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April 12, 1985 - Image 8

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-04-12

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

8

Friday, April 12, 1985

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

PURELY COMMENTARY

Marc Chagall

Continued from Page 2

Moscow correspondent who cabled this
story from Russia.
The Anderson report was mere intro-
duction to the Chagall-USSR drama. Why
did the Communists, who at the outset
were served well by Chagall, ban Chagall
and artists of his school of thought. Again
in the Times, a year later, under the date of
Nov. 18, 1967, Henry Kamm, also from
Moscow, cabled this story to his paper:
Tucked away among pictures
by artists no one remembers in
Moscow's largest museum is a
drawing by Marc Chagall.
The painter's works, banned
here since soon after he left Russia
in 1922, have been confined to the
storage rooms of museums here
and in Leningrad.
Now one drawing has shown
- up in a special 50th-anniversary
exhibition of Revolutionary art at
the Tretyakov Gallery. It is of
minor artistic value but great his-
toric interest, dating from the im-
mediate post-Revolutionary
period when Mr. Chagall was
commissar of art and head of the
fine arts academy in his native city
of Vitebsk.
_ It is a sketch meant to be
copied for part of a large poster,
dated 1918-19, devoted to the
theme 'Peace to the huts, war to
the palaces."
The pencil and water-color
drawing, about the size of a sheet
of letter paper, illustrates the sec-
ond part of the slogan. It shows a
peasant holding a columned man-
sion over his head as though about
to smash it on the ground. He
wears a belted red tunic, white
trousers and black boots. His hair
is green.
In his autobiography, Mr.
Chagall recalled Vitebsk just be-
fore the first anniversary of the
Revolution.
"In our town there were a lot of
house painters," he wrote. "I called
them all together and I said to
them: 'Listen, you and your chil-
dren will all be students at my
school.
"Close your shops for paint-
ings signs and walls. All orders will
be sent to our school, and you will
share them among you. Here are a
dozen sketches. Copy them on
large canvases, and on the day
when the column of workers
marches through the city, flags
and torchesin their hands, you will
hang them on the walls of the
town."

"All the house painters, the
bearded old ones and their ap-
prentices, got to work copying my
cows and my horses," he contin-
ued. "And the day of Oct. 25 (under
the pre-Revolutionary calendar)
my many-colored animals, swelled
with Revolution, were hanging all
over town."
The people loved them, Mr.
Chagall went on, but the Com-
munist leaders asked: "Why is the
cow green, and why is the horse
flying into the sky, why? What does
it have to do with Marx and Le-
nin?"
Chagall's inability to answer
those questions satisfactorily led
to his estrangement from the new
leaders. The same thing happened
to many artists who had believed
the Revolution would also free art,
and a number of the pictures in the
Moscow display are in the Ex-

pressionist or Futurist styles that
were later banned.

The sensational stories from the
Soviet Union about the Communist atti-
tude toward Chagall found a climax in a
UPI cable from Moscow, dated April 13,
1968, revealing the following:

An exhibition of the works of
Marc Chagall has been canceled
and measures have been taken
against several dissident intellec-
tuals in a mounting Communist
campaign for ideological con-
formism, according to informed
sources.
The Chagall show was to have
opened May 12 in Akadem-
gorodok, a city built recently as a
suburb of Novosibirsk, Siberia, for
the Soviet Academy of Sciences.
Chagall was reported to have
lent some of his paintings to the
exhibition and to have promised to
attend its opening.
Mikhail Makarenko, director
of Akademgorodok's art gallery,
has been removed from his job, the
sources said, presumably because
he had published a catalogue of the
exhibition without authorization.
At the same time it was offi-
cially reported that at least one
painter, B. Birger, has been expel-
led from the Communist party for
having signed a petition protesting
the trial in January of four dissi-
dents who were found guilty of
association with National Union of
Russian Solidarists, an anti-
Communist emigre organization
based in West Germany and
known as N.T.S.
While Communists banned , him, the
world accepted and acclaimed Chagall. On
Nov. 17, 1967, the United Nations issued
First Postal Commemoration of Art Gifts,
containing a multi-colored sheet approx-
imately five inches wide and three-and-a-
quarter inches high depicting the Marc

Chagall receives an honorary doctorate from Hebrew University in 1977. •

Chagall stained glass window in the UN
Secretariat Building.
The 15 by 12 window was a gift from
Chagall and members of the secretariat in
memory of the late UN Secretary General
Dag Hammarskjold and 17 who died with
him in a plane crash at Ndola, Africa, Sept.
17, 1961, while on a peace-keeping Cong
mission.
There is an updated item that adds
merit to the Chagall story. The Times, in
its April 1, issue, provides this addendum
to the UN Chagall painting under the
heading "Chagall's Gift":
It is no longer included on the
public tour of the United Nations,
but a stained-glass panel donated
by Marc Chagall still catches the
eye. _

Staff and visitors have been
stopping by to pay respects to the
great French artist, who died
Tlwrsday at the age of 97.
The panel, which Chagall de-
signed in honor of the late Secre-
tary General Dag Hammarskjold,
depicts symbols of peace, law and
motherhood on a background of
swirling luminescent blue.
"The real beauty of it is in the
color," said Jean M. Robinette, an
artist from Dallas who works in
stained glass and who stopped by
the United Nations for a visit on
Friday.

The artist is dead. His memory lives on
in Vitebsk, in Israel, the United Nations
and the admiring world.

Littell Symbolizes Chassid And Hacham Among Christians

Rev. Franklin H. Littell

"Holocaust Academy" has become a
challenging and deeply emotionally-
appealing title for an occasion to honor the
righteous who have not failed to show re-

spect for human values. Among the Chris-
tians, these selected people with a sense of
honor and with a dedication for justice
have been listed as the Righteous Gentiles.
A leader in these ranks will be honored at
the current Holocaust Academy, Sunday at
the Jewish Community Center.
Dr. Franklin H. Littell is the righteous
selectee for this occasion and great respect
should be shoWn by the group sponsoring
the event — the Shaarit Haplaytah move-
ment composed of survivors from the Nazi
horror and these co-sponsors: Holocaust
Memorial Center, Greater Detroit Round
Table of the National Conference of Chris-
tians and Jews, Jewish Community Coun-
cil and Jewish Community Center.
It would be an unfair oversight not to
provide the merited credit for initiating
these academies to the man who has led in
the formation of the movement in their
behalf. Dr. John Mames inspired the
academies. The result has become a com-
munal inspiration.
It is to the credit of Dr. Mames that he
has chosen for the current Righteous Gen-
tile designation the eminent Christian, Dr.
Franklin Littell, the fearless advocate of
every just movement that exposes tyranny,
that registers the desired condemnation
for religious bigotries.
Dr. Littell is preacher and scholar. His
works have made him a member of this
newspaper's editorial family. His articles

are the fearless expressions of a scholar
who does not hesitate to indicate where his
fellow Christians act unfairly and prejudi-
cial toward Jews, blacks and whoever is
chosen for hatred.
Therefore the very mention of the
name Franklin Littell must at once result
in an expression of admiration for a man of
justice and deep sincerity. Therefore his
selection for the current honor as the 1985
Righteous Gentile at once lends great
interest in the theme for righteousness, the
merits accorded to the element included
among the Hasidei Ummot Ha-Olam.
There is an important definition for them
in the Encyclopedia Judaica where they
are defined as:

Hasidei Ummot Ha-olam — A
rabbinic term denoting righteous
gentiles. The concept is first found
(albeit in a limited form) in the
Midrash. The Yalkut Shimoni, for
instance, explains that the verse
"Let thy priests be clothed with
righteousness . ." (Ps. 132:9) refers
to "the righteous of other nations
who are priests to the Holy One in
this world."
The notion that the hasidei
ummot ha-olam also merit a place in
the world to come (a true sign of
their worthiness) is found in the
Tosefta, which teaches that they

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