Chagall – Between war and peace

- 13 September 2013 - 5 January 2014


Ámos Imre, the “Hungarian Chagall” – in the Vortex of War 1937-1944

An exhibition displaying works by Marc Chagall and Imre Ámos will run at the Hungarian National Gallery from 13 September 2013. Marc Chagall and Imre Ámos are artists whose personal histories, religion and Jewish identity played a central role in their oeuvres. Chagall, the old master who survived everything and everyone, and Ámos, the martyr who died young. Their genuine art is deeply rooted in the traditions and history of Eastern Europe, as much as the stories of their lives. One a Russian émigré, the other a martyred Hungarian Jew. The life and art of these two men were shared, despite the fact that they personally only had the chance to meet once, in Paris, on 4th October in 1937, for a few inspired hours.

Two exhibitions will be hosted simultaneously by the Hungarian National Gallery from September. One of these will be the show displaying material of over sixty works selected for the Budapest museum from the Parisian Musée du Luxembourg’s Chagall exhibition, which will run through the end of July this year. At the focus of the Paris exhibition titled Marc Chagall – Between War and Peace are the master’s illustrations of the Bible and his works drawing inspiration from the Jewish life of his Russian homeland and the experiences he lived through there. However, the true sensation of the Budapest exhibition is the more than three metres by four metres canvas that will arrive at this particular show from Saint-Paul de Vence, the small town in the south of France where Chagall lived in the last twenty years of his life. Chagall’s principal work Life (La Vie), painted in 1964, will leave the walls of the Fondation Maeght, the local museum preserving numerous prominent works by the master, for the very first time. The piece, vibrant with colour and populated by some eighty figures, is the artist’s truly fascinating summative work.

As if providing a counterpoint to the predominantly cheerful and optimistic art of Chagall is the world of Imre Ámos. Our exhibition titled Imre Ámos, the “Hungarian Chagall” – In the Vortex of the War 1937-1944 showcases the artist’s most tragic works. The images depicting the Jewish community in Nagykálló, along with the paintings and drawings recording the horrors of the labour service and the war throw light on another, more tragic aspect of Jewish life.

This parallel exhibition surveys the works of two prominent artists, whose paths – whether running side by side or in opposite directions – reveal typically 20th-century life stories. Two destinies in which tradition and religion are made an integral part of the new kind of artistic tradition of modernism. In the joint exhibition showcasing almost the entire Chagall oeuvre and the most significant works by Imre Ámos visitors will encounter the fate of European Jewry – and ultimately the 20th-century history of humankind – presented through the duality of poetry and drama, humour and tragedy, happiness and despair, joy and horror.

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