Love, War and Exile


If all you ever knew of Marc Chagall were his fiddlers and happy lovers, this exhibit at the Jewish Museum will be a change.

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Lodged in the former Warburg Mansion, the Museum serves as a living repository of Jewish art, thought and history,

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but as we know, you don’t have to be Jewish to love Chagall. This is an artist who was exiled first from Russia then France, who found safety in the US during the war years but suffered vicariously with its victims.

Searing red images of death, separation and fear permeate this collection.

Image(Source: pbs.org)

And while his familiar iconography–cows, cocks, and flying fish–are all here, so too are grimmer images of the crucified Christ in talit-colored loincloth that Chagall used

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to convey the Jews’ despair. His Guernica-like war scenes use his familiar palette very differently from his paintings of lovers.

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He had painted his beloved Bella many times

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but her unexpected death in 1947 resulted in silence for the better part of a year after which he was able to express himself again, often in images of Image(Source: huffingtonpost.com)

loss and longing. But this is not a depressing show; it highlights moving work by an artist sometimes regarded as too pleasant or sugary to be good. Decide for yourself.

The Museum charges $12 for seniors, but Saturdays are free and Thursdays 5-8 pm are pay-what-you-wish. The cafe downstairs has a fine selection of onion rolls, challah and babkas so you won’t go hungry.

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