Chagall and the Artists of the Russian Jewish Theater


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Susan Goodman, with essays by Zvi Gitelman, Vladislav Ivanov, Jeffrey Veidlinger, and Benjamin Harshav

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A journey into a time of astounding innovation on the stage

Shortly after the Bolshevik Revolution, Soviet Jewish theaters became catalysts for modernist experimentation. Working with avant-garde playwrights, actors, and producers in a new political environment, artists such as Marc Chagall, Natan Altman, Robert Falk, and Aleksandr Tyshler combined Russian folk art with elements of Cubo-Futurism and Constructivism into a bold new style. This collaboration gave rise to extraordinary productions with highly original stage designs that redefined the concept of theater itself.

From the Jewish mythical and folkloric plays produced at Habima to the daring, expressionistic Yiddish dramas presented at the Moscow State Yiddish Theater (GOSET), this beautifully illustrated book chronicles the flourishing of Soviet Jewish theater in the 1920s and 1930s. Spanning such topics as Jewish culture and history in the Soviet Union, the volume includes stunning reproductions of Chagall’s celebrated theater murals; fascinating archival materials such as posters, prints, and playbills; designs for costumes and sets; and many other breathtaking works.

Published in association with The Jewish Museum, New York

Exhibition Schedule:

The Jewish Museum, New York (November 9, 2008 – March 22, 2009)  

Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco (April 25 – September 7, 2009)    

Susan Tumarkin Goodman is senior curator at The Jewish Museum. Her books include Marc Chagall: Early Works from Russian Collections and The Emergence of Jewish Artists in Nineteenth-Century Europe.


The Jewish Museum, New York (November 9, 2008 – March 22, 2009)  

Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco (April 25 – September 7, 2009)    

"The present volume . . . is most impressive. It comprises an informative introduction by Goodman and four meticulous essays by eminent scholars. . . . No more informative or attractive book could possibly grace a library's collection or a coffee table. Highly recommended."—Choice

“…this beautifully illustrated book, of little known material, gives a powerful sense of the sheer visual and theatrical spectacle…” - Keith Richmond, Tribune

"Excellent. . . . First-rate essays . . . introduce more than 200 colorful illustrations which beautifully demonstrate the creativity of the Jewish artists who brilliantly used their avant-garde competence to complement the experimental stage productions."—Morton I. Teicher, Buffalo Jewish Review

‘The catalogue’s extensive visual documentation of each play provides an invaluable and comprehensive view of the innovations in set and costume design over this exciting period, making this an indispensable volume for anyone seriously interested in twentieth-century theatrical design.’ — Christina Lodder, Burlington Magazine, 1st February 2010

Winner of the 2009 Barnard Hewitt Award for Outstanding Research in Theatre History, given by The American Society for Theatre Research.

Finalist in the 2010 National Jewish Book Award in the Visual Arts Category sponsored by the Jewish Book Council
ISBN: 9780300111552
Publication Date: November 25, 2008
Publishing Partner: Published in association with The Jewish Museum, New York
256 pages, 8 3/4 x 11 1/4
84 b/w + 146 color illus.
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