Yosel Bergner, awardee of the 1979-80 Israel Prize, was born in Vienna in 1920. He grew up in Warsaw and immigrated to Australia with his family in 1937. The artist studied in the art school of the National Gallery. During World War II, he fought in the ranks of the Australian army for four and a half years. He reached Israel in 1950 after having wandered and exhibited in Paris, New York and Canada. Bergner is the son of the Yiddish poet, Melech Ravitz.
Bergner has resided in Safed and Tel Aviv. In addition to his paintings, he has designed scenery and costumes for various theaters and for the plays of Nissim Aloni. Bergner has also illustrated many books.
Bergner's style, crystallized in the early sixties, extends from expressionism to illusory-surrealistic painting with characteristic Israeli elements. He explores themes of the Holocaust and Return to the Land. In recent years, Bergner has returned to expressive painting void of surrealistic features. "The Weepers" uses an obvious though moving symbolism of windows that are illusions and through which there is no escape.
Since 1950 he has held a number of one-man shows. His works have also been displayed abroad, particularly in Paris. He participated in the Biennale in Venice three times and in Sao Paulo and other international exhibitions. In 1975, a retrospective exhibition of his works was mounted at the Tel Aviv Museum. Included among the works displayed was his famous painting of the three crossed graters.
Paintings created by Yosel Bergner hang in numerous museums and private collections in Israel and throughout the world.