Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A rabbi's thoughts on Chagall’s ‘White Crucifixion’

By Rabbi Michael Leo Samuel
"White Crucifixion" (1938) by Marc Chagall. Oil on canvas, 60 7/8 x 55 1/16 in. Collection of the Art Institute of Chicago
CALIFORNIA---This past Shabbat at Temple Beth Shalom we had a most remarkable discussion on the famous Russian painter, Marc Chagall, as we discussed his various paintings of Jesus’s crucifixion. A panel consisting of Dr. David Strom, Dr. Tzvi Sax, and myself explored the history of several of Chagall’s painting, most famously, the painting he made in 1938, “White Crucifixion.” Chagall did something that no artist before or after him—he portrayed Jesus as a martyr of the Jewish people, and it was this picture that drew considerable attention to the anti-Semitism that occurred in Russia and in Germany in the 1930s. The entire picture cannot help but make Jews and Christians uncomfortable looking at this graphic work of art. [link]