Marc Chagall, The Dream, 1939. Gouache on paper, 20 9/16 x 26 3/4 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1942
This month’s #Phillips95 challenge celebrates Marc Chagall. Chagall was known for his highly expressionist and colorful paintings that combined elements of Cubism, Symbolism, and Fauvism. He saw his work as “not the dream of one people but of all humanity.” While scholars have written endless volumes on him, we’re looking to you to simplify things!
YOUR CHALLENGE: When you look at The Dream, what is the one word that comes to mind? Comment on this blog post or any of our social media posts with one word you think best encapsulates the painting and be entered into a drawing to win a Phillips prize pack (including two tickets to the museum and goodies from the museum shop!).
Marc Chagall, Jew in Red, 1914. Oil on cardboard laid down on canvas, 39 3/4 x 31 7/8 in. Im Obersteg Foundation, permanent loan to the Kunstmuseum Basel © 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Marc Chagall’s three monumental portraits from 1914, Jew in Red, Jew in Black and White, and Jew in Green, are on view in Gauguin to Picasso: Masterworks from Switzerland. Read more about Jew in Black and White here, and Jew in Green here.
Chagall’s Jew in Red is a bearded man holding a cane and a bag of belongings. He has been interpreted as Ahasver, the eternal Wandering Jew, or perhaps even Chagall, the displaced artist—a foreigner in his homeland. On the white curtain at left, in Hebrew, Latin, and Cyrillic, are names of artists that Chagall admired in Paris: Paul Cézanne, Gustave Courbet, Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, El Greco, Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Jean Fouquet, Vincent van Gogh, Cimabue, Giotto, and Tintoretto.
Marc Chagall, Jew in Green, 1914. Oil on cardboard laid down on fiberboard, 39 1/2 x 32 in. Im Obersteg Foundation, permanent loan to the Kunstmuseum Basel © 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Marc Chagall’s three monumental portraits from 1914, Jew in Red, Jew in Black and White, and Jew in Green, are on view in Gauguin to Picasso: Masterworks from Switzerland. Read more about Jew in Black and White here.
I start from the initial shock of something actual and spiritual, from some definite thing, and then go on toward something more abstract.—Chagall
The model for Jew in Green, a rabbi who introduced himself as the Preacher of Slouzk, left a profound effect on Chagall. He explained, “I had the impression that the old man was green; perhaps a shadow fell on him from my heart.” Chagall depicted him impoverished and in despair, with one eye open, the other closed, and his hands painted in different colors. Behind him are religious texts he recited daily in Hebrew, including the Kaddish, a prayer praising God: “He Who makes peace in His heights, may He make peace for us and for all Israel.” In 1936, Karl Im Obersteg acquired Jew in Green from Chagall by trading it for another picture by the artist.