susie Davidson

Advocate Correspondent


A rare and evocative collection of posters and stamps created by Israeli women designers continues through June 14 at The Hadassah International Research Institute on Jewish Women at Brandeis University. The work, dating from 1933 to the present, represents all original items on loan from the archival collection of artist Gad Almaliah.

Almalia, born in Jerusalem, studied at the Bezalel Academy of Art in Jerusalem in 1965 before entering the Israeli army, where he designed posters, awards, instruction manuals and the official emblem of the Six Day War. He studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York before returning to Israel, received an M.A. in communications in Mexico, and was appointed President of the Graphic Designer's Association of Israel in 1980. Currently living in Boston, Almalia owns The Design Lab and is on the faculty of the School of Visual Arts in New York City. His Ketubot and Judaica are sold throughout the U.S.

“Few countries of Israel's size can claim such a fine tradition of graphic design,” says Almalia, who also designed the exhibit postcard, poster, and catalogue, “and nowhere does that tradition speak more boldly than in posters. Since before the State was declared, posters have alerted, informed, and encouraged her citizens. Israeli graphic designers drew from the nation's rich past to address a troubled and exciting present. As the country itself developed, so did graphic design, absorbing a wealth of styles and movements from both East and West.”

Jews had arrived in Palestine from 1880 to the present, in waves of immigration (aliyot). Between 1932 and 1939, due to the Nazi accession, “the Fifth Aliyah” of mainly middle-class workers arrived from Central Europe. They helped create the industrial infrastructure which exists today in Palestine and Israel and its advertising and print industries. Posters became a popular medium because of their clear and often universal message. Knowledge of Hebrew was less critical with posters, which during this period largely incorporated the clean, architectural German Bauhaus method.

Subsequent aliyot produced various designs, reflective of countries of origin. In the 1940s, bold Russian avant-garde was common, and in the 1950s, it was more European, simpler and colorful, with less wording.

Myriad print and photography formats mirrored the evolution of technology. Posters were a dependable and widespread form of communication, as television did not exist in Israel until the 1970s. Israeli posters with sexist images were protested; women had played a major role in graphic art as well, from its inception.

Curator Wendy Tarlow Kaplan says that the exhibit was truly a joint effort and could not have been possible without great assistance and support from many people at the Hadassah Institute. “We give special thanks to Shulamit Reinharz, WSRC Director and HIRIJW Founding Director,” she says.  She also cites Ana Davis, Gallery Coordinator and Researcher, Debby Olins, Research Assistant, Helene Greenberg, Institute Coordinator, Nancy Vineberg, Director of Marketing and Public Relations and Dahlia Genusov, Hebrew/English Translator, as helping to bring about this unusual portrayal of the evolution of a nation’s industrial, and also personal character.

“These are more than just pictures,” says Almalia. “They are historical documents, and some, such as the posters from the 1930s, are extremely rare. Their changing vocabulary of image speaks volumes about the traumas and joys of Israel and her citizens.”

For additional information, please contact Helene Greenberg at 781-736-2064 or at