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The White Crucifixion by Michael Dean

The White Crucifixion

by Michael Dean

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951,493,643 (3.79)4
Fiction. Art. Jewish Studies. 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 (Ecole 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. 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 rollercoaster life of one of the most enigmatic artists of the twentieth century.… (more)



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Showing 5 of 5
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
As the subtitle says, this is a novel about Marc Chagall—it follows him from childhood in Vitebsk to artist years in Paris, back to Vitebsk where he's stuck in 1914 and where, eventually after the Bolshevik revolution, he becomes the director of the Vitebsk art school, and finally back to Paris and his art. I didn't know much about Chagall beyond his name before reading this book, but followed the story well enough and enjoyed the descriptions of the art and specific works. ( )
  queen_ypolita | Jan 31, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I found this hard to follow without at least some images of the pictures described. Eventually I stopped caring. I really never got the feeling that I was gaining any insights into Chagall's work. ( )
  MarthaJeanne | Jan 11, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Reading this was an intense submersion in being Chagall (as researched and imagined by the author). I initially felt embarrassed as a voyeur but I was so enthralled with the experience I lost myself. The character descriptions and choice of content were impeccable. I received this as a LibraryThing Early Reviewer. Thank you. ( )
  BridgitDavis | Dec 11, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This fictional biography of Marc Chagall is written in a style that mimics his paintings, full of life, vitality, and enmeshed in the Jewish tradition. A peak at some of his fellow painters and sculptors added to the intrigue. ( )
  snash | Dec 10, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Vitebsk, Belarus: A Jewish son of a herring schlepper starts out become one of the most famous painter of the 20th century.

'The White Crucifixion' narrates his way to his artistic apogee in the Parisian art colony 'The Hive' and his shocking encounters with the 'Suprematist people' back home - the communist myrmidons with their disgusting idealism of communal life and communal thinking - and later the pogroms initiated by the incoming Nazi troops of Germany.

The book, not always that easy to read, depicts Chagall as a painter deeply immersed in his Jewish tradition eternalizing it with passion and originality on to canvas. It shows us a man totally devoted to his genius and unalterable in his choice of colours.

It's a book that makes you pause for a while.
So, four stars. ( )
  viennamax | Dec 7, 2017 |
Showing 5 of 5
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