At Home and Abroad


Whitfield Lovell, At Home and Abroad, 2008. Charcoal on wood and found objects, 65 x 45 x 3 1/2 in. Purchased in honor of the 100th Anniversary of the Muskegon Museum of Art through the Art Acquisition Fund, the 100th Anniversary Art Acquisition Fund, the support of the Alcoa Foundation, and the gift of Dr. Anita Herald. © Whitfield Lovell and DC Moore Gallery, New York

Whitfield Lovell‘s At Home and Abroad depicts three anonymous figures dressed in World War I-era US Army double-breasted wool greatcoats. The red, white, and blue target on the chest of the seated man is a recurring motif in Lovell’s work, as seen in Kin IV (One Last Thrill).

The deceptively simple form of the target in both works portends a harsher reality, one which Lovell has personally experienced (Lovell suffered the loss of his grandfather Eugene Glover, who was killed in a mugging in 1984): “Every target, every bulls-eye . . . holds a personal resonance for me . . . I am rarely thinking of, or reliving those losses . . . but rather using these as symbols for the losses of everyone, the violence we perpetrate upon our fellow human beings, be it physical or verbal, political or psychological. We are always, as a society, throwing darts, aiming bombs and missiles at one another and using people as target practice.”

The target, when paired with the image of these three dignified WWI African American soldiers, becomes charged with racial implications. While joining the patriots to defend freedom abroad, black soldiers were denied human rights in a segregated society at home.

Whitfield Lovell: The Kin Series and Related Works is on view through Jan. 8, 2017.

Marc Chagall’s Powerful Portraits: Part 1

Chagalll_Jew in White

Marc Chagall, Jew in Black and White, 1914. Oil on cardboard laid down on canvas, 39 3/4 x 31 1/2 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

Born and raised by an observant Jewish family near Vitebsk, Russia (now Belarus), Marc Chagall began his artistic training in St. Petersburg, then traveled to Paris, where he met artists who introduced him to Fauvism, Cubism, and other modern art movements. Chagall blended these trends with Russian and Jewish imagery and fantastical symbols drawn from childhood memories. During what was meant to be a short trip to visit family in 1914, the outbreak of World War I forced Chagall to remain in Russia. In Vitebsk, he painted portraits of beggars and itinerant Hasidic rabbis who were invited into his family’s home. Chagall described the sitter in Jew in Black and White as a beggar with “gray hair, sullen expression, a sack on his back.”

Chagall dressed him as a rabbi, placing his father’s tallit (prayer shawl) over the man’s shoulders and wrapping tefillins (used during morning prayer) around his head and left arm. His right hand holds the tzitzit (tassel of the prayer shawl). Jew in Black and White and Jew in Red were exhibited in Chagall’s 1933 retrospective at the Kunsthalle Basel, which collector Karl Im Obersteg, through his association with the artist, helped to organize. This painting is the first of two later versions in separate collections.