Art: Fiddler on the Roof of Modernism: Marc Chagall: 1887-1985

Marc Chagall: 1887-1985

"He grabs a church and paints with the church," wrote a poet of the cubist era, Blaise Cendrars. "He grabs a cow and paints with the cow . . . He paints with an oxtail/ With all the dirty passion of a little Jewish town/ With all the exacerbated sexuality of provincial Russia." Soutine? Strangely enough, no: Marc Chagall.

Cendrars' rhapsody reminds one how different the late decades of that hugely productive painter were from his early ones. One does not think of late Chagall in terms of the "dirty passion" and "exacerbated sexuality" that struck his (mostly Gentile) friends in...

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