||Ernst Neizvestny achieved great success in the Soviet Union but controversy followed his career. For many years, he worked on the Jewish themes of the Holocaust and Yizkor but was unable to show or publish the work. He came to the attention of the west after a public conformation with ex-Premier Khrushchev at an art opening. In 1971, he entered an international competition for a statue to be placed on the Aswan Dam. To the embarrassment of both Egypt & USSR, Neizvestny, a Jewish sculptor, won.
Despite honors and privileges bestowed on him by the Soviet Government, Neizvestny preferred to have freedom to work openly on the themes of his choice. In 1976, he was finally allowed to leave the country. Now in the United States, he continues to devote much of his creative effort to Jewish history.
The Twelve Tribes of Israel is one of Neizvestny's major works. His breadth of vision and commitment to Jewry are uniquely suited to the awesome task of interpreting this ancient theme in terms of contemporary urban civilization.
The artist has chosen to work not only in monumental sculpture but in other media because he feels strongly that "the pulse of an idea beats in it's smallest fragment." In the art forms offered here, more people will be able to share in the idea of Neizvestny's work in the which the emblems of the Twelve Tribes are represented individually and integrated in compositions symbolizing the unity of the Jewish people.