I took a walk across the park and along the Jackie Onassis Reservoir earlier this week to check out an exhibit of Marc Chagall’s paintings called “Love, War and Exile” at the Jewish Museum on the Upper East Side. My familiarity with Chagall before I went was minimal – like, “Hey wasn’t there a plot point in Notting Hill about Chagall?” level minimal. But, after I missed the Dutch Masters at the Frick earlier this year I refused to miss this one too. I mean, it’s New York! I should be seeing great art, not spending my time catching up on Scandal! (not that there's anything wrong with that…)
The show was titled “Love, War and Exile”, so I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I wasn’t really prepared for the emotion in Chagall’s work – tenderness, despair, urgency. His experience as a Russian-born, Jewish man who fled to the United States from Paris during World War II is very clear in his paintings and the allegorical scenes portraying the danger Jewish people were in during that terrible time are powerful and dark.
Perhaps no surprise, but I gravitated toward the lighter pieces depicting Chagall’s relationship with his first wife, Bella. No photos allowed in the gallery, but thanks to the magic of the internet I was able to find images so you can see my favorites. The first two are from the 1930s – more than 15 years after they married! - and the second two were painted in the years following her passing in 1944. The colors are gorgeous and I’m not an art historian by any means, but I see so much intimacy and tenderness in the closeness of the figures. Amazing and definitely worth checking out before the show closes this weekend, assuming that you already know what Olivia Pope and Associates are up to.