Marc Chagall

La fuite: coq et bouc au dessus du village possesses an extensive exhibition history, epitomising the work’s universally appealing qualities. In 1943, when Chagall returned to New York, he grew increasingly engaged with current affairs. During this time, a particular piece of news profoundly distressed him – the brutal destruction of his hometown, Vitebsk, during Operation Barbarossa. In La fuite: coq et bouc au dessus du village, one can discern this devastation through the orange glow on the horizon, where the flames vividly illuminate the night scene.
In an act of religious defiance, the church is the only building spotlighted, embodying a theme of religious fortitude that persists throughout the work. Where the flames would be expected to appear, they are replaced by a cockerel and a goat. The cockerel, often associated with Chagall, symbolises his own personal identity and resilience. The goat also carries profound symbolic weight, being a crucial element in Jewish sacrifices. However, Chagall frequently employed it to represent the harsh treatment of Jews in Russia and Europe, particularly during the Holocaust.

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