Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Chagall: The Pinch of Snuff

The Pinch of Snuff
Marc Chagall

For the benefit of readers who might have been unable to access the Basel Kunstmuseum's painting, here it is above, and as I noted yesterday, the 'illusion' of two left hands is even more visible in this version from 1923-26 than in the 1912 version! Is this mere chance, random accident?

This painting is also the version whose print poster hung on the wall of my off-campus, Waco room in Speight House, a room-and-board place near Baylor managed by a woman whose name actually was none other than "Buena Vista Verona"! We called her Mrs. V., and she was a tough-talking soft-hearted lady who liked me even though I had long hair and a beard -- I think she figured out pretty quickly that I wasn't so much hippie as hillbilly, a wild man who played basketball barefooted because I could dunk better, but also struggled to become an intellectual by intently staring at a Chagall print in hope of absorbing some culture . . .

And here I am, still trying to figure out Marc Chagall's elusive rabbi . . .

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At 3:06 PM, Blogger ilTassista Marino said...

Yes, here the Rabbi definitely has two left hands. And now a conversation with an orthodox Jew who was an expert of Judaism, precisely with reference to a personage painted by Chagall, comes back to my mind. He said that the left hand (as in other cultures, anyway) was a symbol of wrong behavior. But this makes things even more puzzling, because Chagall could hardly mean to give this picture a negative meaning. "On the other hand," this symbol didn't work with that other picture either (it showed Abraham!), so Chagall possibly didn't care about THIS kind of rabbinic teachings at all, even in portraying a Rabbi.

At 3:39 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Perhaps Chagall didn't like Orthodox Judaism . . . or was against snuff?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 4:04 PM, Blogger ilTassista Marino said...

Chagall might not be very orthodox, but he had, and offered, deep insights into Judaism. "On the other hand," Judaism, much more than Christianity, promotes the use of wit, even humor in reinterpreting Scriptures. (Unless you are a guy like Horace Jeffery Hodges, I mean.) That's "beyond Subproc"! -- as I am being asked to type so as to prove I'm not a robot.

At 4:10 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Must be the snuff, then . . . he didn't like left-handed smokeless tobacco!

When I worked with a surveying team way back in the mid-70s, one of the men offered me some chewing tobacco. I declined, saying, "No thanks, I don't even chew horsesh*t."

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I happen to own the original gouache, the one depicted on the MMOMA Arts website. Although the Rabbi's two left hands are intriguing, in the version I have, I'm more interested in the odd subject that appears to be over painted on the table top beneath the Rabbi's true left hand. It's always been a mystery to me. One that I will perhaps never solve.

At 8:14 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks for the new mystery, and for stopping by.

Jeffery Hodges

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