Marc Chagall: World in Turmoil

Marc Chagall: World in Turmoil

“The whole history is packing bundles and getting away. Nobody else can be as tender and delicate with bundles. That’s a Jewish man tying a bundle.”

Those lines from Arthur Miller’s Monte Saint Angelo aptly characterizes an unusual exhibit of paintings by Marc Chagall during his period of exile from the 1930s and 1940s which opened in Frankfurt and will run till February 19, 2023. The exhibit is called World in Turmoil.

“A few kilometers from there is a place, more precisely a town, which I haven’t visited for a long time, but I always remember it. So I took advantage of your invitation to go and wander around there a little,” Marc Chagall said at the World YIVO Conference held in Vilnius (Wilno) on August 14, 1935.

This conference is mentioned in the artist’s biography and the catalog for the exhibit at that time. His journey back to Poland (now Lithuania) gave rise to works which appear unusual and dark for Chagall. His oeuvre is usually arranged chronologically, from his native Vitebsk, striving to reattain this magical homeland. In Vilnius Chagall comes as close as possible to actually returning.

The interior of the Great Synagogue in Vilnius and several other works in pencil and oil shown in Paris present viewers with an almost unknown Chagall. He seems to have abandoned for the time being his own style, consistent as a signature running through his creative career. Viewing the drawings on paper and paintings on canvas–actually on cardboard glued to canvas–we dive into detail: the stained-glass windows and powerful columns supporting the vaults of the ancient synagogue.

Article in Russian here.

Frankfurt’s Schirn Gallery exhibition information here.

Vilna Synagogue, 1935