Nachum Gutman was born in Romania and immigrated to Israel in 1905, where he was able to make a name for himself as a unique and renowned writer, artist, and illustrator. He served in the Jewish Legion during the First World War, after which he decided to study at the Herzlia Gymnasium in Tel Aviv and at Bezalel in Jerusalem (1912). It was noted, however, that not only were his studies there brief, but he was amongst numerous other students who began to rebel against the old school manner of instruction. The result of his rebellious manner was the development of a unique style that combined his personal experience of building a new life in Israel, which contrasted with his adoption of the modernist trends coinciding with then European arts. It has been noted that such artists as Renoir, Picasso, Henri Rousseau, and Raoul Dufy often inspired his works. His sense of style was often portrayed in his exotic images of the Arab community and the Arab people, in which he depicted farm girls washing naked in the orange groves, depictions of shepherds and shepherdesses, and a series done displaying Jaffa’s brothels, capturing the instinctual and sensuous atmosphere of the Middle East. However, his later works were said to have taken on a lighter and more buoyant feel, then some of his earlier paintings.
In 1926, he had the fortunate opportunity to participate in the famous Tower of David Exhibition. In addition, over time, he became known as prolific children’s book author, and illustrator. His works were marked by pictorial narratives that portrayed their sentiments through the usage of an array of vibrant and poignantly chosen illustrations. His talent and hard work earned him the 1978 Israeli Prize for Children’s Literature. His works earned him the title “the artist of early Tel Aviv” seeing as he had a knack for portraying the bohemian and realistic vision of the city and its people. His illustrative writings often drew inspiration from ancient Asian motifs, such as Assyrian reliefs and Egyptian wall paintings.
Till this day some of his mosaic works are displayed in Bialik Square in Tel Aviv, which were installed in 1970, and tell the story of Tel Aviv, and Jaffa history and livelihood. In addition, after his death, there was the creation of the Nachum Gutman Museum, which is located in what is considered Tel Aviv’s first Jewish neighborhood, Neve Tzedek.