Jewish Museum New York City

Chagall, Lissitzky, Malevich: The Russian Avant-Garde in Vitebsk, 1918-1922

On our fall 2018 trip to New York City, the Jewish Museum was hosting an exhibit entitled  Chagall, Lissitzky, Malevich: The Russian Avant-Garde in Vitebsk, 1918-1922. The exhibit portrays the groundbreaking work of these three artists and their protegees when teaching in Vitebsk in the years following the Russian Revolution, with each developing complementary styles of revolutionary art and their own personalities. Chagall, for example, possibly presaging what would be extensive work in designing stage and opera sets and costumes (see our post on a Los Angeles exhibition of his work in theater), from his early adult years, dressed not in street clothes, but in costumes of his own design,  

Each of these artists employed abstraction in different ways:

  • Chagall painted figurative and allegorical works;
  • Lissitzky focused on geometric abstractions; and
  • Malevich focused on the creation of the Russian Supremacism movement.

All, in their own interrelated ways, sought to create a form of symbolic expression for an anticipated Utopian society. All formed foundations on which future generations of abstract artists would invent new genres.

Malevich - Mystic SuprematismChagall - Cubist LandscapeChagall - double Portrait with Wine GlassLissitzky - Album of Figurines for Opera

Jewish Museum Permanent Collection

As long as we were there, we took time to explore the museum’s permanent collection. We examined xamples of Jewish art across the millennia, from a 3rd-century BC sarcophagus with the image of a menorah through all types of contemporary works. The museum has two exhibits of menorah—including a fascinating contemporary representation that consists of more 80 examples.

A smaller exhibit shows different representations of the Star of David over the ages. Others paintings and other images showed Jewish families and individuals by Jewish artists. Another fun exhibit shows video clips of television shows including The Sopranos, M.A.S.H. and the Simpsons of Jewish psychiatrists. Artists represented in the galleries include Mark Rothko, Lee Krazner, Camille Pissarro, Louise Nevelson and Cindy Sherman in a delicious photo of herself as an ancient biblical scholar.

Yakerson - Suprematist Composition20181022_121027Joyce and OyRothko - CrucifixSherman - AncestorShire - Menorah #7

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