‪ ‪ The Story Behind the Project - Chagall in IsraelChagall in Israel

The Story Behind the Project

“Interwoven Destinies: Marc Chagall and David Rubinger in Jerusalem”

In memory of Marc Chagall and as a special 30 years’ commemoration of his passing, Jerusalem Publishing Atelier is proud to publish, for the first time ever, a rare art collection based on the up-close and personal pictures of Marc Chagall, captured by Israel’s legendary photographer, David Rubinger, as he followed the Jewish master artist during his visits to Jerusalem during the 1960’s and 1970’s while working and completing his masterpiece for the Israeli Knesset.”

This momentous offering will allow a fortunate few to become a part of this history, celebrating both Marc Chagall whose artwork needs no introduction, and David Rubinger whose award-winning photograph of the three paratroopers immortalized at the Western Wall in Jerusalem as the 1967 war came to an end, is instantly recognizable.

It is a remarkable opportunity to be part of history: the history of art, the personal history of two masters in their respective fields, and the long history of the Holy City of Jerusalem.

This project was born through a mix of luck, curiosity and destiny. Jerusalem Publishing Atelier was in the final stages of the printing and publishing of their Dead Sea Scrolls Prints project and Ram Glick, one of JPA’s founding members, was searching for additional information about the scrolls.

Ram recalls: “Through a very lucky click of the mouse, I came across an old photo of one of my favorite Fine Art Masters, inspecting one of the Dead Sea Scrolls fragments. That Master, was the Great Marc Chagall.” “Being an extremely curious person, I looked for the source of this photo, hoping to uncover what I indeed eventually found: a file with photos of Marc Chagall during his visits to Israel and the Holy City of Jerusalem. The majority of these very rare and mostly never seen before photos were depicting Chagall’s visits in the 1960’s and 1970’s while working on his Masterpieces for the Israeli Knesset and the Hadassah University Medical Center. I immediately approached Yair Medina, the owner and CEO of the JPA studio and my partner in the Dead Sea Scrolls Prints project, and Yair informed me that, not only were these photos what I thought they were, they were also taken by one of Yair’s oldest friends and a studio client, Israel’s legendary photographer, David Rubinger.” “So, here I was thinking to myself, is this destiny or what? The date was August 2014, and as an avid Chagall fan and follower having given over 50 art history lectures about Chagall around the world, and having sold over 100 original Chagall prints over my art career, I vaguely remembered that Chagall passed away almost 30 years ago. Wasn’t the 30th anniversary of his death approaching? A quick look into his biography confirmed my recollection, as Chagall had indeed passed away on March 28, 1985.”

Marc Chagall in Israel

Marc Chagall’s love story with the State of Israel began in 1930, before its inception, when Ambroise Vollard, one of the most important art dealers of his time, commissioned him to undertake a series of illustrations of the Bible. Chagall first arrived in then-Palestine in February 1931 and ended up staying for two months. According to Jacob Baal-Teshuva, “he was impressed by the pioneering spirit of the people in the kibbutzim and deeply moved by the Wailing Wall and the other Holy Places”. Chagall traveled a great deal, painting and drawing in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Safed. The country left a vivid impression on him, and once back in Paris, the views and visions he had experienced in the Holy Land were echoed in many of The Bible etchings.

“I did not see the Bible, I dreamed it. Ever since early childhood, I have been captivated by the Bible. It has always seemed to me and still seems today the greatest source of poetry of all time”, wrote Chagall.

In 1951, the opening of large retrospective exhibitions of his works in Jerusalem, Haifa and Tel Aviv, prompted Chagall’s second visit, and in 1957, he was again in Israel following the publication of his illustrations to the Bible. The inauguration of his iconic 12 stained-glass windows for the synagogue of the Hebrew University’s Hadassah Medical School in Jerusalem in 1962 brought Chagall to Israel once again. The stained glass windows representing the 12 Sons of Jacob from whom descended the 12 Tribes of Israel and located in the synagogue of the Hadassah Hebrew University Medical Centre in Ein Karem, Jerusalem, were dedicated on February 6, 1962. (Source – Israeli ministry of foreign affairs) “All the time I was working, I felt my mother and father looking over my shoulder; and behind them were Jews, millions of other vanished Jews — of yesterday and a thousand years ago,” – Marc Chagall, February 6, 1962. The synagogue’s floor and walls made of warm Jerusalem stone simultaneously absorb and reflect the windows’ beauty, imbuing the entire space with an ethereal light. Standing within the simple square that forms the pedestal for the windows, gazing up at the vivid imagery, the Jewish symbols, the floating figures of animals, fish and flowers, even the most casual viewer is overwhelmed by their power and presence.

“This is my modest gift to the Jewish people who have always dreamt of biblical love, friendship and of peace among all peoples. This is my gift to that people which lived here thousands of years ago among the other Semitic people.” Marc Chagall, February 6, 1962

A year later, Chagall was back in Israel in order to discuss the iconographic themes for a large-scale decoration for the new Knesset building. The then-Speaker of the Knesset, Kadish Luz, called on Marc Chagall in 1960 and requested that he provide the artwork for the future, permanent Knesset building. Luz proposed that he create murals or works of stained glass, as he had created for the synagogue at the Hadassah Hospital. Chagall, however, wanted to try to create tapestries, even though he had never done so before and his style of painting was not an easy one to render into wall tapestries. Kadish Luz nevertheless agreed, providing him with passages from the Bible which Chagall worked into his drawings which became the Gobelins, hanging today in the Israeli parliament building, the Knesset. (Source – Israeli ministry of foreign affairs & Israel Knesset) With the formal unveiling of the Gobelins taking place in the presence of the President of the State, Zalman Shazar, for Chagall, this was an opportunity to express his interpretation of the entire history of his people, and its focal point – the Land of Israel and Jerusalem. Upon the completion of the work in 1969, Chagall declared: “I have visited this land many times and each meeting with it deepened in me my ties to it, so that I wished to leave here some sign of this bond…. Now I and my creations have entered the Parliament of Jerusalem, the Knesset – in its hall, on its walls and floor….. Thus I became close to the land…. I felt as though I had been born anew. No longer am I as I was.” (Source – Israeli ministry of foreign affairs) Marc Chagall last visited Israel in October, 1977, when he was 90 years old. During this final trip he accepted two distinguished honors. The city of Jerusalem conferred on him the title “Worthy of Jerusalem,” and the Weizmann Institute of Science awarded him an honorary doctorate. (Source – Israeli ministry of foreign affairs) Chagall’s love story with the State of Israel began in 1931, and this love story remains and forever will be considered as one of the strongest bonds between an individual and his beloved people and country.

As Jews and citizens of Israel, we at Jerusalem Publishing Atelier, couldn’t be prouder to have the opportunity to prepare this unique project reflecting Chagall’s work, life, and influence on so many people worldwide, and all of us in the State of Israel.

Meet David Rubinger


David Rubinger (born in 1924 in Vienna, Austria) is an Israeli photographer and legend in and of himself. His instantly-recognizable photo of three Israeli paratroopers after the recapture of the Western Wall in the Six-Day War has become a defining image in the history of Israel and the Jewish nation. Shimon Peres called Rubinger “the photographer of the Nation-in-the-Making”. A Time–Life’s primary photographer for the region, Rubinger was also awarded the” Israel Prize” in communications — photography, becoming the first photographer to receive the award. David is not just a legend. David is part of history, the history of the State of Israel, from its inception till today, as he captures the heart and history of the people of Israel through his eyes and camera lenses. Visiting David’s home in the heart of the Holy City can best be described as “going back in time”. David’s home is a combination of a museum, a shrine, and an archive of the past 60 years of the Holy Land. The walls are completely covered – with almost no space in between – by photos he has taken documenting some of the most defining events in the short history of the State of Israel, as well as no-less-powerful images of the important yet “simple” people who are interwoven into this rich fabric of history. 

As Ram writes: “Recently, I was fortunate enough to spend two whole hours with David, going through that history. An intimate conversation between a legend and myself, a man who traveled the world half of his life, talking of, thinking about, and yearning to be back home. Two very special hours, undisturbed, not by phones, emails, facebook or other people, just the legend and his admirer, “visiting” some of the pictures on the wall and the untold stories behind them, stories that became a part of history. I was very lucky to travel the world most of my adult life and be a part of the international art scene, visiting leading museums, meeting fantastic artists, and befriending true art and history lovers from all walks of life. And all this led me to this amazing house in the heart of Jerusalem and two of the most truly unforgettable hours of my life.”

A Solid Financial Value

The Chagall-Rubinger project is a unique opportunity to combine the love for art, history and Jerusalem, with a solid financial value, as a limited-edition of museum quality prints portraying never-before-released collection of images of Marc Chagall at work and traveling in Jerusalem in the 1960’s and 70’s. The distinctiveness of the offering – and its clear connection to the land of the bible – is of inherent value in and of itself. The value of the exceptional-quality prints is further magnified by the hand-written signature of David Rubinger, a world-renowned photographer and artists of his own right.