Prof. John Byle, painter, sculptor and educator, was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1928. He studied at the Olivet College in Michigan and then at the Chicago Art Institute, but in 1951, in the aftermath of the Holocaust and as McCarthyism spread through America, the Christian-Atheist Byle impulsively decided to leave the United States and come to the new state of Israel, where he aspired to take part in the building of a “new world”.
He settled in Kibbutz Urim in the Negev desert and there, cut off from the bustle of the metropolis, in the serenity desert, his painting turned from figurative to abstract and he began to develop the personal handwriting that would come to be identified with his works in future years.
After 5 years in the kibbutz, Byle moved to Tel Aviv and taught in various art schools. In 1967 he was asked to teach at a new department of fine arts that opened at the Bezalel Academy (then school for crafts and design). He soon became the first head of the department, which under his management became the first department of Bezalel to be accredited by Israel’s Council for Higher Education.