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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.