25 Paintings of Marc Chagall and Christ
1. “Descent from the Cross 1941″.
Another crucifixion from the war years.
* Chagall wrote a poem about this and other paintings where he
painted himself as a crucified Jesus.
* He is dealing with the guilt of being safe in the USA while
his brothers and sisters suffer.
* Here Marc Chagall identified himself with the crucified Christ.
* The INRI acronym is replaced with Marc Ch.
* A man with a chicken head helps Marc Chagall down —
the chicken head symbolizes
Yom Kippur that Marc Chagall will be forgiven.
* An angel flies in from right and hands the artist a paint palette and
brush — symbolizes a resurrection.
ink and gouache on paper, 19 1/2 x 12 7/8 in.
The Collection of the Rastegar Family, California.
© 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.
For use with RNS-CHAGALL-PAINT, transmitted on January 16, 2014,
Photo courtesy of The Jewish Museum.
2. 1944, The Crucified.
Like the Psalmist using words to pray for God’s protection and forgiveness,
Marc Chagall one of the most famous modern artists and a Russian Jew used
his art to pray to God for protection and forgiveness.
Like Paul in Romans 8, Chagall asks—through his art and poetry —
if God has abandoned the Jews.
This is Marc Chagall’s Vitebsk a pen and ink on paper show the Pale of Settlement
or territory on the outskirts of Vitebsk, within the border of Tsarist Russia
where Jews like Chagall were forced to live.
gouache and watercolor
3. Marc Chagall The White Crucifixion
It is emphatically Marc Chagall who painted with his heart on his sleeve.
Charles Marq, who worked in stained glass for Chagall, wrote:
“Chagall had that very sentimental streak; he was a simple man, very simple.
There again, there is always the inner world and the outer world.
He was so simple, I often saw him cry while he was working.
He was extremely demanding and so was I.
He used to say, “Let’s go, no fooling around.”
He was a very good man too, but he couldn’t
accept people talking about art
in a way that didn’t match his idea and his vision.
Then he could be really hard-nosed.”
Completion Date: 1975
Place of Creation: Saint-paul-de-vence France
Style: Naive Art (Primitivism)
Genre: symbolic painting
Dimensions: 130 x 81 cm
Gallery: Private Collection
4. Marc Chagall, Christ in the Night, 1948.
pencil, gouache, and pastel on paper,
23 1/4 x 17 in.
Collection of the Borges Torrealba family,
Rio de Janeiro.
© 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.
Photo courtesy of The Jewish Museum
5. “Exodus,” 1966 by Marc Chagall.
Marc Chagall believed that he could show the Christian community that
the persecution of the Jews in the Holocaust was like the persecution
the Jewish Jesus on the cross.
“For me, Christ has always symbolized the true type of the Jewish martyr.
That is how I understood him in 1908 when I used this figure for the first time,”
Marc Chagall said.
6. Marc Chagall, Persecution, 1941.
pastel, gouache and watercolor on paper.
Starting with a line drawing of the Crucifixion he made in 1908
while studying art in St. Petersburg, Chagall depicted
Christ on the cross dozens of times.
Some Chagall Christs resemble the Eastern Orthodox icons
the artist knew from his childhood in Russia.
Others don’t look like the Christ in churches anywhere:
they were Jewish prayer shawls in place of a loincloth,
and sometimes Tefillin, the leather boxes Jews strap to their foreheads and arms.
7. Christ crucified and resurrected at Fraumünster Zürich In the 1970s,
Belarussian-born Marc Chagall created a five-part stained-glass window series
and a rosette for the chancel of the Fraumünster church in Zurich.
This world-famous masterpiece by Chagall still impresses visitors from around the world today.
Marc Chagall remained true to his motto “When I create something from my heart,
almost everything goes well” throughout his whole life.
He created the windows at a very advanced age and he enjoyed excellent health
right up to his death in 1985, just before his 98th birthday.
8. Marc Chagall, Apocalypse en Lilas:
In response to the devastation brought by the Holocaust; its imagery consists
of a crucified Jesus Christ screaming at a Nazi storm trooper while other acts of violence –
another crucifixion, a man being hanged and an adult male stabbing a child –
can be seen in the background while an inverted clock falls out of the sky.
Chagall kept the painting in his personal collection.
It was initially sold by the artist’s son in 1985 to a private collector in France.
In October 2009, it was purchased by the Ben Uri Gallery for US $43,000,
despite estimates after the historical context correctly understood and researched
by Ben Uri was released and recognised by the international community
that it could be worth more than $1.5 million, and was publicly displayed
for the first time in January 2010.
gouache, pencil Apocalypse in Lilac,
Capriccio is a 1945 gouache painting by the Russian-born artist Marc Chagall.
The 20-inch by 14-inch work was created by Chagall
9. Transfiguration Exodus, Marc Chagall
During the war years, the Crucifixion became a focus of Chagall’s work.
Standing before them, the viewer encounters a Jesus
whose Jewishness is more than merely notional.
Chagall places that fact at the center of these works.
Yet the actual image of a Jewish Jesus hanging on a Cross still gives pause
to both Jews and Christians.
Marc Chagall, the Russian-born son of a Hasidic family,
painted many such images—
many more than most have ever seen.
For example, only Luke tells us what Jesus, Moses
and Elijah were discussing.
They were speaking of his “departure” (exodus?)
what he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.
This and other discrepancies show that Luke
is drawing from another source.
I’m not so sure, but the reference connecting
Moses and the crucifixion is stunning.
Jesus’ transfiguration matches the transfiguration
of Moses’ face on the mountain.
Marc Chagall meditate on this painting which has
Christ crucified over Moses and
those fleeing in the Exodus.
Chagall, the most successful artist of the 20th century,
uses the crucifixion as a symbol of Jewish suffering and persecution.
Some say Chagall was the only Jewish artist of his generation to engage
another religious tradition without betraying his own.
He forged a universal message.
As I reflect on the relationship between Jews and Christians,
it is hard to not despair.
We should have been the closest of brothers and sisters,
but instead there was enmity and persecution.
That the church of the persecuted, crucified Christ could have become
the persecutor and crucified is a great sadness.
The bloody history is too much to bear.
It will take generations of goodwill to restore the
relationship between Jews and Christians.
The connection of the Exodus and the Crucifixion
lies in the themes of deliverance,
salvation, redemption and new life.
Back in the story, a cloud overshadows them all on the mountain,
reminiscent of the cloud that went before the Israelites in the Exodus.
The cloud that covered the Tabernacle in Exodus 40,
when the glory of The Lord filled the Tabernacle,
hence the disciples’ suggestion that booths be built.
The glory of The Lord is present on the mountain.
Luke is a Gentile, but he knows his Bible.
The crucifixion is for Luke the fulfillment of the Law and Prophets.
No wonder Peter, James and John want to stay up on the mountain.
Can you blame them?
They’re safe on the mountain top, basking in the glory of God.
Who wants to descend the mountain and deal with the poor,
the blind and the oppressed captives for whom Jesus claimed
to be sent in his hometown speech (Luke 4)?
10. The Blue Bride
La Mariee en Bleu.
Marc Chagall (1887-1985).
Gouache on paper.
Dated 1955-7. 65.5 x 50cm Credit: Christie’s Images Ltd. / Christie’s Images Ltd.
Image availability not guaranteed until image has been licensed.
11. The Artist with Yellow Christ, 1938
However, few are aware of his artistic responses to suffering—
both personal and universal—
especially during the rise of Nazism and the Second World War.
Looking at the paintings, one thing is clear right away.
The paintings have little to do with Jesus
as we usually see him — the central figure in the Christian Passion narrative.
Chagall’s Jesus is a Jewish Jesus through and through.
In many of the Crucifixion scenes (like The Artist with Yellow
Christ, 1938 and Persecution, c. 1941)
Jesus’ nether parts are covered with a tallit, a Jewish prayer shawl.
In Study for The Yellow Crucifixion (1942),
Jesus is wearing tefillin, little black boxes containing verses from the Torah
that are wrapped around the head and arm,
with black straps going down to the hand.
The meaning of Chagall’s Crucifixion paintings,
in their historical context, is thus pretty clear.
From the time of the Nazi rise to power in the 1930s,
through the end of WWII, Chagall was preoccupied
with the fate of European Jews.
He saw Jesus on the Cross as a universally
recognizable symbol of human suffering.
Marc Chagall hoped that Jews and non-Jews
alike would be able to relate to this symbol.
By making Jesus unmistakably Jewish,
he was highlighting the fact that the Romans crucified Jesus as a Jew.
In the midst of the Holocaust, Chagall wanted to make the universality of
Jesus’ crucifixion specific again, he wanted the world to look at Jewish suffering.
Is there any more contentful image in the history of Western
art than that of Jesus on the Cross?
I don’t think so.
The Crucifixion is almost pure meaning, pure content, pure symbol.
Centuries of artistic practice have made it so.
One only need scratch a cross onto a surface and a story jumps into play,
a story that has ethical, spiritual, and civilizational implications.
It doesn’t matter what one’s specific religious beliefs may be.
The crucifix is a shared symbol filled with meaning.
The symbol of Jesus on the Cross is so potent that it was irresistible to Chagall.
None of the crucifixion scenes Marc Chagall painted in the 1940’s
show Jesus in his historical time.
Again, they aren’t about the historical and religious Jesus.
In some of these paintings, Jesus hangs on the Cross and
the Cross is planted in a place we can recognize.
Jesus is in Marc Chagall’s village, that mythologized version of Vitebsk that
Chagall worked into his paintings hundreds, thousands of times.
Putting Jesus into the village must have felt something like a talisman for Chagall.
He was putting two great symbols together to increase their power.
The first symbol, the village, was his own. The second symbol,
Jesus on the Cross, was handed down to him through the history of art. Painting,
Chagall was saying. Can still do this.
12. The Artist with the Yellow Christ,’ wearing a tallit loincloth.
In “The Yellow Crucifixion,” Jesus wears the phylacteries or tefillin donned
by Orthdox Jews for their morning prayers.
The off-center figure of the crucified Jesus shares the central space of the picture
with a large depiction of a Torah scroll.
In the lower part of the picture, burning buildings and figures in postures of agony
represent the Jewish victims of the Holocaust in Chagall’s native eastern Europe.
Marc Chagall’s crucifixion paintings probably inspired
the plot of Chaim Potok‘s popular novel,
My Name is Asher Lev (1972), in which the principal
character is a young Jewish artist
grappling with the fact that the western artistic tradition is
so heavily influenced by Christian imagery
and that the crucifixion image is a uniquely powerful way
of expressing human suffering.
“The symbolic figure of Christ was always very near to me,
and I was determined to bring it out
of my young heart. I wanted to show Christ as an innocent child,” Chagall wrote.
At age 25, he painted a cubist Calvary (also called Dedicated
to Christ, from 1912) depicting the crucifixion –
but the figures standing at the base of the cross are his parents.
“When I painted Christ’s parents I was thinking of my own parents…
“The bearded man is the child’s father.
The Artist with the Yellow Christ (1948), a self-portrait of Marc Chagall with his palette,
in which he turns away from the scene he is painting:
A yellow Jesus hangs on the cross wearing a black-and-white tallit loincloth,
as an old hunch-backed man walks by using a cane.
This is one of Chagall’s tamer depictions of the martyr;
the next ones no longer express ambivalence.
“For me, Christ has always symbolized the true type of the Jewish martyr.
That is how I understood him in 1908 when I used this figure for the first time…
It was under the influence of the pogroms,” Marc Chagall wrote,
according to art historian Ziva Amichai-Maisels
in “Depiction and Interpretation:
The Influence of the Holocaust on the Visual Arts” (Pergamon Press, 1993).
“Then I painted and drew him in pictures about ghettos,
surrounded by Jewish troubles,
by Jewish mothers, running terrified with little children in their arms.”
13. In Front of the Picture (1968-71).
This painting depicts the Crucifixion as a painting within a painting,
a strategy Chagall employed increasingly in his later years.
The artist appears in these paintings, too. Marc Chagall,
The Soul of the City, 1945, oil on canvas.
14. Mystical Crucifixion 1950
Pope Francis also reiterated a statement made last June, saying “a Christian
cannot be an anti-Semite,” and adding that “to be a good Christian
it is necessary to understand Jewish history and traditions.”
Marc Chagall’s life’s work exudes both freshness and mysticism.
Perhaps most striking is the humanity of Chagall’s paintings.
He refused the Paris avant-garde’s invitation to create art for art’s sake.
Instead, he turned to allegories to communicate
both his Russian Jewish culture
and his emotions.
He wanted to reach out, to touch, to share.
It was evidence of his generosity of spirit,
but it also made him something of a loner.
In the 1930’s, as Nazi persecution of Jews mounted,
Marc Chagall turned again to the Crucifixion to express his anxiety,
using Jesus as a metaphor for the Jews.
In ”White Crucifixion” (1938), Jesus’ nakedness is hidden
only by a Jewish prayer shawl,
while a menorah burns at his feet.
And all around the central figure,
there are scenes of fleeing refugees, a burning village
and a synagogue in flames.
When Germany occupied France in 1940,
Chagall fled south and eventually made his way to New York.
Jewish themes returned to his work, as in ‘‘The Lights of Marriage,’‘
in which a newly married couple stroll across the main square of Vitebsk.
In his references to the war,
he kept using the figure of Christ crucified to symbolize Jewish suffering.
Jean-Louis Prat, the director of the Fondation Maeght in St.-Paul-de-Vence,
writes in a catalog essay,
”Marc Chagall gave this nihilist century a worthy concept: hope.”
15. Le Christ en Yellow is one of the works in this cycle.
In the mid of the creation of this cycle World War II broke,
and Marc Chagall reflected
the tragedy of the war and the catastrophe of the fate
of the Jewish people caught
in the flames of the Holocaust with another cycle of
paintings this time, that relate the Bible
characters including Jesus to the tragedies of his present.
“La Christ en Jaune” is one of the works in this cycle, a version of
which you can see at the art museum in Zurich –
with a Christ crucified as the eternal suffering Jew in the mid
of a pogrom of the kind
Marc Chagall witnessed during his childhood in Vitebsk and
was then again a reality in Europe.
16. Christ in the Clock (Marc Chagall 1960).
Original color lithograph, 1957.
90 signed and numbered impressions plus 6000 unsigned impressions
(of which this is one) published in a Jacques Laissaigne’s Chagall (Paris, 1957).
Unfortunately, there are forgeries of the signed and number impressions,
The image seems to portray the people of Israel
waiting for the coming of the Messiah.
Image size: 240x210mm.
17. The crucifixion
Marc Chagall tries to unify The Christians and Jewish people
in their similarities with his inclusion of the crucifixion.
More often than not, the crucifixion is used in a religious sense.
Using Christ in a religious sense would be very
contradictory to Chagall’s own religion
– so why does he include the crucifixion so frequently?
One interpretation is that Chagall tries to unify the Christian and
Jewish people in their similarities
– the old testament.
Another is that the figure on the cross isn’t Christ,
but the artist himself.
Often enough, the image of the cross is accompanied
by the rooster and the fish
– symbols for masculinity and fertility, but possibly
symbols for Marc Chagall himself.
18. Christ, the Virgin and the Child
Le Christ, la Vierge et l’Enfant), painting by Marc Chagall,
part of a private collection, Lucern, 26/10/1993,
Alinari Archives, Florence
19. Easter 1968 a painting by Marc Chagall
The first edition of his Bible, with Marc Chagall’s black
and white engravings,
consisted of 275 copies. Marc Chagall then hand-colored
a second edition of 100 copies.
The museum’s curator, Laurence Sigal, says the coloring
was done “very fast and very lightly.”
But the copy of that second edition that went to Vava
was the exception, she states, “
outstanding because of the time he devoted to it.”
20. Calvary/Golgotha, Deposition of Jesus Christ
Artist: Marc Chagall
Completion Date: 1970
Place of Creation: Saint-paul-de-vence, France
Style: Naïve Art (Primitivism)
Genre: religious painting
Dimensions: 75 x 59 cm
Gallery: Musée national Message Biblique Marc Chagall, Nice, France
21. Cathédrale of Reims
The central window evokes the two great figures
of the Old and New Testaments,
Abraham, and Christ. Key moments in the life
of Abraham gathered there,
his covenant with Yahweh, his filiation with the crucified Christ
who accomplishes the work of salvation.
We perceive the tomb alive leaving in the red of glory.
22. Sacrifice of Isaac
Marc Chagall’s “The Sacrifice of Isaac” is not the only time he has drawn
upon Jesus in order to provide commentary
on a key story of the Hebrew Bible.
This painting demonstrates that despite the crucified Jesus being
the archetypal icon of the Christian faith,
Chagall utilizes him for his own art and
deliberately depicts him as an observant Jew.
He does this here by adding a scene of Jesus
carrying the cross on his way to Golgotha.
Just as Isaac carried the wood to Moriah (Gen. 22:6),
this figure is Jesus bearing a cross on his way to Golgotha.
There is a similar observation about Isaac carrying the wood:
“‘And Abraham placed the wood of the burnt-offering on Isaac his son.’
Like a man who carries his cross on his shoulder”
(Genesis Rabbah 56:3).
Despite the imagery of a cross being a common sight in Western art
during the last two millennia, it can nevertheless
create quite a cultural dissonance
when used in a painting by a Jewish person.
However, while in Christian art the crucified Christ is
“typically” meant to inspire the reader
to ponder the payment for sin and the hope of
resurrection, the utilization of the cross
by Jewish painters usually connotes a message
of religious persecution and suffering.
Marc Chagall was not the only Jewish artist who
utilized the crucified Jesus in paintings,
, and Mark Rothko;
though none of these artists employed this imagery as much as Chagall.
23. Marc Chagall and Jesus
Chagall, who was raised in a Hasidic home, had his own doubts
about using Christian imagery,
at various points consulting the Lubavitcher Rebbe and Israeli
president Chaim Weizmann on the matter.
But in the end, he kept painting Jesus, attracted to
his qualities as a rebel, a martyr,
and a creative spirit.
In some paintings, the man on the cross is the artist himself.
Marc Chagall described the act of painting Jesus as “an expression of the human,
Jewish sadness and pain which Jesus personifies,” he explained. “…
Perhaps I could have painted another Jewish prophet, but after
two thousand years mankind has become attached to the figure of Jesus.”
24. Christ on the cross 1980
One of the central concerns of his work was to combine
Christianity and Judaism.
25. Marc Chagall,”Obsession,” 1943
Oil on Canvas
Upon arriving in New York City,
Marc Chagall’s works lost their naive undertones
all together and adopted a profound aura of torment.
This is due to the torment he felt by news from Europe and
the guilt and helplessness of exile.
Unlike his years in France, Chagall was never completely
comfortable in New York City.
The artist felt disconnected from the places
he understood best — Russia and Paris.
He felt uncomfortable as a celebrity in a foreign country
whose language he could not yet speak,
and was lost in his strange surroundings.
“Descent from the Cross” (1941) and “Obsession”
(1943) both express
this feeling of alienation and loss as Marc Chagall channels the crucifixion
into a personal reflection of himself as the suffering artist and
as a continued expression of shocking traditional art.
Marc Chagall did settle in though as New York
was full of writers, painters,
and composers who, like himself, had fled
Europe during the Nazi invasions.
He spent time visiting galleries and museums
and befriended other artists
In particular, he enjoyed the Lower East Side,
which had a large Jewish population,
where he would spend hours every day feeling at home.
It is always interesting to know that even though
the museum and galleries adored Marc Chagall’s art,
his contemporary artists when he arrived did not
yet understand or even like his art.
That changed, however, when Pierre Matisse,
the son of recognized French artist Henri Matisse,
became his representative upon his arrival.
More to read and see about Marc Chagall
You can download this blog of 25 paintings of Marc Chagall and Christ here with google drive
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Author: Johan Persyn Hooglede Belgium
Categories: Chagall and resurrection, Chagall Jesus Christ, A new vision on paintings of Chagall,
Chagall art culture, Chagall the cross, Chagall and suffering
Sometimes, sometimes... we get so caught up in the agenda of life that we accidentally forget to take control of paying attention to the ones we love, the food on our table, the breakdowns we have so that we can breakthrough, role models that have inspired us, the electricity that powers up our devices and home, the transportation we have access to, our ability to still be living and breathing, and all of the awesome coincidences that had to have happened in order for the "miracles" in your life to have taken place.
When we pay attention to what we are grateful for, we force ourselves to seek MORE of that which we do want!