Marc Chagall (1887–1985) is perhaps the foremost visual interpreter of the Bible in the 20th Century. Born to a humble Jewish family in the ghetto of Vitebsk, Russia he was steeped in Hasidic culture. With the encouragement of his mother he studied art, leaving for Paris in 1910 where he met many important artists of the early 20th century and developed his own artistic style. But he never abandoned either the love of his Jewish traditions nor of the Bible.
With wit and joy he has given us the stories that we know so well from the Old Testament. His art is filled with his own reoccurring symbols of visual memory and imagination. He said he did not see the Bible, but he dreamed it, even as a child.
Marc Chagall’s Bible (1932-39, 1952–56) was an enormous project that spanned twenty-five years. Chagall’s vision of the Old Testament combines his Jewish culture and modern art giving us a rich display of symbol and imagination. Some pieces extract the spirit of the text and others use his poetic vision to express his insight into the beloved Book. This exhibition contains ten of the 105 etchings that constitute this suite of work, originally intended to be the illustrations for an Old Testament Bible commissioned by the noted art dealer and publisher Ambroise Vollard. To embark upon this project Chagall went to Israel, the land of his ancestors where he wrote, “In the East I found the Bible and part of my own being”
The 1956 and1960 suites of Bible lithographs are some of Chagall’s most beloved works, seventeen of which are included in this show. These lithographs were printed by Mourlot and published in Paris by Tériade for Verve in 1956 and1960 as a special editions devoted exclusively to Chagall's original Bible lithographs. Each is a delightful and colorful interpretation that lets the viewer enter the worlds of the Bible and Chagall.