Marc Chagall holds a singular place in the canon of modern painters. Melding symbolic elements and iconographies from the traditions of Jewish Hasidism, eastern Orthodoxy and western Christianity, as well as incorporating motifs drawn from his Russian cultural roots and his fondness for France, Chagall created a dynamic and personally significant series of Bible-based images. Examining issues of historical context and evolving religious sensibilities, MOBIA’s exhibition represents an important moment in the reappraisal and deepening understanding of the artist’s intriguing and unique images of biblical heroes, prophets, and scenes of the crucifixion.
No other modernist painter melded the traditions of Jewish Hasidism, eastern Orthodoxy, and western catholic tradition into such dramatically rich and personally significant expressions of biblical narratives. From his White Russian youth in Vitebsk to his professional life as a painter in Paris, Chagall recorded in his graphic works and paintings symbolic elements derived from each of these religious traditions. The intersection of Hasidic and Christian iconographies in Chagall’s representations of biblical heroes, prophets, or scenes of the Crucifixion yields an intriguing dynamic tension, which has never been adequately addressed in a major museum exhibition. This exhibition will identify salient details in Chagall’s oeuvre that demonstrate the intersection of his fascination with Jewish and Christian traditions, as well as, the interaction between his cultural roots in Russia and his fondness for France.
Chagall’s Bible: Mystical Storytelling is made possible, in part, by a generous contribution from Case Systems, Midland, Michigan. This exhibition is made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency. The educational brochure and audio tour are made possible by the New York Council for the Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. Major support for MOBIA’s exhibitions has been provided by the American Bible Society and by the Ahmanson Charitable Community Trust. Support for educational programs has been provided, in part, by the Robert W. Johnson IV Charitable Trust.