Art lovers have been spoiled time and again in Frankfurt, especially in recent years, with top-class exhibitions that have attracted interested visitors to Frankfurt's museums far beyond the city limits. Now comes "Chagall. World in Turmoil," another such show is coming to the Kunsthalle Schirn. It is the first major special exhibition in Germany devoted to Chagall's work in 15 years. The Schirn last showed a Chagall exhibition in 1991, focusing on the early phase of his work. Now, with the help of 60 loans from around the world, the new show focuses on a rather lesser-known facet of the work of one of the best-known and most frequently reproduced artists.
Whoever thinks of Marc Chagall (1887-1985) usually thinks of imaginative motifs and a colorful implementation from. But the painter, who is considered one of the most idiosyncratic artists of modernism, has also shown other facets in his very long artistic career. The Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt is devoting a new exhibition to a hitherto little-known side of Chagall, which can be seen until February 19. On display are works from the 1930s and 1940s, during which his colorful palette increasingly darkens. These are years marked by war, flight and expulsion - themes that are unfortunately all too relevant again today. Much of what Chagall experienced as a Jewish painter during this time is also reflected in his works from that time, which is why the works on display sometimes run counter to the expectations that many might have of a Chagall exhibition. But they are also of an honesty and intensity that one might not be prepared for in this way.
Seven sections, into which the tour of the exhibition is divided, show how "closely the art of Marc Chagall, often described as fantastic, is connected with the reality of his life," as Sebastian Baden, director of the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, points out. The chapter "Flight and Expulsion," for example, is filled with a detailed realism and brutality that one would not necessarily have expected from Chagall in this way. But even though the exhibition discusses the difficult, gloomy phase in the artist's oeuvre, this heaviness is repeatedly broken up by works that radiate a certain cheerfulness - for example, in the costumes and designs for Chagall's stage productions for the ballet "Aleko" and for "The Firebird". The concluding chapter, "Looking Forward, Looking Back," in which some very intense images can still be seen, also already heralds a more positive phase in Chagall's work again. And, according to Baden, even a somber Chagall is still a typical Chagall. For here, too, it is revealed that he was one of the best storytellers of his time and a master in the use of color.
With "Chagall. World in Turmoil", the Schirn Kunsthalle has created a really exciting exhibition that was actually supposed to be shown in the spring of 2021. It is a real stroke of luck that, despite the Corona-related postponement, it has been possible to get all the loans together here thematically bundled. It is not an easy exhibition, but one that challenges, that requires an intense contemplation and examination of the works and their themes. But it is really worth it, because works such as "The Angel's Fall" are simply fascinating to look at.
In addition to an extensive catalog with many interesting text contributions and numerous illustrations, a Digitorial® also appears for the exhibition. Here, the political events that shaped Chagall's work are highlighted at the stations Vitebsk, Paris, Jerusalem and New York. The free digital educational offering is available in German and English at www.schirn.de/digitorial.
"Chagall. World in Turmoil" is open until 19.02.2023 always Tuesday to Sunday. You can also find all other info at: www.schirn.de