KARAVAN, Dani (1930 -)

Environmental installation
Date of entry at UNESCO
Country of origin Israel
Donation made by the state of Israel and the artist, inaugurated May 1st, 1996, dedicated to the promotion of Peace by UNESCO and in hommage to the Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who had a significant role concerning peace in the Middle East, assasinated November 4 1995.
© Photo: UNESCO/M. Claude
Atelier Karavan

The "Tolerance Square" by Dani Karavan is a donation made by the artist and the State of Israel. Its construction was undertaken at UNESCO Headquarters from 1993 to 1996, next to the Japanese Garden and the work "Aeolian Signs" (1993) by Vassilakis Takis.

This monument, dedicated to the promotion of Peace by UNESCO, is composed of several elements. An olive tree has been planted on an artificial hill, both as a symbol of peace but also an element referring to Karavan’s personal biography. "Everything I do comes from my personal story," says Dani Karavan, "My father was a gardener and landscape artist for the city of Tel Aviv. He transplanted an old olive tree in our garden and I grew up with it, it became my friend and has always accompanied me until today. ".

Circular stone benches have been placed around this hill, encouraging the visitor to meditate upon the first lines of the preamble of UNESCO’s Constitution, engraved in 10 languages (Arabic, Hebrew, English, French, Chinese, Spanish, Hindi, Italian, Portuguese, Russian) on the stone wall: "Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed".

In order to assert his hope for peace in the Middle East, Dani Karavan has placed the phrase in both Arabic and Hebrew. Next to each other in the first line, this contemplative environment is enhanced by the freshness and sound of water flowing from a thin column and surrounding the hill with the olive tree.

A fourth element completes this environmental structure: a glass opening overlooking a gallery with archaeological elements from Israel, put on long-term loan at UNESCO by the Israeli Department of Antiquities. These were chosen to represent certain cultures and beliefs that have inhabited the land of Israel at some point in history: an ancient Roman column (1st-2nd century), a granite column from Caesarea, period of Herod (1st-2nd century), a column base from the Byzantine period (6th-7th century), a column from the Negev Byzantine period (5th-6th century), an ancient Roman capital (3rd-4th century), a capital from the Byzantine period (6th century)...

With its stone paths, benches, and the sound of water, this environmental installation is an "artwork through which one physically moves".

Biography of the artist

Dani Karavan born in 1930 in Tel Aviv. He first studied in art in Tel Aviv, under the painters Avni, Steimatsky, Streichmann and Marcel Janco, as well as at the Academy of Fine Arts of Bezalel, in Jerusalem, under the painter Ardon. He later attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence and the Grande Chaumière in Paris.

He began by creating decorations for the theater, ballet and opera in the 1960s.

His work then focused on forms between sculpture and architecture, close to Land Art, although Dani Karavan never belonged to this group of artists. His environmental approach of art certainly came by following his father’s example, Abraham Karavan, who was a gardener and landscape artist for the city of Tel Aviv from the early 1940s until the late 1960s. “The Negev Monument” (1963-1968) was the first monumental achievement in which Karavan used the elements that would become characteristic of his work: trees, sunshine, sounds relating to wind, water, concrete, and text. Despite his use of a specific site and nature, Karavan refuses to consider his work as a landscape. The work takes on its meaning with the visitor’s movement around it, both in space and time.

Karavan has received numerous awards and essentially works on public commissions linked to the promotion of the peace around the world. Today, he lives and works in Tel Aviv, Paris and Florence.