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This book draws a comparison between two of the most prominent Jewish artists in the twentieth-century: Polish-born magician story-teller Isaac Bashevis-Singer (1904-1991) and Russian-born creator of visual magic Marc Chagall (1887-1985). In addition to their East European Jewish background both were exposed to Western culture. Chagall absorbed such turn-of-the-century avant-garde styles as Expressionism, Fauvism, Cubism, Abstract Art, Surrealism; from these he created a unique blend, to which he brought the various Russian influences he had absorbed and his own special highly imaginative and inventive personal style. Bashevis-Singer brought to his works philosophical, psychological, scientific, medical and legal knowledge. While both artists were affected by these Western influences, they remained firmly entrenched within the Jewish culture -- the Yiddish language and life in the "shtetl" -- from which they drew their inspiration. Their world consisted of a special blend of reality and dream, realism and fantasy. Ruth Dorot demonstrates that they shared, albeit unwittingly, a common "meta-realistic" style combining the earthly with the supernatural and the transcendental. Their works allude to real place names, dates, facts and historical events; but at the same time contain occult forces, angels, demons, mysticism and mystery. Comparisons range over the Jewish "shtetl", Jewish artists, Love and Despair, the Holocaust and war, religion and mysticism. In the works of both artists, hope springs eternal; it is a hope emanating from the mystical realm of life as it relates to the magic of creation and the cosmic logic of the Creator. Artist and story-teller sail between hard-core reality and the yearning for redemption, between Judaism and universal values, between exile and revelation.
Sussex Academic Press
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