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Ephraim Rubenstein: The Rilke Series

January 28 to February 27, 1994

Marsh Art Gallery

Introduction: Rilke and Rubenstein

The first time I met Ephraim Rubenstein, some eight years ago, and looked at his early paintings I immediately sensed a powerful poetic quality coming out of his paintbrush. This ambitious exhibition not only confirms my initial feeling, but surpasses anything I could have thought of at that time. It is rare these days to find a young artist inspired, not by pop culture or the mass media, but by a classic of literature. I find it interesting and refreshing to see such good work deriving out of one of this century's greatest European poets, Rainer Maria Rilke.

One of my favorite analogies in describing a great artist is to compare him or her to a priest, a nun, or a rabbi. God speaks through these religious leaders to nourish us, the parishioners, with his spirit. I have seen a few moments like that take place during my forty-three years of running a contemporary gallery. The story as to how Rilke started the Duino Elegies is legendary. As Rilke walked along the Duino Castle in Trieste, a strong wind whipped by and whispered the first lines to him. Truly a case of God speaking through an artist. This collection of paintings and drawings makes me think of Ephraim Rubenstein in a similar manner.

The works are beautiful visual complements to the words of Rilke's poetry. Each of these two have concerned themselves with two important themes: truth and harmony. And though these goals are shared, their specific results may be different. Rubenstein's landscapes are of the area he now knows best: Richmond, Virginia. Rubenstein's figures do not wear turn-of-the-century outfits, but contemporary clothing. His work also has a quiet contemplative mood, perhaps best personified by The Sap is Mounting Back or the rose still lifes which were painted in a quiet corner of his city home.

As the animals gathered around Orpheus to listen to him play music and sing, now let us gather around Ephraim Rubenstein's paintings and drawings.

Tibor de Nagy

Publication Date



University of Richmond Museums


Richmond, VA; New York, NY


University of Richmond Museums, realism, Ephraim Rubenstein, Rainer Maria Rilke, poetry, painting, Tibor de Nagy Gallery, Marsh Art Gallery


Art and Design | Fine Arts | Painting

Ephraim Rubenstein: The Rilke Series