11 beautiful posters from Israel Independence Days past

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Independence Day 2009’s poster marked the centenary of Tel Aviv. Photo courtesy of Israel State Archives

Each year, ever since the founding of the state, an official poster is issued in celebration of Israel’s independence. Some of these images, created by leading Israeli graphic artists, have risen to iconic status.

Often, these posters serve as didactic tools to illustrate an annual theme. In all cases, they present a moment in Israel’s national history: its concerns and achievements during the past year, as well as hopes and goals for the coming one.

The following selection of some of the most important and beautiful posters issued over the past 70 years is taken from Israel’s State Archive.

In 1949, Israel’s first year, the mood was somber, and the graphics done in Socialist Realist style by German-born award-winning Israeli painter, illustrator and set designer Yohanan Simon. The text was taken directly from the young state’s Proclamation of Independence: “This right is the natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate, like all other nations, in their own sovereign State.”

Ten years later, in 1958, Israeli archaeologists were embarking on what would be known as the second golden age of biblical archaeology, and the national passion for uncovering ancestral roots was reflected in that year’s Independence Day poster by Israeli sculptor, painter and graphic artist Miriam Karoly.

A new decade and a new generation of native-born Israeli ‘Sabras’ was celebrated in this 1960s poster by wall-hanging artist, painter and graphic artist Kopel Gurwin. Gurwin went on to design one of the most memorable of Independence Day posters, a wall hanging honoring 20 years of independence in 1968.

In the late 1960s through the 1970s, Israeli artists were influenced by the counterculture in music and the arts, ushering in a wave of fairly trippy Independence Day posters. These also served as educational outreach to young Diaspora Jews, more of whom were spending time in Israel, and in need of some colorful dorm-room wall décor.

The 1971 poster for Israel’s 23rd Independence Day, again by Gurwin, echoed this spirit by portraying the Sabra not as a hard-working, folk-dancing pioneer, but rather as a flower child.

The 1976 28th anniversary poster featured artwork by Siona Shimshi, an Israeli painter, sculptor, ceramist and textile designer.
The following year’s poster, The 29th Anniversary of the Unification of Jerusalem, 1967-1977’ was produced by Ora and Eliahu Schwartz.

Israel’s 30th Independence Day was marked with two posters: Independence Day 5738 featured a drawing by a child from Korea, a participant in the Children of the World Draw Jerusalem exhibition.

The other, Thirty Years of Israel’s Independence features an iconic image by leading graphic artist David Tartakover. It was also no less than prophetic, coming out just prior to Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s surprising arrival in Jerusalem and the beginning of the peace process with Egypt.

Ten years later, Israel’s 40th anniversary was marked with a totally 80s rainbow-hued poster.
In 1996, with the advent of the dot.com era, and the emergence of what would be called the Start-up Nation, the Independence Day poster celebrated Education & Industry with bitmapped computer graphics by Shmuel Zafrani.

In 2009, the centenary of the first modern Jewish city, Tel Aviv, with an architectural history ranging from Bauhaus to Azrieli, was recognised in the 61st Independence Day poster by Ohad Elimelech and Avi Haltovsky.

For a full gallery of Israel Independence Day posters, check out the Israel State Archives online, or head over to the wonderful Nostalgia Israel website for its collection of posters and more.

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