The 20th was the century of the Modernist. The established art world was flipped, turned, reinvented and remodeled in distinctive, brilliant and remarkable ways. Works produced by Picasso (Woman Weeping) and Munch (The Shriek) became symbols of their times and sparked a certain ethos. Dali’s Premonition of Civil War is one of the most disturbing paintings ever put to canvas while yet, strangely beautiful and alluring. It’s depiction of a creature wreathing in pain as it pulls and tears away at itself is fascinating. Fancis Bacon’s Study after Velasquez: Portrait of Pope Innocent X spoke to the fears and hopelessness embraced by many. The original serene baroque vision of a pope as produced by Velasquez became something of a nightmare when re-imagined by the mind and hand of Bacon. The practitioners of modern art; Picasso, Munch, Dali and Bacon addressed the dark dystopia hysteria of their times. But not so much did their peer, Chagall.
Marc Chagall was a Jewish/Russian born artist that sought freedom from his home country’s oppressive ideology, first in France and later in the United States. In spite of his objections to communism he remained true in spirit to his humble origins and his beliefs. This was within itself a radical thing. He loved his life and his people as he loved the whole of humanity. Chagall works to this day remain colorful, fanciful, unfailingly life affirming and intoxicating. The characters in his robust works; really poetic sagas, float, soar and entertain with joy. Canvas painting, stained glass and murals were all master by Chagall. Romantic love, the circus, village life and “The Crucifixion” were interestingly enough among his favorite subjects. He even and rightly so included Jewish symbols within many of his crucifixion paintings. He remains very much cherished and admired as well as an inspiration to lovers of art, religion and freedom.
As we look at the world today there are those living in the regions of Chagall’s birth; especially in Ukraine and in Russia that long for the same freedoms of life and creativity sought out by Marc Chagall. Chagall was able to realize his dreams in the West. There are the many that hope, long for and are willing to fight for those same realizations within their home-land. There is no reason that they shouldn’t. Some rights are inalienable but there are those that disagree and fight for the opposite. For those who believe in something better than oppression we give our support in every way we can. The works and life of Chagall are proof of the realization of freedom and the fulfillment of dreams. We celebrate Chagall, those like him and hope for their present and future. We hope for their best and better days.