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Chagall Exhibition Spotlights Great Colorist [VIDEO]

Marc Chagall's famed Bible series among featured works at Nassau County Museum of Art exhibition.

One of the unique talents who helped define 20th century art is getting his due with the first major exhibition of his work in two decades. 

The has the wide-ranging works of on display now through Nov. 4. 

The Russian-born Chagall, considered the most renowned Jewish artist of his time, died exiled in France in 1985 at age 98. The exhibition NCMA put together showcases a lifetime of the master’s art, more than 100 pieces on display in Roslyn.

“It’s emotional, it’s moody, it’s glorious in color,” said Constance Schwartz, the museum’s director emerita and guest curator for Chagall. “He is one of the great colorists of the century.” 

It took the full resources of the Nassau County Museum of Art, including the focus of two esteemed senior statesmen for the organization, to make the exhibition possible. Schwartz, who served as museum director for 20 years, teamed up with founding president Arnold A. Saltzman to organize an event two years in the making.

“We called in all our IOUs to get the works,” Saltzman said at Friday’s preview. “We didn’t buy this show. It’s a homegrown show. It’s a pretty hard thing to accomplish.” 

The centerpiece of the exhibition is Chagall’s famed series of Bible etchings on display in the second floor galleries. Saltzman even loaned two of his Chagall Bible works to NCMA, noting that the event was built on the good will of several local collectors.

“We’re sort of spearheading a renewed interest in Chagall,” Schwartz said.

Several programs are planned around the Chagall exhibition:

  • Artists of the 20th Century: Marc Chagall is a 50-minute film screening daily from July 21 through November 4; the film explores Chagall’s Russian-Jewish roots.
  • Lunchtime lectures on the exhibition will be offered on Aug. 23, Sept. 20 and Oct. 25.
  • Director Emerita and Guest Curator Constance Schwartz discusses Chagall and the works included in the exhibition on Oct. 6.
  • Klezmer Band presents a concert of the spirited music heard at Jewish weddings and celebrations in the Russia of Chagall’s youth on Sept. 15.
  • Art historian and author Charles A. Riley II, Ph.D. returns to the museum on Oct. 13 with a talk about Chagall’s artwork for the performing arts, especially opera and dance.
  • Children’s programs in connection with the Chagall exhibition include Friday morning readings of Eastern European folklore on July 27, Aug. 3 and Aug. 10, followed by a family-friendly exhibition tour and supervised art activities. 
  • Show Us Your Collections! on Aug. 18 will encourage youngsters to share their prized possessions and create new art with a variety of materials.
  • Discover Chagall’s Childhood World on Oct. 20 features a real petting zoo to echo the animal characters seen in Chagall’s paintings of his native Village of Vitebsk; children will be guided in creating pastel representations of their own neighborhoods.

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