Marc Chagall and His Times: A Documentary Narrative

Overview

This book presents a new and comprehensive biography of one of the most prominent artists of the twentieth century in dialogue with the events and ideologies of his time. It includes hundreds of private letters and documents written by Chagall and his contemporaries in Russian, Yiddish, French, English, and other languages, translated by Benjamin and Barbara Harshav into English and placed in their personal and historical context. The narrative encompasses Chagall's long life (1887-1985) in Russia, France, and ...
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Overview

This book presents a new and comprehensive biography of one of the most prominent artists of the twentieth century in dialogue with the events and ideologies of his time. It includes hundreds of private letters and documents written by Chagall and his contemporaries in Russian, Yiddish, French, English, and other languages, translated by Benjamin and Barbara Harshav into English and placed in their personal and historical context. The narrative encompasses Chagall's long life (1887-1985) in Russia, France, and the United States, as well as in Germany and Israel. It also explores his deep roots in folk culture, his personal relationships and loves, and his involvement with the art of the Russian Revolution, Surrealism, Communism, Zionism, Yiddish literature, and the State of Israel. The book exposes the complex relationships between Chagall's three cultural identities: Jewish, Russian, and French. It is a biography of the turbulent times of the twentieth century and the transformations of a Jew in it -- his meteoric rise from the "ghetto" of the Russian Pale of Settlement to the centers of modern culture.

Marc Chagall and His Times provides a major contribution to the understanding of some of the central problems of modern art: originality, the interaction between the formal discoveries of the avant garde and cultural or multi-cultural representation, and the relations between an artist's art and his personal biography

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Harshav (Hebrew & comparative literature, Yale) presents two volumes concerning the life and times of Russian painter Marc Chagall (1877-1985). Many of the books on Chagall focus, of course, on the art itself while offering a limited scope of the artist. Harshav's documentary texts will fill a void in the study of the artist and provide a comprehensive anchor for more all-encompassing research in the future, as Chagall's written legacy is mostly unknown. The more substantial volume, Marc Chagall and His Times, focuses on autobiographical writings, some correspondence, and a narrative outline of his life. Chagall had a zest for living, and the family photos, reproductions of lesser-known works, and other documents from his life dovetail with the turbulent times of the 20th century and illustrate the impact of life on art. Marc Chagall on Art and Culture, due out earlier but more appropriate as a companion to the later volume, covers public statements, lectures, essays, and interviews. The reader wrestles, along with Chagall, over matters of Jewish identity, the Russian Revolution, Surrealism, and communism. These two volumes would have worked better as one, or at least should have been published at the same time, as readers will typically need both. Marc Chagall on Art and Culture depends on information obtained from the documentary biography and may indeed confuse readers with limited background on the artist. However, the information presented in both will be invaluable to students, researchers, professionals, and aficionados alike, and both are recommended for libraries specializing in art history or Hebrew studies; just remember to purchase the second book in October!-Nadine Speidel, Cuyahoga Cty. P.L., Parma, OH Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher

"Yale University's Professor Benjamin Harshav is the preeminent Jewish culture critic today. His writings on Israel, the Holocaust, and the Hebrew and Yiddish languages are among the most illuminating, instructive, and inspiring in the genre that covers those disparate subjects. But he has outdone himself with this absolutely unique volume on painter Marc Chagall which runs more than a thousand pages. Although referred to as a biography, Harshav's work is far more ambitious."—The Jewish Tribune

"[Marc Chagall on Art and Culture and Marc Chagall and His Times] represent important contributions to the fields of art history, twentieth-century history, and Russian studies, and Marc Chagall and His Times in particular will, I suspect, be a standard work for those studying Chagall's life for years to come."—Canadian Journal of History/ Annales canadiennes of d'histoire

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Product Details

Meet the Author


Benjamin Harshav is Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at Yale University. Among his many books are The Meaning of Yiddish (Stanford, 1990) Language in Time of Revolution (Stanford, 1993) and Marc Chagall on Art and Culture (Stanford, 2003).
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Table of Contents

Preface vii
Introduction 1
Part 1 Roots
1. Imagining Chagall's Childhood and Youth 21
2. Chagall's First Autobiography 70
Part 2 Struggling Artist: 1900-1918
3. First Teachers: 1900-1910 169
4. Paris and Berlin: 1910-1914 198
5. Back to Russia: 1914-1918 222
Part 3 Art and Revolution: 1918-1923
6. Commissar of Art in Vitebsk: 1918-1920 241
7. Modern Yiddish Theater--Moscow: 1920-1922 277
8. Berlin: 1922-1923 308
Part 4 France Between Two World Wars: 1923-1941
9. Paris--"My Second Vitebsk": 1923-1929 317
10. Toward a Jewish Art Museum: 1929-1930 351
11. First Visit to Palestine: 1930-1933 362
Between the Open Sky and the Fires of Broadway: Chagall's Illustrations to Lyesin's Poetry 394
12. In Years of Crisis: 1933-1939 432
13. World War II and the Flight from Nazi Europe: 1939-1941 477
Part 5 Refugee in the United States: 1941-1948
14. With Bella in America: 1941-1945 509
15. "My New-Found Love" and the Liberated Europe: 1945-1946 561
16. Exhibitions: Chicago and Paris: 1946-1948 606
Part 6 Return to France: 1948-1952
17. Orgeval: 1948-1949 651
18. Vence: 1949-1951 693
19. Second Trip to Israel: 1951 744
20. Frustrations: 1952 770
Part 7 The Last Thirty-Three Years: 1952-1985
21. Life with Vava: 1952-1956 801
22. Second Visit to Chicago: 1957-1958 840
23. Stained Glass Windows: 1958-1964 858
24. Varian Fry's Aggravation: 1964-1969 898
25. Grand Palais and Other Glories: 1969-1985 927
Epilogue 957
Reference Matter
Notes 963
Index of Names 993
Index of Works by Marc Chagall Mentioned in the Text 1003
Index of Letters and Documents 1005
List of Illustrations 1019
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