1: Oil painting, Marc Chagall's “The Revolution,” 1937.
Marc Chagall (1887-1985) was born and began painting near Vitebsk, now in Belarus. He portrayed a changing landscape of the Jewish Pale of Settlement using modernist techniques similar to those Isaac Babel used in his short fiction.
Suggested Activity: Present this image to students as an example of visual modernism. Ask students to describe the colors they see. Then ask them to discuss the emotions portrayed in the painting and to give justification for their responses. Ask students to identify the colors in “My First Goose,” the images of exaggerated movements (acrobatics, etc.), and the conflicting images of happiness and sadness. Point out the images of Revolutionary celebration (e.g., red flags, man doing a handstand who looks like Lenin, musical instruments). Follow this by asking them to point out the images of violence (e.g., rifles, smoky air, injured people). Finally, ask them to identify images of sadness and mourning (e.g., man holding a Torah with his head in his hands, gravestones, boy sitting shiva). Ask them how this modernist portrayal of revolution might convey the spirit of the times in ways that a photograph could not. Discuss how Isaac Babel is working in similar ways with his Red Cavalry stories: he is "painting a portrait" of combined emotions about war and revolution.
Sources: Marc Chagall, “The Revolution,” 1937. Collection Centre Pompidou, https://www.marcchagall.net/the-revolution.jsp