Art Spiegelman and Marc Chagall Exhibitions at The Jewish Museum

Art Spiegelman famous Maus, a black and white piece with mice hearing working hats, on display at the Jewish Museum in NYC

January is always a great cultural catch-up month for me, when I can finally get to some of the movies, books, and art shows I missed during the social whirlwind of the holiday season. So far I've seen The Brooklyn Museum's exhibitions and MAD Museum's 3D Printing display, as well as a pair of first-rate exhibitions currently at the Jewish Museum on the Upper East Side.

One exhibition is a career-spanning celebration of (personal favorite) Art Spiegelman and the other a large-scale show of Marc Chagall's work from the 1930s and '40s, entitled: Love, War, and Exile. Both are eye-opening, instantly engaging, and designed to please a broad spectrum of art enthusiasts.

A self portrait of Art Spiegelman in his famous sketch and comic book art style

Art Spiegelman Artwork

The artist's best known work is, of course, the brilliant two-volume graphic novel Maus, which recounts his parents' survival of the Holocaust. The Jewish Museum has the entire original manuscript on display, often combined with sketches, rough drafts, and edits. Spiegelman has had a prolific, wide-ranging career beyond Maus as well, including:

  • Lots of lusty, raucous work for various underground comics in the '60s and '70s
  • His (slightly) more sophisticated work for RAW, the "avant-garde" magazine he co-founded in the 1980s
  • A couple of dozen, now-iconic cover illustrations for the New Yorker

Among many other pieces, Spiegelman was also the art director of the original Wacky Packs, and the original Garbage Pail Kids! How cool is that?

At The Jewish Museum Art Spiegelman has on display his artwork done for Wacky Packages and Garbage Pail Kids

Marc Chagall Exhibition

Also at the Jewish Museum is a nicely-focused look at the work of Marc Chagall during his exile years (first in Paris, then in New York) as he fled the the rise of fascism and the war. All of the familiar Chagall themes and aesthetics are within the exhibition: the soaring animals, the various characters, the deep, colorful tones. For the first time, however, I noticed just how often Chagall puts Christian imagery in his work, especially the Crucifixion, which it seems the artist used to symbolize the persecution and suffering of an entire continent during the Second World War. In 1944, Chagall's beloved wife Bella died suddenly, and most of his later works in this exhibition show him grappling with his own personal devastation. Powerful stuff.

At The Jewish Museum Marc Chagall has on display his artwork done during his exile years

More Information: The Jewish Museum Exhibitions

The Art Spiegelman exhibition will be at The Jewish Museum through March 23; the Chagall through February 2. The Jewish Museum is located on Fifth Avenue and 92nd Street, and is open on Saturday through Tuesday from 11:00 a.m. until 5:45 p.m., on Thursdays until 8:00, and on Friday until 4:00. Closed Wednesdays. Admission is free all day every Saturday.

Marc Chagall has on display in a beautiful frame, this painting of him and his wife and a big red bird

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