The Mary Livermore Library Special Collections at UNC Pembroke is now home to a unique collection representing the life and work of the French-Russian artist Marc Chagall.
The collection contains books, exhibition catalogs, articles, special letters, photos, and media donated by Vivian R. Jacobson, a Pinehurst resident and international lecturer, author and historian on the artist.
Jacobson worked closely with the famed Jewish artist in the last 11 years of his life when she lived in Chicago. Her vision for the Jacobson Chagall Art Research Collection is to share Chagall’s message of hope, peace, reconciliation and love.
“He was a great person who brought so much happiness to people through his artwork,” said Jacobson, who turned 86 in October. “My hope is this collection will be seen as a research center on the life and art of Marc Chagall. I’ve researched in New York, France, Israel and Germany and I’ve always had this desire to have my research open to the public.”
The collection represents more than 30 years of her research, including her work as a founding member of the American Friends of Chagall’s Biblical Message Museum in France, chair of the Chagall Tapestry Project in Chicago and author of Sharing Chagall: A Memoir.
She also donated a signed lithograph of ‘L’Échelle de Jacob” which will be hung in Special Collections.
“Every piece of the collection is very meaningful to me. I like Chagall’s artwork but liked him more as a person.”
The 20th-century artist was known for his distinct abstract style of dream-like figurative and narrative art that explored his Jewish identity and life in Russia.
Jacobson has been lecturing on Chagall since 1978 and has presented in 22 states and Europe and Israel. She was a Chagall speaker for the North Carolina Humanities Council from 2001 to 2019. She gave a lecture at UNCP in 2016 after receiving a special invitation from Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings and his wife, Rebecca. They became close friends after Cummings, a former heart surgeon in Pinehurst, operated on her late husband, Ralph, in 1995. The couple recently established a scholarship at UNCP.
“Contributions like the Jacobson Chagall Art Research Collection are critical in our mission to promote research at our university,” Cummings said.
“It brings a new perspective to our Special Collections unit, and I’m appreciative of the resources we are able to add for our university community to enjoy and study. I know how much this unique collection means to Vivian and the time invested both by her and Chagall. We’re grateful for Vivian and Ralph’s continued support and honored they thought of UNCP when looking to donate such a meaningful collection,” Cummings added.
“In the last year, Ralph and I had been talking about what I should do with the Chagall collection, and without blinking an eye, Ralph said, let it go to UNCP.’ Pinehurst is about an hour from Pembroke, so it will be easy to visit. The idea of giving the collection to UNCP is certainly one of the best decisions we’ve made.”
Jessica Collogan, dean of Library Sciences, said making the Chagall collection available for students to use and connect with their academic studies is a great opportunity to expand unique research collections within the Mary Livermore Library.
“Our special collections are made accessible for the public to search online through digitization, finding aids, and the special collection website. It is my hope to expand the knowledge of these unique items through accessibility for everyone, as the collections grow in the future,” Collogan added.
A formal opening is being planned for the Fall of 2022. The Jacobson Chagall Art Research Collection can be accessed online here.
Feature photo: Willie Giles, left, Steve Varley, Vivian R. Jacobson, Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings, Carla Rokes, BreAnna Branch and June Power. Jacobson is delivering her collection of research on Chagall, collected over the last 40 years.