An annual journal, entitled Mouseio Benaki, aims to promote the Museum’s collections and research departments by publishing scholarly papers on objects in the collections and by reporting on the Museum's annual activities. It includes both Greek and foreign language texts, accompanied by English and Greek abstracts respectively.


The Drawings of Isaac Saporta, Diplom-Ingenieur, Architect

Kardamitsi-Adami Maro

193-200, 2003

In Spring 2000 I went to Atlanta, Georgia together with my colleague Margarita Sakka-Thivaiou, in order to receive the architectural archive of Isaac Saporta (1910-1998). Of Jewish origin, Saporta was born in Volos, where he spent his childhood. He studied architecture in Vienna and then travelled round Europe, where he got to know personalities in the intellectual world, formed friendships, and found himself at the centre of developments in architecture. He returned to Athens and settled there, marrying Nora Nechama, daughter of the distinguished Thessaloniki lawyer Joseph Nechamas. The war would take Saporta to the mountains as a member of the Resistance and Nora to a German concentration camp. They were reunited in 1945, decided to emigrate and in 1947 left for Atlanta to begin a new life.

In Atlanta Saporta would work, build and teach as an academic at the local architectural college, while engaging himself in the struggle for black civil rights and the protection of the environment. He retained his close ties with Greece and often made visits there. During the last of these he decided to leave his architectural archive to the Archives of Neo-Hellenic Architecture at the Benaki Museum, even though he had already received an approach from the architectural school at Georgia Tech.

As well as his architectural designs, we found in the archive a huge number of drawings... mainly sketches made with pencil, crayon, marker pen, biro, dip-pen, paintbrush, fountain pen… small sketches, tiny sketches (3 x 5 cm), large sketches (50 x 70 cm)... sketches on ricepaper, tracing paper, cardboard, wrapping paper... experiments with techniques and materials.

Just a few drawings belong to the pre-war period. The vast majority, almost 99% of the total, were made between 1947 and the time of his death. His output falls into two main categories –landscapes and female nudes. There are also smaller groups –animals, street scenes and episodes from everyday life, portraits– but the numbers are very small.

He rarely coloured his sketches and worked mainly in black and white. But he fills you with light and colour... sometimes incredibly frugal, sometimes luxuriant. Sensitive, sensual, he gives free range to his personality and his soul, without any sign either of shame or of boastfulness.

Perhaps the most important aspect of his work are the female nudes. The lines of Elytis come to mind: “A glance at the small, the trivial, the great, the eternal”. Some drawings he was especially fond of and reworked again and again… reducing, enlarging, elaborating by adding or removing details.

Saporta’s whole philosophy and life emerges from his drawings. The joy of existence, the open-handed sharing of this joy with those around one, family and friends, love of beauty, youth, life. “Hommage ŕ la jeunesse et la beauté” , as he himself wrote at the foot one of his female nudes.


Ike Saporta, architect, professor, Atlanta activist

Date: November 17, 1998

Publication: The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution, Page C6

Ike Saporta, 88, a longtime Atlanta architect known as "Mr. Piedmont Park" for his outspoken neighborhood activism, carried magic markers and a sketchbook nearly everywhere he went. The creative, good-natured artist handed out thousands of sketches over the years -- of Greek landscapes, cocktail waitresses, old buildings. He also handed Atlanta his own progressive vision of a better city and worked for decades to bring that vision to life.