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Indepth Arts News:

2001-04-29 until 2001-10-14
Jewish Museum
New York, NY, USA United States of America

This spring, The Jewish Museum will present an exhibition of early works by Marc Chagall (1887-1985), created in Russia between 1908 and 1920. Marc Chagall: Early Works from Russian Collections will feature paintings, drawings and theater murals by Chagall in addition to paintings by Yehuda Pen, Chagall's first teacher and initial artistic influence. On view from April 29 through October 14, 2001, the exhibition will include 56 works by Marc Chagall including paintings, drawings, and Chagall's murals for the State Jewish Chamber Theater in Moscow. Also on view will be 13 paintings by Yehuda Pen, the first Jewish artist in the Pale of Settlement (the territory between the Black Sea and Vilnius, and from Minsk to Warsaw) to attend the Imperial Academy of Art in St. Petersburg, which will help visitors understand the sources and influences that shaped Marc Chagall's work. With the exception of the theater murals, the works in the exhibition have not been exhibited before in the Western Hemisphere. Marc Chagall: Early Works from Russian Collections is made possible by Dresdner Bank and is also sponsored by Delta Airlines with support from other generous donors.

Most of the Chagall works are on loan from The State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow and The State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, while others are being lent by provincial museums and private collections in Russia. The Pen paintings are coming from museums in Minsk and Vitebsk, in Belarus. How did Marc Chagall invent images that have captured the imagination of Western society, becoming part of our artistic imagination and visual language? Susan Tumarkin Goodman, curator of the exhibition, questions in her essay in the catalogue accompanying the show. The answer lies in his years in Russia, where he developed a powerful visual memory and a pictorial intelligence not limited to a mere configuration of his Russian life environs. Chagall's vision soared and he created a new reality, one that drew on both his inner and outer worlds. The works on view will underscore the artist's inspiration derived from the creative fusion of the provincial world of the Eastern European Jewish shtetl and the significant historical events of the time, including the outbreak of World War I and the 1917 Russian Revolution. Chagall's early works incorporate these influences, and manifest a uniqueness in the artist's ability to process and translate them into a language of visual metaphor that creates his singular expression. The Chagall works in this exhibition were left behind when Marc Chagall -- one of the major figures of the Russian avant-garde - left Russia for good in 1922. Chagall's themes and memories - rooted in his Jewish identity, the life of his village, and his personal relationships - would often recur in his later art, but never with the same vivid passion and sense of discovery revealed in his early works.

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