From the Eurovision to the Smurfs

Dov Ben David (1927-2010) was one of the senior stage designers in Israel. Ben David designed dozens of stage sets throughout his 29 years of work in television. At the same time, he designed sets for public events, plays, shows, children shows (the Smurfs), exhibitions, films, multimedia shows and more. Ben David had also worked on the development of a unique language of photography, with which he created imaginary worlds – "photo-painting".

Ben David was born in Poland (1927). He fled it with his family as a child, after the Nazis occupied their hometown, and reached the deserts of Tajikistan, where his artistic talent was discovered in the drawing of portraits. He continued to draw and paint when he immigrated to Israel and was recruited to the Palmach in 1948. He studied at the Avni Institute in Tel Aviv, under the guidance of Streichman, Zaritsky, Yanko and Mokadi, and completed his training in Paris. Upon his return to Israel, at the end of the 1950s, he developed a singular style of working with polyester. In these years he also started to design sets for the theater.

After training in set design for the Italian television, he came back to Israel and began working as a senior set designer in the Israeli television, which was established in 1968. The sets he designed in this period – a round studio and song festivals, were familiar to all. The sets of Ben David were part of shows like "Petals",  Ivrit Safa Yafa", "This is Your Life", "Ad Pop", and many more.

Designing the set for the Eurovision song contest held in Israel in 1979 was the pinnacle of his work: it included rings that turn round, with colors that change with each song which were a real innovation at the time. This contest is considered to be one of the best in the history of the Eurovision, and the set is a significant part of it.



Introduction / Prof. (Emeritus) Ben-Ami Scharfstein

Dov Ben-David is an artist whose material is space. Therefore, when I ask him what he has done with his life, he answers, “Design,” and when I persist and ask, design what? he answers, “Space.” Space where? I ask. “Wherever it’s needed,” he answers.

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Always with a Smile / Dan Almagor

There are people whom you share your work with for many years, which seem to never be able to surprise you with something you didn’t already know and suddenly, often too late, you discover a part of their personality, their work, that they have never mentioned all these years. Possibly because of such humbleness Bialik wrote his praised poem “Humble People of the World”; a humbleness always hiding behind a soft voice and a captivating smile. This was Dov.

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My Life Story / Dov Ben David

I was born in the city of Kalisz, Poland, to the Naparstek family in 1927. I had two older brothers: Yehudah and Shmuel. In September 1939, Germany started the war against Poland. The western part of Poland including Kalisz was annexed to Germany. Jews were required to wear a yellow patch with the Star of David.

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The Plurality and Uniformity of Dov Ben David / Dr. Gideon Ofrat

Is it possible that having numerous technical skills and virtuosity in controlling various forms of expressions are the reasons responsible for presenting his extensive body of work in multi-disciplinary and stylistically mixed fashions?

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Reflections / Talma Admon

He is known as a stage designer who designed the stage for the Eurovision Song Contest, and for "Fantasy in Wonderland". Now Dov Ben David is showing an exhibition of his works called "PhotoPainting", which consists of color photos of light reflections, in which he demonstrates his love for the play of light and motion in space.

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Biographical Landmarks

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