Robert Schlaug took his series of landscape photographs and stretched out the colors, creating linear striped gradients from its natural palette. Each starting point of the gradients is carefully chosen based on the composition of the picture and the effect he wants to achieve. By cleverly making the gradient a part of the photo, sometimes it appears like waterfalls at the edge of a country road, other times it becomes a wall like digital sunset.
He is less celebrated, though, for his paintings of another iconic figure who obsessed him throughout his career: Jesus.
Starting with a line drawing of the Crucifixion he made in 1908 while studying art in St. Petersburg, Chagall depicted Christ on the cross dozens of times. Some Chagall Christs resemble the Eastern Orthodox icons the artist knew from his childhood in Russia. Others don’t look like the Christ in churches anywhere: they wear Jewish prayer shawls in place of a loincloth, and sometimes Tefillin, the leather boxes Jews strap to their foreheads and arms.
These religiously ambiguous figures populate “Chagall: Love, War, and Exile,” a startling and provocative show opening September 15 at the Jewish Museum in New York.
The green fiddler is here, along with flying blue cows and other popular Chagall motifs. But the dreamscape is now a nightmare. Villages burn, the patriarchs weep, and fleeing Jews clutch their Torah scrolls and each other.
The somber nature of the show might surprise audiences used to a more cheerful version of Marc Chagall, infused with nostalgia and joy.