Yigal Tumarkin, a painter, sculptor, theorist and stage designer, was born in 1933 as Peter Martin Gregor Heinrich Halberg, in Dresden, Germany. His mother was Jewish, while his father, Martin Halberg, director and actor, was a Christian German. In 1935, Tumarkin immigrated to Israel with his mother, who remarried to Herzl Tumarkin, who became his father.
In 1954 Tumarkin worked with sculptor Rudi Lehman in Ein Hod for about a year. And focused on the design of figures and forms that are detached from both academic and avant-garde approaches.
In 1955, Tumarkin traveled to East Germany and worked as a designer for the Berliner Ensemble, the theater of Bertold Brecht. In the 1960s Tumarkin lived in various places in Europe, mainly Germany, Holland and France, where he was exposed to the Dada movement, pop art, avant- garde art and metal works by Julio Gonzalez. Under those influences he began to formulate the conception of his work.
During the Yom Kippur War, Tumarkin accompanied the IDF forces as a photographer and military correspondent, and his photographs of that time, as well as other visual materials, served him to create a series of 30 silkscreen prints on canvas that were exhibited in a solo exhibition.
Tumarkin's work has undergone various transformations over the years, while adopting new materials and motifs. Formally, his works regularly include bold connections between dramatic coloration, rigid geometry, the use of metals alongside soft, organic material.
Various commentators pointed to the complexity of the images in his work. His paintings and sculptures regularly contain lyrical images and motifs of a high European culture, confronted with a blatantly expressive language, with weapons, and images of mental and physical vulnerability.
Along with small works, Tumarkin has been able to place sculptures and monuments throughout Israel, often in desert or rural areas.
Over the years Tumarkin published a series of articles in which he expressed his reservations about contemporary Israeli art and culture.