Art, Memory and Humanity. Returning the Forgotten Artist, 2019. Outreach to Humanity series of projects
Ecole the Vitebsk and Its Ongoing Echo can be called the second Act of the previous Michael Rogatchi and The Rogatchi Foundation projects on Art as an Act of Memory. It has to do with support of the special research on the forgotten artists from the Ecole de Paris, many if not most of them murdered or perished in Holocaust, and developing Michael’s own concept and research on the subject.
The project was conducted initially at the International School of the Holocaust Studies at the University of Haifa ( 2017-2018), and then continued as independent research supported by the family of very significant collector Dr Oscar Ghetz, namely his son, prof. Claude Getz from New York ( Columbia University, 2018). Dr Oscar Ghetz saved tens if not hundreds of unique art works by perished artists thus preventing them from total oblivion.
Unfortunately, not very much had been done with that incredible material until recent years when the interest towards the murdered artists from the Ecole de Paris was rekindled. That re-born interest provided an opportunity to do something real in the matter of return a very good forgotten artist to the wide public, and also to remain widely on the rest of the exceptionally talented and utterly mistreated artists from Ecole de Paris, the cause which is close to Michael’s heart.
Within the framework of The Rogatchi Foundation Art, Memory and Humanism , the one of its Outreach to Humanity projects, Michael has addressed the project and contributed to that in multiplies ways: he did coin the name Ecole de Vitebsk ( instead of Ecole de Paris which was used with a derogatory meaning towards the artists from the group in 1930s and 1940s in France) making the connection of the artists from the famous group to the place of their origin, Vitebsk is the city in Belorussia where Marc Chagall was born and which he always kept in his heart. Michael also created a special image, Ecole de Vitebsk, as the symbol for the group, with their romantic love for Paris and France and the stimulus for their incredible creativity, and with their inner belonging to the world of shtetls in Eastern and Central Europe, at the same time. The symbolic image has later become the theme for The Rogatchi Foundation special Art Award for the conductors of the project for returning the forgotten artists back to life.
Michael also has made a special research as an art historian on the theme which he presented as Ecole de Vitebsk and its Ongong Echo paper at the Art and Humanism international symposium at the Tel-Aviv University in summer 2019. In this paper, Michael was examining the sources of the inspiration and creativity for Marc Chagall and some other ket artists from Ecole de Paris from the angle of their never interrupted inner connection with the world of their origin, Jewish shtetls of Eastern and Central Europe, and culture they were brought in and which they opted to preserve as their grateful memory, their connection with their families which had been interrupted and severed in reality, and the tissue of their inner world which was the source of their art works many years and decades after they have left their shtetls.
In his paper, Michael also analysed how the devotion and belonging to their people among the great artists from the Ecole de Paris did effect many artists in following generations, himself including. He did demonstrate it in a comparative study of the works by the artists from the Ecole de Vitebsk and the artists who were and are working in the similar style until today.
The purpose of this ongoing project is to tell about interest inner details of life and creative process of the big masters, and also to ensure the humanistic side of their heritage for the wide public.
The project includes publications, lectures, Q&A, Artist’ Talks, panels, and other possible forms.