Chagall and the Artists of the Russian Jewish Theater, 1919-1949

April 23, 2009 - September 7, 2009


Introduction to the Jewish Theater, 1920, tempera, gouache, and opaque white on canvas. State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow. © 2008 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.


Organized by the The Jewish Museum, New York, Chagall and the Artists of the Russian Jewish Theater1919-1949 is the first exhibition devoted to the extraordinary artwork created for Russian Jewish theater productions in the 1920s and 1930s. The exhibition brings to light a remarkable period in the early years of the Soviet Union when innovative visual artists, including Marc Chagall, Natan Altman, and Robert Falk joined forces with avant-garde playwrights, actors, and theatrical producers to create a theater experience with extraordinary mass appeal. Through paintings, costume and set designs, posters, photographs, film clips and theater ephemera,  many of which have never been exhibited before, Chagall and the Artists of the Russian Jewish Theater, 1919-1949 captures an exhilarating but fleeting moment in the cultural history of the Soviet Union. The exhibition was on view at the Contemporary Jewish Museum April 23, 2009 - Sept 7, 2009.

The Audio Guide

This exhibition offered visitors the opportunity to delve deeper into the world of the Russian Jewish theater with an illuminating audio tour. The tour was guided by actor and director Liev Schreiber with special guests Susan Goodman, Senior Curator at The Jewish Museum,  theater historian Robert Marx, art historian Bella Mayer who is a granddaughter of artist Marc Chagall; and J. Hoberman, senior film critic of the Village Voice and an expert on Yiddish film. The tour also introduced actors from the National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene who performed excerpts from some of the most famous plays of the Russian Jewish Theater. We are very grateful to Zalmen Mlotek and Motl Didner for their efforts on our behalf.


This exhibition was organized by The Jewish Museum, New York and made possible by a leadership gift from Sammy and Aviva Ofer.

The San Francisco presentation is made possible by a lead grant from The Bernard Osher Jewish Philanthropies Foundation of the Jewish Community Endowment Fund and presented by Bank of America, Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, and Ruthellen and Monte Toole with additional support from the Jim Joseph Foundation, Osterweis Capital Management, Naomi and Jeffrey Caspe, Helen Diller Family Foundation, Anita Friedman and Igor Tartakovsky, Gaia Fund, Rosanne and Al Levitt, Danna and Alex Slusky, Ruth and Alan Stein, Sue and Michael Steinberg, Anita and Ron Wornick, Bloomingdale's and the Consulate General of Russia - San Francisco.

Presenting Partners:

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Lead Inaugural Year Exhibition Support:

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