Entries tagged with “Marc Chagall”.


Jews all over the world start celebrating tomorrow evening Simchat Torah, the last of the Jewish holidays in the autumn season. The holiday marks the end of the annual cycle of reading and learning of the Torah, and the joy of beginning a new cycle. Life is meant to be in the Jewish tradition not only a cycle of seasons but also a cycle of learning and living according to a tradition based on the Torah. I collected and I am sharing here a few exceptional images of Torah as it is reflected in art and I hope that you will like them.


source http://cw.routledge.com/textbooks/9780415440097/bookimages.asp


source http://faariscar.blogspot.co.il/2011/11/art-knowledge-news-keeping-you-in-touch_12.html


I am starting with a couple of reproductions of the Illuminated version of Maimonides’s Mishneh Torah created in Northern Italy between 1457 – 1465. This collection of Maimonide’s rulings and interpretations of the Torah was written by the great rabbi, philosopher and physician in the 12th century during his stay in Egypt. As the art of writing illuminated manuscripts was flourishing during the Middle Ages and Early Renaissance, the Jewish books were no exception, and this is one of the most beautiful examples that survived the centuries.


source http://mkerzner.blogspot.co.il/2011/04/menachot-30-writing-torah-scroll.html


Marc Chagall was one of the greatest painters of the 20th century who created many works inspired by the Torah and the life in the Jewish villages in Eastern Europe where he was born, a life all but destroyed by the storms of the 20th century and especially the Russian Revolution and the Holocaust. I had last year the chance to visit the exhibition Chagall et la Bible in Paris, at the Musee d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaisme and i wrote about it here. Above is Rabbi with a Torah.


source http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/Tag/judaism


This is one Chagall’s latest works dedicated to the subject – Man with Torah, dated 1975.


source http://judaica-art.com/judaica-artists/mane-katz/mane-katz-a-jewish-man-holding-torah-judaica-fine-art-oil-painting-reproduction/prod_368.html


From the same area of Eastern Europe as Chagall came Emmanuel Mane Katz, a painter associated with the School of Paris, who traveled to the Palestine under British Mandate and then Israel which he considered as his spiritual home. Much of his work is inspired by Jewish themes, here is ‘A Jewish Man Holding Torah’.


source http://www.minutemannewscenter.com/articles/2011/01/20/entertainment/art/doc4d371173dc021683268199.txt


Finally here is “Torah” by the American artist Norman Gorbaty, known among other for his illustration of the Sesame Street books.


source http://blog.rabbijason.com/2005/09/simchat-torah-torah-is-saved.html


I am concluding with an astonishing photograph which I found while researching for this blog entry. It represents a man carrying a Torah being saved from a synagogue in New Orleans devastated in 2005 by hurricane Catrina. A picture which – as a Facebook friend of mine wrote – symbols the essence of the holiday.

Hag Sameakh!


Paris is one of these cities that makes an art lover feel like he is in Paradise. Tens of world-class museums, hundreds of exhibitions to chose from at any moment. We tried to select during the nine days that we spent in Paris earlier in June the most interesting art events happening in the city. We decided not to rush and run through the exhibitions, but rather pick one each day and visit it at lease. Here is a rendu-compte of the most beautiful and interesting things that we have seen.


Visiting the exhibition of Manolo Valdes at Galerie Pascal Lansberg was the recommendation of our friend Marica and thanks again for the pointer. It is located not dar from the hotel where we stayed, on Rue de Seine, between boulevard St.Germain des Pres si Sena, a street with tens of art galleries, with many interesting things mixed with high-class expensive but not necessarily valuable art, waiting for the rich buyers to drop by.


Botero como pretexto


Spanish-born and living in New York, Valdes is a successful sculptor and painter with an interesting style. I was mostly impressed by his sculptures which combine monumental with a dose of irony.


We visited a few more galleries on the same street. One name that especially drew our attention was Etienne Hajdu, who had a collection of his sculptures exposed at the Vallois gallery.


Etienne Hajdu - La Parisienne, 1947


Here is another artist I know too little about. Born in Turda in 1907 in a Jewish family he must have considered himself as belonging to the Hungarian culture, as were most of the Jews in Transylvania before the first world war (including my grandparents on my mother side). He emigrated and settled in Paris where he lived for most of his life. He fought in the Resistance during the second world war. His bronze and marble sculpture in the exhibition were the proof of a sophisticated artist, who knew and absorbed the major trends of the 20th century sculpture and created works full of refinement, at the border between figurative and abstract, and with a radiant sense of beauty.


entrance at the Petit Palais


The next morning we went to the Petit Palais to visit the retrospective of Jean-Louis Forrain which was closing that weekend. The two palaces built on what is named today Avenue Winston Churchill on the occasion of the universal exhibition in Paris at the beginning of the 20th century host nowadays many of the major art exhibitions in the capital of France.


Dans les coulisses - source http://www.petitpalais.paris.fr/fr/expositions/jean-louis-forain-1852-1931


Jean-Louis Forrain was a contemporary of the great Impressionist artists and he exposed together with them. Influenced by Degas and Honore Daumier he started by borrowing some of the subjects of the first (like the dancers portraits) and the style of the second to become the most prolific and influential caricaturist of the end of the 19th and start of the 20th century. The retrospective at the Petit Palais combined caricatures, drawings and paintings inspired from his sharp observation of the life of the Parisian higher and lower classes, the atmosphere of the opera theaters, cabarets, tribunals and brothels. Forrain was an anti-Dreyfussist in the big case that split the French society in the last decade of the 19th century and a few of his drawings had an anti-Semitic tent. He enrolled his art in the patriotic effort of the French in the First World War and painted religious subjects and nudes in the final years of his life. He was admired and appreciated by big artists among which Toulouse-Lautrec. The exhibition was comprehensive and respectful, well documented with an excellend audi-guide.


The next day we went to visit another exhibition that was closing that day at the Musee d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaisme on rue du Temple in the Marais area, one of the former densely Jewish populated districts of Paris. The building itself Hotel de Saint-Aignant dates from the years 1645-1650 built by Pierre Le Muet, famous architect of the 17th century. It underwent many transformation and renovations in time. In the interior court we were welcome by the statue of Dreyfus.


source http://www.mahj.org/en/3_expositions/expo-Chagall-et-la-Bible.php?niv=2&ssniv=5


The exhibition that we came to see was ‘Chagall et la Bible’ – a collection of prints and paintings related to one of the major themes of the creation of the artist. The Web page of the exhibition is available here.


source http://www.jewishmuseummilwaukee.org/programs-resources/exhibitions/index.php


At the core of the exhibition were the 105 illustration of the Bible that Chagall created between 1930 and 1948, and edition originally ordered by the art merchant and editor Ambroise Vollard. The Old Testament stories and characters, the people of Israel and God himself are the heroes of the stories that Chagall approached with respect and love making them the reality of the spiritual origins of the Jewish people and of the whole civilization.


source http://www.artfinding.com/Artwork/Paintings/Marc-Chagall/Le-Christ-en-jaune/7340.html


In the mid of the creation of this cycle World War II broke, and Chagall reflected the tragedy of the war and the catastrophe of the fate of the Jewish people caught in the flames of the Holocaust with another cycle of paintings this time, that relate the Bible characters including Jesus to the tragedies of his present. La Christ en jaune is one of the works in this cycle, a version of which I had seen a few years ago at the art museum in Zurich – with a Christ crucified as the eternal suffering Jew in the mid of a pogrom of the kind Chagall witnessed during his childhood in Vitebsk, and was then again a reality in Europe. Chagall later continued his Bible inspiration with works in glass – some of them in churches, other in public buildings, and I have written about these a few times in this blog as well.


The majority of the Parisian museums are closed on Monday. Grand Palais is one of the exceptions, so we chose to visit the exhibitions there on Monday.


(video source AFP)


We started with Anish Kapoor’s Leviathan in the Monumenta cycle, which brings artists that use and report themselves to the huge space in the Grand Palais. Richard Serra was here in 2008, now it’s Kapoor’s turn. I had read and watched on TV a lot about the show, including segments at ARTE and an interview with Kapoor. One of the things I was ignoring is that his mother is Jewish and he spent some time in a kibbutz in Israel in the 70s.



Leviathan crushes the viewer and changes his perception about space and dimensions. You start the tour in the interior which vaguely lets the light and shades penetrate from the outer universe and continue in the contained space which is huge in reality but seems to become insufficient for the creature and creation invented by the artist. Man is reduced to humble proportions relative to art and his own creation.


(video source mangott)


The next exhibition we visited that day brings together the French writer Aimee Cesaire and the painters Wifredo Lam and Pablo Picasso. Cesaire and Lam were good friends having met during the war when Lam who fought on the Republican side in the Civil War in Spain was fleeing Europe. The meeting with the Cuban artist was another discovery for me. The short film above is not from the exhibition but brings up a few of Lam’s works – an artist whose style is close indeed to Picasso, but with Picasso at his best.



(video source RdmnTV)


I owe to Marica again the push to visit the retrospective dedicated to Odilon Redon. I knew the artist mostly from his late works full of color which I wrongly associated (maybe because of the period, maybe because of the palette) to the neo-raphaelites. I was missing a full first part of his career when he created mostly drawings, some inspired by books and mythology – a dark and fantastic word which was waiting for me to explore. Here is a good introduction in Odilon Redon – Prince of Dreams- excellent film presented by Rodolphe Rapetti the curator of the exhibition.



I owe the visit at the Pinacotheque de Paris to another friend of mine – Teddy, so thanks! Located in the heart of Paris, behind the Madeleine church it is one of the newest museums in Paris. The name behind the idea is Marc Restellini and his conception about how a museum with a permanent collection and temporary events is to be organized proves good taste and courage.

(video source elisabethitti)

The clip abut speaks about the Romanov exhibition which together with the Esterhazy collection brought up to the lovers in Paris the history and some of the important works of two of the national collections best known in the East of Europe.


I confess however that I was not enthusiastic about the two exhibitions – I mean they were OK, good information, art that is representative but no exceptional works. I have seen much of the Esterhazy collection at the Fine Arts museum in Budapest, but I have never been in the Hermitage, and I probably need to get there for the real thing. The permanent collection is however fabulous, and I recommend warmly a visit for any art lover in Paris. Restellini renounced the usual chronological or school-based presentation for a grouping of the paintings according to themes and if you add these to the fine selection you get one of the most interesting and strikingly beautiful collections of art I have seen lately.


Découvrez Le voyage imaginaire d’Hugo Pratt à la Pinacothèque de Paris sur Culturebox !

(source http://culturebox.france3.fr/)


The last exhibition at the Pinacotheque was dedicated to Hugo Pratt – author of drawings of what the French call bandes dessinees. Both Liliana and me were subscribed as kids to Vaillant - the cartoon magazine that developed our imagination and taught us French in the process. Pratt has an interesting biography of himself (with some Jewish ascendance as well) and his best known hero Corto Maltese started in Vaillant. The exhibition catches the creative process of creating the hero, the stories and the drawings and asks the questions about the blurred relations between art and popular entertainment.


We could not miss the Manet exhibition at Musee d’Orsay even if we are not huge fans of Manet.


(video source telegraphtv)


Seeing such a retrospective certainly helps understanding the work of the artist in the context of his time, and discover lesser known parts of his creation. This was the case here and we got exactly what we expected.



The last exhibition I will talk about is not about art but about cinema. The Cinematheque Francaise one of the most venerable institutions of its genre is hosted nowadays in the Bercy area of Paris in a building designed by Frank Gehry. Just browsing through the program of the month makes a cinema lover full on envy for the folks who have the chance of having such an institution at their reach.


(video source bujutom)


We did not come however there to see movies but to visit the Stanley Kubrick exhibition. As the director’s family made available a great number of documents about the creative process of the artist, the exhibition provides a comprehensive and detailed image of each one of his films, from the 50s until the 90s, plus a few projects that he never completed (like a film about Napoleon) or other directors finished (AI made eventually by Spielberg).

We tried to see the best of what Paris could offer in art, museums and exhibitions in this season, but we were far from having seen all. A partial list of things we did not get to see included an exhibition of the Impressionist works about Paris at Hotel de Ville, a retrospective Severini at the Orangerie, a contemporary Indian art exhibition at the Centre Georges Pompidou peered with an exhibition about Lucknow at Musee Guimet (part of an Indian culture festival) and many other. It’s a city that lives by art and culture.

St Etienne Cathedral

The morning of the 5th day of our trip was dedicated to visiting Metz. After having listed the principal attractions of the city and the walks to be made on the streets we reached the conclusion that there was no way we can see all we want, so we better focus on the principal monument of the city – the Saint Etienne Cathedral – and leave everything else for another visit sometimes in the future.

Marche Couvert (Cardinal's Palace)

The present structure of the cathedral was built between the 13th to the 16th century, on a location where previous churches have existed, maybe as early as the 5th century when the cult of St. Etienne became popular in the Christianized area of Western Europe. A massive renovation took place in the 19th century when Metz was under German rule, following a fire caused by fireworks shot on the occasion of the visit of kaiser Wilhelm II. It is located between the Place d’Armes (see the night photo in the previous entry of the blog) and the Marche Couvert which is in fact the building that was planned to host the palace of the cardinal if the French Revolution and the Napoleon secularization would not have spoiled the plans.

Statues on Portail de la Vierge

Portail details

The 13th and 14th building is a typical example in the series of Gothic style cathedrals that can be found in many of the mains cities of France, and the restoration in the 19th century keeps the atmosphere in what can be described as neo-gothic style. The statues and ornaments on the big gates and external facades are an argument in this direction.

interior of St Etienne Cathedral

When entering the cathedral the first thing that impresses the visitor is the height of the nave – the Metz structure is the third tallest of all churches in France.

stained-glass windows and ceiling

Then the eye is attracted by the fabulous combination between the architecture and stained-glass work. It is maybe the most impressive collection of stained glass windows that can be found in any church in France and maybe world wide, with works of masters of the genre spreading from the 13th to the late 20th century. The effect is spectacular as an ensemble, and at the same time each group and collection of windows is worth being examined closely, understood and admired.

14th century Herman de Munster's windows (West facade)

Although it is not the oldest in the church, the work on the Western wall is the most impressive of the ones dated from the 14th century. It belongs to master Herman de Munster and was created around 1384. The huge rosary has 11 meters and diameter and the images of the apostles can be admired in the windows below. For this superb masterpiece the artist was rewarded with the honor to be buried in the church, actually under his work – something very rare at that time for somebody not belonging to royalty or high clergy.

16th century windows by Valentin Bousch

The chapels in the Southern wing of the cathedral are decorated with windows created in the 16th century by Valentin Bousch. The techniques, expressiveness and care for the representation of human figures and bodies specific to the Renaissance are present in the superposed registers representing saints and bishops of Metz.

Chapelle du Saint Sacrement - windows by Jacques Villon

Jumping to the 20th century I was impressed by the windows that decorate the Holy Sacrament chapel designed by the Cubist artist Jacques Villon.  The window in the middle represents the crucifixion, on the left side the Last Supper presented as a Passover Seder, and on the right side the wedding at Cana and an Old Testament representation of Moses.

1960 windows by Chagall inspired by the book of Genesis

It is however the windows by Marc Chagall that represent the pick of the art of stained-glass windows in 20th century present in the church. I have seen windows created by Chagall in other churches in the United States and in Zurich, and I know about famous works in the genre at the United States building in New York and at the Knesset in Jerusalem. I believe that the works in Metz created between 1960 and 1963 represent some of the best such works of Chagall.

1960 windows by Chagall - Jesus, Moses, king David

The representation of Christ on the cross overlooks from the tears-shaped rosary. Most of the surface in Chagall’s windows in Metz however represent characters from the Old Testament.

1963 windows by Chagall - Genesis

The theme of Genesis dominates many of the windows in Metz – here are scenes from the book of Genesis from the Creation, life in the Garden of Eden, the original scene and the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise.

altar table from the period of Charlemagne

There are more interesting things and  corners to be seen in the cathedral. The crypt gathers a number of art and religious objects created during the many centuries of history of the churches that were successively built on this place. Beyond objects related to the history of the monster of Graoully said to have haunted the city for many generations, the visitor can admire even older objects, like the stone altar table from the period of Charlemagne – older than one thousand years.

medieval sculpture

A collection of wonderful wooden statues representing saints and monks date back from the 13th century, the period when the present church started to be built.

16th century descent to the Tomb

Last piece of art from the collection in the crypt that I liked and photographed is the well preserved statuary group dated from the 16th century and representing the descend in the Tomb. Original colors are very well preserved, which is quite rare, allowing for the group to be seen in a way close to the one it was seen by the contemporaries of the artists.

tryptich on pillars

Before leaving the church and the city of Metz for the next point in our itinerary (which will be one of the most moving and high interest stops in our trip) I took a last photo of a painting on three adjoining pillars building an original triptych in a style that reminds the old Byzantine icons.