Oglethorpe University Museum of Art (OUMA) hosts a new exhibition featuring the work of the Russian-born 20th century painter and printmaker, Marc Chagall. The exhibition named Chagall: The Early Etchings of the 1920s examines 65 monochromatic etchings and 6 colored lithographs. Museum Director, Lloyd Nick, walks us through the show, first hand.
“This is a special collection unlike any other we’ve seen at OUMA. It was owned by one of the most important historians of the 20th century, Lionello Venturi, and gifted to Albert Skira's widow," Nick said.
After the opening last Saturday, Sept. 24, people are visiting the exhibition with excitement. There are two main narratives showcased at the exhibition. The first is The Tale of Les Ames Morts (The Dead Souls) written by Russian poet and novelist Nikolai Gogol of the 19th century. The second is The Tales of La Fontaine’s Selected Fables written by French author, Jean de la Fontaine of the 17th century. Both prints were commissioned by the art dealer Ambros Vollard in the 1920s.
“This is a superior and unique exhibition rarely seen anywhere. It not only features The Dead Souls and La Fontaine's fables, but we have included six of Chagall's exuberant and stunning colored lithographs from private collectors living near the university. The combination is a one-time only event,” explains Nick.
As you walk through the space and read the stories and remark on the illustrations, you’ll find that humor and satire are major themes at play in Chagall’s work. It may also seem that stories are light at first glance but as you read more deeply, you’ll find moral themes and social issues in discussion.
Nick elaborates, “The idea of this unethical person (Chichikov) thinking up this bizarre "get rich" scheme to make himself appear wealthy and thus distinguished in the community; his plan is to retire on a farm and lead a lazy life. This, of course, is a biting comment about society. The way these country landlords are drawn is filled with subtle and blatant humor. Gogol was criticizing the unpleasant characteristics found in society, like greed, sloth, stinginess, etc. La Fontaine also satirizes the society, but through fables. A humorous example is The Wolf and the Shepherds where the wolf becomes so depressed from wide spread criticism of his reputation for killing sheep that he is thinking of becoming a vegetarian.”
For more details about Chagall and the work presented at Oglethorpe, Nick will be leading a lecture called The Early Creative years of Marc Chagall on Wednesday, November 30, 7:30 p.m. The lecture will explore Chagall’s art based on his wife and home country of Russia. Click here for more details.
If you are interested in visiting the exhibit, the work will stay on display through Dec. 11.
OUMA hours are from 12 p.m. – 5 p.m., Tuesday – Sunday with Docent Tours at 2 p.m. on Sundays. For other general information and directions, visit the website.