Your basket (0 items) | view basket
The White Crucifixion
Tell a friend
Explores how Marc Chagall’s life, painting and Jewish experience in the twentieth century are interlinked
The novel is told from Marc Chagall’s point of view and in it he reflects back on his life and the tumultuous events of the twentieth century that shaped his life and his work
The White Crucifixion starts with Chagall’s difficult birth in Vitebsk 1887, in the present-day Belarus, and tells the unlikely story of how the eldest son of a herring schlepper became enrolled in art school where he quickly gained a reputation as ‘Moyshe, the painting wonder’.
The novel paints an authentic picture of a Russian town divided by belief and wealth, rumours of pogroms never far away, yet bustling with talented young artists.
In 1913 Chagall relished the opportunity to move to Paris to take up residence in the artist colony The Hive (La Ruche). The Yiddish-speaking artists (Ėcole Juive) living there were all poor. The Hive had no electric light, or running water and yet many of its artists were to become famous, among them Amedeo Modigliani and Osip Zadkine.
The novel vividly portrays the dynamics of an artist colony, its pettiness, friendships and the constant battle to find the peace and quiet to work.
When Chagall’s great love Bella moves into the Hive, he muses: Yes, I am in love, yes I am happy, but I am and I remain an artist, a painter, first and foremost. I cannot lose the totality of myself in Bella because something of me must always remain outside and aloof from anything which is not my art.
In 1914 Chagall and Bella make what’s supposed to be a fleeting visit to his beloved Vitebsk, only to get trapped there by the outbreak of the first world war, the subsequent Russian revolution, and the establishment of the communist regime which is increasingly hostile towards artists like Chagall.
Yet, Chagall keeps on painting, and the novel provides a fascinating account of what inspired some of his greatest painting. He manages to return to France and is reunited with his paintings only to be thwarted by yet another world war which proves disastrous for the people he knew in Vitebsk which include his uncle Neuch, the original ‘fiddler on the roof’.
The White Crucifixion is a fictionalised account of the roller-coaster life of one of the most enigmatic artists of the twentieth century.
It will be published in February 2018. For more information or review copies please contact the publisher: firstname.lastname@example.org, +44(0)7792611929.
Tell a friend