Chagall in Israel
September 10, 2002 - March 15, 2003 (extended)

Marc Chagall holds a unique place in the history of Modern Art. Although he came into contact with and was influenced by the major styles and movements of the early twentieth century, Chagall's poetic art remained distinctively his own. His paintings are characterized by the confluence of his Jewish and Russian background and modern European art trends. These variant strands were then woven into a very personal mode of expression. In part this individual idiom was the result of the Hasidic traditions that permeated his home life in Vitebsk, the city where he was born and spent his youth. The breakdown of the barriers that separated visions and reality in his paintings was a natural extension of the mystical milieu that surrounded him. The use of symbolic images was inherent in his Jewish heritage. Often his subjects included aspects of Jewish life, portraits of Jews, and everyday life in the shtetl. He translated these into visual metaphors, flights of fancy unbound by the laws of logic or gravity.

Together with the fantastic aspects of his work, Chagall was also a realist. The majority of the people and places he depicted were grounded in his immediate surroundings, and much of his poetic imagery, once deciphered, proves to be an expression of a concrete, historical or autobiographical reality. Biblical subjects as well, particularly when employed in projects for Jerusalem, tend not only to retell ancient stories but are also often imbued with additional meanings that reflect the artist's hopes and worldview. Even Yiddish sayings take on concrete form and intermesh within overall motifs. Somewhere between realism and visual metaphor Chagall invents his very own language.

All the works on display are drawn from Israeli collections, public and private. The exhibition's title reflects this, and also indicates that there is a section of the display devoted to Chagall's connections to Israel. Other sections of the exhibition focus on recurrent themes in his oeuvre, religious and secular. Chagall's art straddled those two worlds, but both were informed by his early years in the Jewish shtetl, which proved to be a wellspring that continually nourished his creativity.

This exhibition is part of a joint project conceived by the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, to highlight the strength of Israel's modern art collections. Many of the works are on loan from the Tel Aviv Museum. Concurrently, many works from the Israel Museum are on loan for an exhibition of Pablo Picasso in Tel Aviv.

Three Acrobats, 1926
The Great Circus, 1956
Jew with Torah, 1925

The Praying Jew, 1912–13

Interior of a Synagogue in Safed, 1931

The Lovers, 1937

The Bride and Groom of the Eiffel Tower, 1952–54

Solitude, 1933

The Wailing Wall, 1932

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