Nassau County Museum of Art opens Chagall exhibition

Nassau County Museum of Art opens an exhibition of work by Marc Chagall, on view July 21-November 4, 2012, ncluding First Local Showing of 1957 Bible Series of Hand-Colored Etchings.

The works selected demonstrate how Chagall, throughout a long and distinguished career, incorporated facets of his early Russian-Jewish heritage into multilayered works. Chagall’s storytelling paintings portray a fantastic pictorial world where heaven and earth seem to meet, and couples are always in love. It’s a world where people and animals—cows, goats, donkeys, horses and birds—float upside down or sideways, irrespective of the laws of gravity. Chagall’s hypersensitive imagination is palpable as he shares with the viewer his memories of family in brilliantly colored works set amidst the houses and streets of his native Vitebsk.

Marc Chagall, Le clown vert, 1970-75. Oil on canvas, 33 X 24 cms. Private Collection. Marc Chagall © 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

The Bible etchings on view in Marc Chagall are on loan from the Haggerty Art Museum of Marquette University in Milwaukee. Chagall’s biographer, Franz Meyer, wrote: “Chagall’s ties with the Bible are very deep indeed; the forms that people its world are a part of his own inner life, part of the living Jewish heritage, and thus are archetypes of a greater, more intensive world.” In Marc Chagall—The Graphic Works, Meyer speculates that the significance of the Bible in Chagall’s work was rooted in his early childhood experiences in Russia.

Marc Chagall (1887-1985) was the eldest of nine children born to a poor Russian-Jewish family in the village of Vitebsk. His artistic talent was evident early with a distinctive style of images from childhood emerging during his studies with Leon Bakst in St. Petersburg. Working in Paris from 1910 to 1914, Chagall began to produce paintings inspired by Russian folklore and village life. During World War I, Chagall returned to Russia, ascending to the post of Commissar for Fine Arts in Vitebsk. It was there that he produced works that were to become his most famous—images in strong, bright colors depicting otherworldly states that fused fantasy, nostalgia and religion. He returned to France permanently after World War I, save for the years of the Nazi occupation when he fled to the safety of New York and its environs.

Nassau County Museum of Art
One Museum Drive, Roslyn Harbor, New York 11576 . 516.484.9338

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