Skip to content

“It is a personal challenge to bring drawing to the extreme and see how far my eyes and fingers can go.” 

– Jacob El Hanani

Selected Works

El Hanani, Song of The Sea (Shirat Hayam), 2013

Jacob El Hanani 

Song of the Sea (Shirat Hayam), 2013

12 x 12 inches 

Ink on paper 


El Hanani, Vertical Line, 2011

Jacob El Hanani

Vertical Line, 2011

18 x 18 inches

Ink on paper

El Hanani, Quadric Surface, 2003

Jacob El Hanani 

Quadric Surface, 2003

18 1/8 x 18 1/8 inches 

Ink on paper 

El Hanani, Linescape (from the J.W. Turner Series), 2012

Jacob El Hanani

Linescape (from the J.W. Turner Series), 2012

22 x 28 inches 

Ink on paper 

El Hanani, Linear Scenery, 2004-5

Jacob El Hanani

Linear Scenery, 2004-05

15 x 20 inches

Graphite on paper

Press Release

For five decades, Jacob El Hanani (born 1947) has produced painstakingly detailed pen-and-ink drawings composed of countless microscopic marks woven into all-over abstractions. From afar, his drawings appear as shimmering abstract squares, but at close range elaborate patterns emerge and the viewer appreciates their profuse, and often nearly unfathomable, level of detail. El Hanani’s works need to be seen up close to appreciate their intricate craftsmanship.

Employing a range of forms—from minuscule linear strokes and tiny circles to elegantly written letters of the Hebrew alphabet and densely crosshatched lines—El Hanani’s innumerable marks are fluidly strung and linked into evocative patterns. Despite their apparent abstraction, his drawings are often suggestive of atmospheric landscapes, aerial views or topographical maps, and carefully woven textiles.

Exactingly made by hand in the unforgiving medium of ink on paper or on gessoed canvas, El Hanani’s drawings are achieved through extraordinary self-discipline. Working without a magnifying glass in brief stints in order to rest his eyes, these drawings take months or even years to complete, marking the passage of time and the limits of human endurance. The deliberate slowness of El Hanani’s meditative work strikes a counterpoint to the fast-paced tempo of today’s world; his images require more than a few seconds of our attention for us to marvel at their complexity. 

El Hanani’s intricate works are layered with historical and cultural references reflecting the artist’s personal background and diverse experiences. Born in Casablanca, Morocco, the artist was raised in Israel and studied art in Tel Aviv and Paris before moving to the Soho neighborhood of New York City in the early 1970s, where he still lives and works today. His drawings are rooted in the ancient Hebrew tradition of micrography, a medieval practice dating back to the 9th century in which Jewish scribes used miniature letters to form images or decorative patterns in manuscripts. El Hanani fuses this spiritual tradition with his interest in Minimalism, which was at the height of its influence when he moved to New York. The artist’s heritage, contemporary events, and the history of art also informs his practice.


Jacob El Hanani in his studio, 2020

Photo by Allison Carey

List of Solo Exhibitions

2021       Jacob El Hanani: Recent Works on Canvas, Acquavella Galleries, NY

2017       Jacob EL Hanani: Linescape, Acquavella Galleries, NY

2015       Jacob El Hanani Drawings, Acquavella Galleries, NY

2014       The Art of the Line, Sammer Gallery LLC, Miami, FL

2012       Linear Landscape: Ink Drawings, Holly Johnson Gallery, Dallas, TX

2008       Recent Work, Steven Zevitas Gallery, Boston, MA

2005       Drawing 1978–2005, Mills College, Oakland, CA

2004       Jacob El Hanani Drawings 1971–1987, Gallery Schlesinger, New York, NY

2003       OSP Gallery, Boston, MA

2002       Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, New York, NY

              Gallery Joe, Philadelphia, PA

2000       Mark Moore Gallery, Santa Monica, CA

               Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, New York, NY

               Gallery Joe, Philadelphia, PA

1999       Miller/Block Gallery, Boston, MA

1998       Todd Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco, CA

1995       Yoshii Gallery, New York, NY

1993       Galerie Renee Ziegler, Zurich

1988       Galerie Gilbert Brownstone, Paris

1978       Galerie Denise René, Paris

1977       Galerie Denise René, New York, NY

1975       Galerie Denise René, Paris


Selected Collections

In order of acquisition

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

The Museum of Modern Art, New York

The Jewish Museum, New York

The Brooklyn Museum, New York

Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris

The Israel Museum, Jerusalem

Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto

The Menil Collection, Houston

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

The Art Institute of Chicago

Walker Art Center, Minneapolis

The Tel-Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv

Petah Tikva Museum of Art, Petah Tikva

The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas, Caracas

The Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham

Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Mineeapolis

Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge

Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, Stanford, California

Weatherspoon Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro

Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College State University of New York, Purchase

The British Museum, London

Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis

The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

The Morgan Library & Museum, New York

Pérez Art Museum Miami, Miami

Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester, Rochester

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia

The exhibition is open Mondays through Saturdays from 10:00am to 6:00pm and Sundays from 11:00am to 5:00pm.


For interviews, background and images, please contact:

Abby Addams
Blue Medium, Inc
Tel: +1-212-675-1800

Emily Crowley
Acquavella Galleries
Tel: +1-212-734-6300