Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Chagall's lithographs (1960), Bible Series

Chagall's lithographs (1960), Bible Series

In 1931, art dealer Ambroise Vollard suggested to Marc Chagall (1887-1985) that he undertake a series of illustrations of the Bible.  Chagall agreed and worked on these hand-colored etchings over a 25 year period until all 105 were completed and published by Teriade, successor to Vollard, in 1957.  

In taking on the task of illustrating the Bible, Chagall undertook one of the most monumental printing projects ever attempted.  The 105 plates were the largest number Chagall had done on a single subject.  In addition, pictorially and dramatically, the works are more complex than those found in his previous sets of etchings.   The illustrated scenes come from twelve books of the Bible and the majority depict scenes from Genesis and adhere closely to the Biblical text.  

Chagall is one of the most successful artists of the twentieth century.  He came from a large and devout Jewish family.  Born in the small Russian town of Vitebsk, Chagall studied art in St. Petersburg and Paris.  In 1923, Chagall fled the Soviet Union and settled in France where he began working with the Parisian art dealer and publisher Ambroise Vollard.  

Chagall’s approach to the Bible is one that focuses on the intense encounters between God and humanity.  Each image tells the story plainly and poignantly.  Curator Jean Bloch Rosensaft, of the Jewish Museum in New York notes that the series “brings together the mature artist’s spirituality and childhood’s fantasy through the sophisticated artistry of the masterprintmaker.”
Adam and Eve expelled from Paradise Land, 1960Adam and Eve with the forbidden fruit, 1960 Ahasuerus sends Vasthi away, 1960Boaz wakes up and sees Ruth at his feet, 1960Cain and Abel, 1960
Creation, 1960Esther, 1960Eve is cursed by God, 1960Hagar in the desert, 1960Job in despair, 1960
Job praying, 1960Meeting of Ruth and Boaz, 1960Michal saves David from Saul , 1960Naomi and her beautiful daughters, 1960Paradise, 1960
Paradise, 1960Rachel hides her father's household gods, 1960Rahab and the Spies of Jericho, 1960Ruth at the feet of Boaz, 1960Ruth gleaning, 1960
Sarah and Abimelech, 1960Sarah and angels, 1960Tamar, beautiful daughter of Judah, 1960The Face of Israel, 1960Untitled (The cover of Bible), 1960