Glencairn Museum News | Number 4, 2015
Marc Chagall and the Bible will be on view at Glencairn Museum through Sunday, October 4, 2015. Marc Chagall (1887–1985) has been called the quintessential Jewish artist of the 20th century, and one of the foremost visual interpreters of the Bible. He was born in Vitebsk, Belarus, into a traditional Hasidic Jewish family. According to the artist, “Since my early youth I have been fascinated by the Bible. It has always seemed to me and it seems to me still that it is the greatest source of poetry of all time. Since then I have sought this reflection in life and in art. The Bible is like an echo of nature and this secret I have tried to transmit.”
The works of art in this exhibition are on loan from Sandra and Bob Bowden. Sandra, a collector of religious art, is also an artist herself. Many of the artists whose works she collects—including Georges Rouault, Otto Dix, Sadao Watanabe, and Rudolph Bostic—have attempted to translate biblical themes into visual images. Sandra reflects, “Since I had studied Hebrew and the Old Testament it seems natural that I would be interested in the work of Marc Chagall. He sees the biblical narrative from a totally new perspective . . . through the eyes of a Russian Jew and with deep spiritual insight. His etchings are so intricate and his color lithographs gleam with rich color. This collection has been gathered over the last twenty years and will probably continue into the future. It is my hope that this show will bring delight to all who see it, but also provide a way for Jews and Christians to engage in a dialogue.”
Chagall’s La Bible (1932–39, 1952–56) was an enormous project that spanned more than two decades. The exhibition at Glencairn includes eight of the 105 etchings from this series. The 1956 and 1960 suites of Chagall’s colorful Bible lithographs, among his most beloved works, were printed by Fernand Mourlot and published in Paris by Tériade for special editions of Verve magazine. Thirty-two lithographs from Verve are included in the exhibition. A Chagall self portrait and a 1959 lithograph (Mystical Crucifixion) are also featured in Marc Chagall and the Bible. A selection of lithographs and etchings in the exhibition follows below.