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during the exhibition in french exhibitiontarifChagall et la Bible

2 March – 5 June 2011

Marc Chagall. Les Pâques, 1968

Marc Chagall, Les Pâques, 1968.
Paris, Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne / Centre de création industrielle,
en dépôt au Musée national Marc Chagall, Nice
© ADAGP, Paris, 2011 – Chagall
© Graphisme : Doc Levin / Bérangère Perron

From 2 March to 5 June 2011, the Paris Museum of Jewish Art and History (MAHJ) presents Chagall and the Bible, an exhibition made possible thanks to an exceptional partnership with the Marc Chagall National Museum in Nice.

For more than a quarter of a century, from 1930 to 1956, Marc Chagall dedicated himself to the task of illustrating the Hebrew Bible. The MAHJ exhibition reflects the long creative process of this work, from the magnificent set of gouaches painted by the artist, through the various stages of engraving where the motif becomes clearer, and right up to the 105 final engravings embossed by hand. The special set dedicated to his wife is shown here for the first time. In addition, paintings and works on paper highlight the visual forms of the Bible text as revealed by the painter’s brush.

In 1930, Chagall began to illustrate the Hebrew Bible at the request of art merchant and publisher Ambroise Vollard. The work was interrupted by Vollard’s death in 1939, and then by the artist’s exile to the United States during the Second World War. Chagall only took it up again several years after his return to France, in 1948, and it was finally published in 1956 as a set of 105 engraved plates. This adventure had a remarkable sequel in the artist’s work, particularly in the form of the monumental paintings The Bible Message, completed in 1966.

Opening Hours
during the exhibition
Chagall et la Bible:
Sunday to Friday: 10.00−18.00
(Last ticket sales at 17.15)

Wednesday: 10.00−21.00
(Last ticket sales at 20.15)

Closed Saturday

His work draws on the Bible teaching he received during his childhood, memories from his youth spent in Vitebsk, his life in the shtetl and his reading of the Yiddish translation of the Bible by Yehoyesh, a poet of his generation. In 1931, Chagall made his first trip to Palestine. This changed him dramatically and had repercussions on his work and, first and foremost, on his vision of the world of the Bible. The exhibition highlights the role of Hebrew Bible in Chagall’s imagination. The Torah is the only treasure of the Jewish people, the one they have always sought to preserve during the turmoil of pogroms and persecution.
Chagall’s approach is exceptional on more than one score. He is the only painter of his stature to have looked closely at the Bible, whereas all the other Jewish artists of the 20th century rejected the motifs of the traditional Jewish world into which they had been born. He was figurative and narrative, while his contemporaries were trying out new abstract forms. In Gogol’s Dead Souls and Jean de la Fontaine’s Fables, he shows his plasticity, his freedom of interpretation, and his immense talent as an illustrator. He builds multiple meanings into his images and creates gripping shortcuts between the Bible narrative and history. The artist becomes a new interpreter of the Bible.
The works presented here cast light on the absolute freedom with which the painter approaches, weaves and intersects Jewish and Christian readings. Chagall gives birth to the figure of a Jewish Jesus and, in responding to orders from churches, imposes the message of the Hebrew Bible. The artist considers himself to be a prophet, a seer, a painting angel.

Two panel sessions, workshops for children and guided visits will also be held during the exhibition.

A 200 page catalogue has been published jointly with Skira/Flammarion.


Musee-nationaux-Marc-Chagall-Nice.jpgThis exhibition was realized with the exceptionnal partnership of the Musée national Marc Chagall, Nice.

The exhibition has received support from the following institutions and organizations:
fleche Fondation Pro-MAHJ
fleche Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah
fleche Rothschild Foundation Europe
fleche Harevim Fund
fleche Greater Paris Cultural Affairs Department – Ministry of Culture and Communication
and the generosity of patrons who have wished to remain anonymous.

Fondation Pro-MAHJ      Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah

In partnership with:
fleche Le Monde de la Bible
fleche L’Arche
fleche Le Nouvel Observateur
fleche Médiatransports
fleche France Inter


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