Understanding Pope Francis's Surprising Affinity For Jewish Art

World's Top Catholic Worships Marc Chagall

Papal Favorite: Marc Chagall’s “White Crucifixion” depicts Jesus, wearing a tallit instead of a loincloth.
Courtesy of The Art Institute of Chicago
Papal Favorite: Marc Chagall’s “White Crucifixion” depicts Jesus, wearing a tallit instead of a loincloth.

By Menachem Wecker

Published April 08, 2013, issue of April 12, 2013.
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The painting is more about Russian history, Epstein added, but the pope’s embrace of “White Crucifixion” may signal “an identification with the suffering Jewish Jesus, which is interesting.”

Chicago’s Loyola University Museum of Art is exhibiting some of Chagall’s work in “Graven Images: Marc Chagall’s Bible Illustrations” through June 16.

“The choice of a favorite painting is always personal,” said Jonathan Canning, senior curator at the Loyola museum. Canning declined to comment specifically on the pope’s aesthetic preferences.

Although he assumes that Chagall’s works with Christian imagery are responses to commissions, Canning says that Chagall was clearly introducing a new interpretation of the crucifixion. “He’s definitely challenging someone who’s used to a traditional, Western, Christian interpretation of the crucifixion,” he said.

Menachem Wecker is a Chicago-based writer on art and religion. Find out more about him at menachemwecker.com or on Twitter @mwecker


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