70/50

50 for Misdar HaLochamim
70 for the State of Israel

Misdar HaLochamim (Soldiers Muster) was published in 1968, a year after the Six Day War. The book was part of a wave of victory albums that swept the country at the time and reflected the general atmosphere. It was published at the initiative of four friends: Haim Hefer (text), Marcel Janco (illustrations), Itche Mambush (production) and Amikam Gurevich (publication).

Janco used collage in most of the book’s illustrations, a technique he had already used during his Dada period. The technique was considered an appropriate means of expressing opposition to traditional aesthetics. The illustrations comprise a mixture of newspaper clippings, mainly headlines and photographs, and the artist’s earlier works from the 1940s in which the image of the fighting soldier is prominent—an image that is heroic on the one hand and suffering and wounded on the other. The collages include headlines clipped from newspapers in a number of languages. Alongside these are authentic photographs of the daring soldiers, the generals and the major sites in Jerusalem: the Western Wall and the Tower of David.

This album is closely tied to creative works produced by the founders of the state (known as dor taschach or the 1948 generation), as Ilan Nachshon wrote: “Compared to the slim volumes published during the Palmach period, this new and elegant album is a rare artistic achievement. No less impressive are Janco’s illustrations, an original interplay between drawing and photography. Yet despite the changes, this is still the same thing in a different guise. Haim Hefer is the living bridge between the 1948 songs “Hen Efshar” (“Yes, It’s Possible”) and “Hayu Zmanim” (“There Were Times”) and the books Hayinu Keholmim (We Were Dreamers) and Misdar HaLochamim published after the Six Day War” (Ilan Nachshon, “Soldiers show their respect for Misdar HaLochamim,” Yedioth Ahronoth, 10 May 1968, p. 14). Janco’s illustrations also serve as a living bridge between the topics of his work in the 1940s and his return to these topics after the Six Day War.

During his lifetime Janco illustrated quite a few books. His illustrations are complete works in and of themselves. The series of collages in Misdar HaLochamim represents a unique chapter in the work of Marcel Janco: Photographs of soldiers are “planted” in drawings of battlefields and of the walls of Jerusalem. Protruding from the historic 1938 photograph of Yitzhak Sadeh, Moshe Dayan and Yigal Allon is a huge drawing of the Palmach symbol. And to the iconic 1967 photograph of three paratroopers with helmets at the Western Wall Janco added a photo of his 1948 drawing “Lamentations” in which he affixed a helmet to the soldier’s head. The illustration that closes the book links between a battle photograph and Janco’s well-known heroic drawing depicting Nike, the goddess of victory, embracing and covering a kneeling soldier. The images of the soldiers appearing throughout the book are designed using the same language Janco used to draw soldiers in the 1940s.

The exhibition marks 50 years since the Six Day War, 50 years since publication of the volume Misdar HaLochamim and 70 years since the establishment of the State of Israel. It includes a variety of works by Marcel Janco created during the years of struggle for statehood and the period before and after the Six Day War, with the works from the book serving as its unifying thread.

Raya Zommer-Tal
Exhibition Curator

Thanks to Dadi Janco, the Alkara Gallery, ACUM and Yedioth Ahronoth