Saturday, July 11, 2009

White Crucifixion

Title: White Crucifixion

Artist: Marc Chagall

Medium: Oil on canvas

Size: 154.3 x 139.7 cm

Date: 1938

Location: The Art Institute of Chicago

“The White Crucifixion” abounds in rich, intriguing detail. Some interpretations suggest that the painting is a denunciation of the Stalin regime, Nazi persecution, and all oppression of Jews. The “White Crucifixion” is a dreadful scene that may have echoed what Chagall saw in the world at the time of this painting. At the sides violent acts against Jews occur such as the burning of a synagogue and attackers. And in the center, symbolic of all those who are persecuted, Jesus is shown crucified wearing a prayer shawl as a symbol of his Jewish identity.

Chagall had a complex relationship with Judaism. Although he credited his Russian Jewish cultural background as being crucial to his artistic imagination, he proclaimed ambivalence about his religion. As an adult, he was not a practicing Jew, but through his paintings and stained glass, he continually tried to suggest a more "universal message," using both Jewish and Christian themes.

Marc Chagall (7 July 1887 – 28 March 1985), was born in Belarus (then Russian Empire) and naturalized French in 1937. He is associated with several key art movements and was one of the most successful artists of the twentieth century. He forged a unique career in virtually every artistic medium, including paintings, book illustrations, stained glass, stage sets, ceramics, tapestries and fine art prints.

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