The stories and heroes of the Bible receive a powerful artistic interpretation in a monumental sculpture exhibition by the renowned sculptor Manel Alvarez at the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem.

World renowned 66 year-old Spanish sculptor, Manel Alvarez, presents an exhibition of 17 monumental sculptures influenced by the Book of Books and corresponding with modern sculpture. Themes such as the Tree of Life, the Tree of Knowledge, Joseph and His Brothers, the Tower of Babylon and many others are brought to life in marble, iron, bronze and wood.

Inspired will be on display at The Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem for six months.

Opening – 07/04/11
Closing – 31/12/11

Opening hours:
Sun., Mon., Tue., Thu. 09:30-17:30
Wed. 09:30-21:30
Fri. and holiday eves 09:30-14:00
Sat. 10:00-15:00

Curators: Esti Drori and Doron Polak
For the first time in nearly a decade the Bible Lands Museum opens its doors to an exhibition of modern art. The exhibition, “INSPIRED – Manel Alvarez on the Bible”, consists of a series of impressive sculptures on the theme of the Bible, by renowned sculptor Manel Alvarez, and opens to the public on April 7th. It will include 17 monumental sculptures based on the stories and characters of the Bible, and will run for six months before continuing its journey to the United States.

Alvarez, 66, a world renowned Spanish sculptor, works in traditional materials – stone, iron, granite and wood. The power of his work is evident in the combined product of a refined poetic message with raw natural materials and simple yet massive shapes in the tradition of modern sculpting. His sculptures’ aesthetics are reminiscent of preceding Spanish artists such as Picasso and Chillida, yet thematically Alvarez can be placed among a long line of painters and sculptors who drew their inspiration from the Bible.

The sculptures

“It’s hard to believe that with such an ancient subject as inspiration, Alvarez managed to create such contemporary sculptures that can withstand the test of time”, so writes publicist Luis Bassat in the introduction to the artist’s book. The sculpture’s use of classic geometrical shapes in – and outside the laws of symmetry, while creating tension between space and mass, are reminiscent of architectural structures.

Consequently, the sculptures’ connection to the biblical theme is metaphoric or associative, as can be seen for instance, in the sculptures of the tribes of Issachar, Zebulun and Ephraim, and the sculptures of Joshua and Saul. In more figurative sculpture, like that of Moses or of Joseph and his Brothers, the connection is more iconographic.

The largest and most impressive of the series is “The Tower of Babylon” – a magnificent cone shaped structure carved out of solid Carrara marble, stands 12 m. high. The power of this piece is in the mixed emotions it induces in the spectator – awe and wonder, at the massiveness of this structure that spins all of humanity around it.
“The Tower of Babylon”, along with “Ephraim”, will be installed on the Museum’s entrance plaza and the remainder of the works will be inside the Museum and in the Biblical Garden.

On the artist

Born in Barcelona, Spain in 1945, Alvarez began his career as an interior designer and industrial designer.  Simultaneously he developed his unique artistic sculpting style, opening his first public exhibition in 1971. In 1975, after receiving a scholarship, he traveled to Italy, where he fell in love with Carrara marble which became the prominent material of his artwork.

The Golden Calf – The Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem

Photo: Ron Peled

Alvarez’s powerful works have been on display in many exhibitions around the world, and a number of them have been made permanent installations in public parks and corporate headquarters.  In addition to his works seen throughout Spain, his sculptures are also on permanent display in France, Italy, Germany, Brazil and the United States. In 1996 he created two sculptures for the Atlanta Olympic Games.

One, “The Dance of Peace”, is currently displayed in the Fulton County Judicial Center in Atlanta. The other, “Covering Spaces”, is on the campus of the University of Georgia in Athens. Other sculptures can be found in the home offices of international conglomerates such as Ford, Nestle and CNN, as well as at the Spanish Royal Household.

Alvarez’ series of biblical sculptures follows his last series created on the visual themes of Africa. He is currently working on the construction of a huge monument for the entrance to the Panama Canal, a few steps away from the Biodiversity Museum designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry.

About the museum

The Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem is the only museum in the world that presents the history and cultures of the Ancient Near East from a biblical point of view. Situated in the city’s cultural heart, the Bible Lands Museum houses an extraordinary, priceless collection of ancient art and archaeology from the lands of the Bible showcasing the history of the ancient world from the dawn of civilization to the Early Christian Era.

The Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem

Photo: Ron Peled

Rare gems, sculptures, and mosaics tell the story of the lands and people of the Bible. The collection, covering 21 permanent galleries and special exhibitions, allows a glimpse into the spiritual and material world of our ancestors.

The Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem specializes in exhibitions that show the influences of ancient cultures on one another. These exhibitions, along with accompanying cultural and educational programs, bring the discussion on history and past cultures to life. “We are very excited to bring this remarkable exhibition to Jerusalem for its premier viewing.

With the exhibition INSPIRED – Manel Alvarez on the Bible, the BLMJ invites the contemporary interpretation of biblical themes and shares the appreciation of the relevance of the Bible as a source of inspiration in the 21st Century” says Amanda Weiss, Director of the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is an extraordinary city, embodying the contrasts of past and present, ancient and contemporary and the Bible Lands Museum is the perfect example of this. Located in the heart of Museum Row, it offers an important historical perspective to the development of culture in our region. It is no wonder, then, that Manel Alvarez chose Jerusalem and the Bible Lands Museum as the first stop for his artwork, as part of his international tour.

Along with the rare archaeological exhibits on display, the BLMJ also serves as a vibrant cultural center offering daily guided tours, weekly lectures, courses, musical evenings, family activities and much more.

Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem
Museum Row, Avraham Granot 25 Jerusalem
Phone: 02-5611066

Opening hours:
Sun., Mon., Tue., Thu. 09:30-17:30
Wed. 09:30-21:30
Fri. and holiday eves 09:30-14:00
Sat. 10:00-15:00
Daily guided tours: English – 10:30; Hebrew – 11:00
Additional tours on Wed.: English – 17:30; Hebrew – 18:00