This work entitled, “The White Crucifixion” was painted in 1938 by Jewish artist Marc Chagall. It hangs in the Art Institute of Chicago. I have had my students view this painting for my Intro to Religious Studies class. I think it challenges Christians (like myself, a Roman Catholic) to consider what role our elimination of Jesus’ Jewishness has played in the persistence of Anti-Semitic violence and hatred to this very day. The fullness and complexity of what Chagall is trying to depict is beyond one interpretation. But I view this as a contemporary challenge to combat the evil of Anti-Semitism. In case you’re interested, the question I asked my students is below the painting.
What is anti-Semitism? Historically, who has been the main perpetrator of violence against the Jewish people? In your opinion, why? How could this have been justified? In light of this, how do we respond to this injustice in the 21st century.
Look at the painting, “The White Crucifixion,” (1938) by Jewish artist Marc Chagall. Name three details that document aspects of Jewish life and/or history. Why are they in the painting and what do they mean?
Finally, what is your interpretation of what this painting is trying to convey?