Marc Chagall: The Bible prints

Elizabeth Kerin, Staff Writer

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Painted in 1915, the same year Chagall married his wife, "The Birthday," captures his view of love between husband and wife. Photo courtesy of My Daily Art Display.

The Haggerty Gallery at the University of Dallas will welcome with great anticipation the works of a renowned artist and critic of the 20th century, Marc Chagall, in a self-titled exhibition, “Marc Chagall: The Bible Prints.”

Opening Feb. 6 and showing through April 22, 2016 the exhibit showcases a complete collection of Chagall’s etchings illustrating the Bible, on loan from the Haggerty Museum at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wis. The collection was once housed in the private home of Patrick and Beatrice Haggerty, the gallery’s patrons and namesakes.

The works of Marc Chagall (b. 1887, Vitebsk, Belorussia, d. 1985, Saint Paul, France), master painter, printmaker and designer, were a precursor of and largely influential for the Surrealist movement and the depiction of Freudian psychology in modern art. As stated in the Encyclopædia Britannica, Chagall’s compositions poetically express psychologically rooted tensions, rejecting the paradigm in favor of pictorial logic.

The gallery came to exhibit this renowned collection of work through the Haggerty family, the benefactors of the arts at the UD and subsequently the art department. Over the course of his travels for Texas Instruments, Patrick Haggerty collected Chagall’s original prints for his wife.

The timing of the exhibition is significant in more than one way.

For the university community, the exhibition serves as a milestone for the development of Beatrice Haggerty’s original vision for the UD art department and coincides with the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Braniff Graduate School and the School of Business, explained UD Executive Vice President Robert Galecke.

Phillip Shore, art department co-chair and professor of sculpture, explained that the exhibition is also the apex of the university’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, a Church document that encourages friendly relations between the Church and non-Christian religions.

Chagall, who was Jewish, in many ways serves as an ideal adhesive between the Jewish and Catholic communities surrounding UD. Fitting perfectly into the vision for Nostra Aetate, the exhibit provides UD with an excellent opportunity to  partner with the Jewish community for a series of lectures.

"Job Praying," shown above was etched in 1960. Photo courtesy of Fada.
“Job Praying,” shown above was etched in 1960. Photo courtesy of Fada.

[The idea] “started to form, in earnest, probably about a year ago… And now its contracts are signed, it’s a done deal, we’re doing it … The Jewish community is very excited,” said Shore. “We have [a] community advisory committee that consists of museum directors [and] gallery directors, gallery coordinators”

The process of housing such an exhibit has by no means been lacking complications, as the Haggerty Gallery was until recently unfit to house museum-quality works. Until the gallery space sustained 70 degrees, plus or minus 5 degrees and 50 percent humidity, plus or minus 5 percent, it was unable to meet the requirements for showcasing the likes of Chagall.

Without these conditions, older works, especially of historic value, are prone to damage as the natural fibers of the paper expand and contract with the fluctuating humidity ultimately causing the formation of mold or foxing.

To prevent foxing, Shore recounted, “the Haggertys paid for all the modifications necessary for the gallery to accommodate the show” which was “not inexpensive. They chose to do one room and that’s the gallery.”

Galecke and Shore both expressed enthusiasm that the upcoming Chagall exhibit puts UD one step closer to being a noteworthy member of the Dallas arts scene and wider community.

“I think the whole university is on the cusp of something really exciting,” Shore said. “I’m so thrilled with the positive direction that the university is taking. It benefits [the student body] in such a fantastic way and Chagall is kind of one of those elements.”

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