Posts Tagged ‘Marc Chagall’

What a terrific show at the Caumont Centre d’Art in Aix.  It features the work of Marc Chagall, from his black and white gravures from the 1920s and 30s, via his white marble sculptures, to his joyously colourful gouaches and oil paintings. (more…)

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There is currently an exhibition in Marseille to celebrate the bravery of Varian Fry (1907-1967), an American journalist who helped over 2000 anti-Nazi refugees, Jews and non-Jews, escape from France.  

After Germany invaded France in June 1940, the Emergency Rescue Committee, a private American relief organization, sent Fry to France to aid anti-Nazi refugees who were in danger of being arrested by the Gestapo. In Marseille, his team forged documents and hurried people to clandestine escape routes, usually the Pyrenees.

He offered aid to refugees threatened with extradition to Nazi Germany – there was a list of wanted intellectuals – and he dedicated himself their rescue over his 13 months in France.  This included Marc Chagall, Max Ernst, André Breton and Heinrich Mann. His covert activities angered both the U.S. State Department and Vichy France and in September 1941, he was expelled from France.

In Villa Air-Bel, Canadian author Rosemary Sullivan describes the old house to the east of Marseille acquired by Fry as a place of sanctuary for refugees.  It became a centre for creativity for the artists but the book also describes the terror and physical privations suffered by these desperate people who arrived in Marseille with nothing, fleeing for their lives.

Shortly before Fry’s death, the French government awarded him the Croix de Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur, the only official recognition he received in his lifetime. In 1991, the US  Holocaust Memorial Council awarded him the Eisenhower Liberation Medal and in 1994 he was honored by Yad Vashem as a “Righteous Among the Nations”.

The Villa Air-Bel was demolished in 1970 and replaced by a complex of 1,165 apartments to house recent immigrants, mainly from North Africa.

Details: Varian Fry, Un Monde en Exil, Centre Régional de Documentation Pédagogique, 31 boulevard d’Athenes, Marseille.  (Very close to Gare St Charles). Until 9th Dec.



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