Homage to the Ecole de Vitebsk

About the project: Foreword by Inna Rogatchi

Michael Rogatchi (C). Champs Elysees I. Homage to Marc Chagall. Oil on canvas. 90 x 60 cm. 1994. The Rogatchi Art Collection.

In the beginning of the 20th century, the myriad of superbly talented Jewish youth from the western part of the Russian Empire has moved to Paris, in order to become a free artists. They has become the creme a la creme, a shining example and the pride of the world culture despite many tragedies they had to experienced in their very uneasy lives.

Their life in Paris was not easy, despite being extremely rich artistically-wise. They were poor, they were strangers, they were different. They were not ‘connected’  in high society. The very title Ecole de Paris which we are using now without any prejudice, initially was something close to diminishing and contempt, as  I wrote in my previous works on the Ecole de Paris and its Jewish artists which were a majority of it.  

They counter-balanced envy and sometimes snobbish hostility towards them by their organic immense talent, their natural-born wit, but  most of all by generously putting their open heart into every sketch, drawing, painting and sculpture coming from them. This is additionally to unrestricted freedom of expression which was outpouring in their works. 

Inna Rogatchi (C). From the Chagall Window. Watercolour, wax pastel, oil pastel, lapice pastel on authored original pigment print on acquarelle cotton paper. 60 x 45 cm. 2023. Private collection, Lithuania.

It always was Ecole de Vitebsk, in the most revered sense of the term, both for those tens of great Jewish artists from Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine and Belarus, for their public and for the art critics and other professionals as well. Being privileged to be a wife of a good artist of the Litvak origin, and having the same origin myself, it felt only natural for me to work on this special project of comparative art studies and analyses, which was prompted to a serious degree by special exhibition of Litvak Artists in Paris Vilnius at the Lithuanian National Museum of Art ( May – September 2023), but which goes wider then the exhibition in question.

There is nothing closer to my heart in the world of art history than those artists, aged as my grandparents, so I can feel and understand them and their world quite closely and authentically, and coming from the same parts of the world as mine and my husband’s families came from. I have a family-like feeling to each and every of them in particular, and to all of them as a group sharing an immense talent, but most and foremost, that Jewish heart, wise, vulnerable, fine, with melancholy and humour in the same proportion, with our all common memory, and everyone’s personal detailed memory amalgamated in the Jewish narrative of the modern art of the 20th century.  

Inna Rogatchi (C). Summer Memories. Homage to Michel Kikoine. Homage to the Ecole de Vitebsk. Watercolour, oil pastel, wax pastel, Luminance Caran d’Ache, lapice pastel on authored original pigment print on cotton paper. 60 x 60 cm. 2023.

In this project, I will look closer to a certain artworks of these close to me great Jewish artists of the Ecole de Paris, or Ecole de Vitebsk, actually, and will be happy to share my analysis with me audience.