My Homeland is Within My Soul: Art Without Borders
(Geneva, 15 June 2009) – on June 11 a groundbreaking exhibition,“My Homeland is Within My Soul, Art Without Borders: The Jewish Contribution to Art and European Culture“ opened in the company of European government officials, members of Parliament, and the diplomatic corps at the Palais Des Nations – United Nations in Geneva.
The exhibit is the first-ever public presentation of the collection of the Museum of Avant-Garde Mastery (“MAGMA”), one of the world’s most important collections of 20th Century Russian avant-garde art.
The exhibit features original works by internationally-recognized Jewish art masters, especially Russian Jews, including Chagall, Rothko, Soutine and others, to art and society.
Through the works themselves, the exhibit aims to promote tolerance and cultural values in contemporary society. Underlying this, the venue for the exhibit launch was purposely chosen as the Palais de Nations/the United Nations – the heart of European diplomacy and worldwide symbol of efforts to foster a tolerant atmosphere.
The art and artworks featured by the Museum and the exhibit focus on the concept of “Art without borders” – the power of free expression of ideas, possible only in the atmosphere of tolerance, understanding and mutual respect among people of various nationalities and backgrounds.
In introducing the exhibit, Dr. Moshe Kantor, Chairman and Founder of MAGMA and President of the European Jewish Congress explained, “While the artists’ names are well-known, the aim of the collection is unique. There was a deliberate effort to select artists that promote the role of culture in forming a tolerant society, with special attention paid to highlighting cultural interaction and the important contributions and influence of outstanding Jewish artists to world culture.”
Kantor continued, “The approach to the entire collection is the concept of a tolerant society and it shows this simple duality – that tolerance encourages the development of arts and that the arts can illustrate and communicate tolerance unlike any other medium.”
The exhibition was organized with the support of the Director-General of the UN Office at Geneva and the Russian Embassy in Switzerland. It has become an illustrative example of efficient cooperation between art and diplomacy.
During a press conference unveiling the exhibit, MAGMA Museum Founder Kantor announced that the exhibit would travel to other countries. “This exhibition beautifully demonstrates the extraordinary contribution of Jews to European art and culture,” Kantor noted. He continued, “Chagall himself famously noted that ‘If I were not a Jew…I wouldn’t have been an artist’, yet few truly understood that his brush was guided by his strong Jewish identity.” “We hope that the works on display by internationally-recognized masters will inspire tolerance and understanding while also encouraging our youth to take pride in their Jewish roots which many of these artists demonstrated through the medium of art.”
The exhibit features 40 artworks, inter alia, by such masters as Mark Chagall, Chaim Soutine, Amedeo Modigliani, Mark Rothko, Leon Bakst, Alexander Tyshler, Jacques Lipchitz, Viktor Pivovarov, Ilya Kabakov, Erik Bulatov, Solomon Telingater, David Shterenberg, and other important Jewish artists who have made a lasting contribution to world art and culture.