Jacob Otto Pins (17 January 1917 – 4 December 2005) was a German-Israeli woodcut artist and notable art collector, particularly of Japanese prints and paintings.
Pins was born in Höxter, Germany, the son of Dr Leo Pins, a veterinarian, and his wife Ida Lipper. He moved to Palestine in 1936, on a student visa. His father tried to discourage him from studying art, believing it to be a poor choice financially. His younger brother Rudolph (born 1920) emigrated to the USA in 1934. Both of his parents died in the Riga ghetto in July 1944, his father having earlier been imprisoned in Buchenwald.
Pins first lived on a kibbutz, which was disbanded in 1941. He moved to Jerusalem and studied woodcut and linocut under woodcut master and painter Jacob Steinhardt, also a German immigrant, at his small private school. He lived in poverty in a tiny room, subsisting on a meagre diet. He continued his studies at the new Bezalel Academy of Art and Design.
Pins bought his first oriental print in 1945, and acquired a house on Ethiopia Street, opposite the Ethiopian church, where he lived for the rest of his life. He continued collecting until his death and was one of Israel's foremost art collectors. HIs book on Japanese Pillar Prints, Hashira-e is the definitive work on the subject.
His own artwork was heavily influenced by German expressionism and traditional Japanese wood block printing.
From 1956 to 1977, Pins taught at all Israel's leading art schools, most notably Bezalel, where he later became a professor. He was known as a demanding teacher, emphasising strong technical skills and discipline.
In the 1950s, Pins established Jerusalem's Artists' House, which fast became a centre for the city's artists to both meet and exhibit. It remains central to the city's artistic life.
He died in Jerusalem.
Jacob Pins: Woodcuts: Herzliya Museum of Art, December 92 - January 93
- Jacob Pins Woodcuts. Exhibition catalog, Boston, Boston Public Library, 1953. Paperback, 15 pp with six black and white woodcuts.
- Master woodcuts by Jacob Pins. Oblong octavvo, staples paper covers, 12pp., b/w illustrations. Introduction by Ruth Eis. A short catalog of the exhibition, May 5-June 30, 1974, Judah L. Magnes Museum, Berkeley, California, 1974
- The Japanese Pillar Print, Hashira-e London Robert G Sawers Publlishing, 1982, 389 pages, 14 pages in color and 1039/XXV11 illustrations in black and white.
- The Pins Collection: Chinese and Japanese paintings and prints. Israel Museum, Israel, 1980
- The Jacob Pins Collection of Japanese Prints, Paintings and Sculptures. Israel Museum (Jerusalem) 1994 (ISBN 9652781614).
Pins was married to Elsa, the subject of a number of his prints, They had no children.
His very extensive collection of Japanese woodprints, paintings and sculptures has been left to the Israel Museum, where it forms the Jacob Pins Collection.
Most of his own artwork was left to his home town, and the Forum Jacob Pins museum opened there in 2008.
Nimrod Erez made a feature length documentary about Pins, and this is in the permanent collection of MOMA, New York. A shorter documentary is on exhibition at the Jacob Pins Forum, Höxter.
- Jacob Pins Gesellschaft, Höxter website (in German only)
- The Jacob Pins Collection in the Israel Museum, Jerusalem
- Jacob Pins' 1947 Government of Palestine identity card with photo from www.passportland.com