On March 17, 2019 the academic director of the International Yiddish Center at the World Jewish Congress, Dr. Mordechay Yushkovsky, provided a lecture "Mark Chagall – the painter who paints in Yiddish" at the Museum of Modern Art in Odessa.
About 50 artists, gallerists, teachers, faculty members and students of Odessa State University attended the lecture, enhancing their knowledge about both the great painter and the Yiddish culture.
This event was the first one from a cycle of lectures, devoted to Jewish/ Yiddish culture and intended for experts of art and public in general, who are interested in art at all and Jewish art in particular.
Dr. Yushkovsky's lecture presented a completely new approach to the works of one of the leading artists of the 20th century. The scholar's main postulate is that it is impossible to understand Chagall's painting isolated from Jewish oral culture, folklore, cultural and religious traditions and modern literature in Yiddish language.
Few people in the audience seem to have been aware of the fact that Mark Chagall wrote poems in Yiddish and illustrated Yiddish books. A lot of his paintings are filled with motives of Yiddish literature. Moreover, Chagall included illustrations of Yiddish proverbs and sayings into his own paintings. He made friends with outstanding poets and writers, who created in Yiddish.The lecture got rousing reception of the audience, which was accompanied by lots of inquiries, thanks and wishes.