Marc Chagall, Les Fiances De La Tour Eiffel
The magic of Marc Chagall is in the images of childhood memories that float through many of his works. Untainted by acquaintance with modern experiments, Chagall's work is honest and direct in its revelation of the artist's character. We know him to have been a gentle, caring and passionate lover - the timeless image of himself and his beloved Bella in The Birthday (1915) sends our heart soaring to float with him on a cloud of ecstasy. We are sure of his devout relationship with his Jewish faith - numerous Chagall works draw on Jewish symbolism and reference Judaism including stained-glass masterpieces like The Twelve Tribes of Israel (1960-62); and we know that his heart was eternally connected to his childhood home of Vitebsk - nostalgic images of this small provincial ghetto in Russia are the backdrop to many of Chagall's best known works such as I and the Village (1911) a painting in which clear Cubist influences fracture the picture plane like a stained-glass window, and an atmosphere of fantasy envelops us as dreamlike images seem to float above the ground, dispensing with the conventions of space and perspective.
If we are to learn about Mark Chagall and his art we must look to his relationship with his childhood home town. Chagall himself stated in his autobiography 'The soil that nourished the roots of my art was Vitebsk'. When he entered this world on July 7, 1887 almost half of Vitebsk's inhabitants were Jewish and the Chagalls were devout Hassidic Jews. There were ten children in the family fed on the meagre wages of Chagall's father who was a fishmonger's assistant. Despite this obvious poverty Chagall never went hungry and his childhood was happily filled with rich experiences of the surrounding rural countryside, suburban blocks with small wooden houses and backyards filled with children and animals. He learned the violin and was given singing lessons and from an early age he drew and wrote poetry.
Against his parent's wishes Chagall decided that he wanted to pursue his passion to be an artist. In Vitebsk, however, he was suffocated by his parent's unsupportiveness and the lack of opportunities to study art. After a furious argument with his father he fled, in 1906, to St Petersburg with nothing but a few roubles.
Life was difficult for a Jew in the Russian capital during such unsettled times. Jews were forbidden to reside in St Petersburg unless their profession made it necessary. Chagall's life took on an element of fantasy as he engaged in an elaborate charade to hide from the authorities that he didn't have an official residence permit. Although he was jailed on one occasion he managed to avoid further scrutiny and was able to pursue his artistic studies first at the School of the Imperial Society for the Protection of Fine Art, where he found the archaic approach stale and depressing. After two years he was able to find a more rewarding environment at the Zventseva School where he shared a studio with Tolstoy's daughter Vera and the dancer Nijinsky. In 1910 Chagall found a patron, Jewish Lawyer Max Vinaver who was prepared to pay his fare to Paris, and and provide him with a monthly allowance to study.
In Paris Chagall worked at a rapid pace surrounded by the creative energy of a city to which artists from all over the world flocked to pursue their art. His art 'desired Paris as a tree desires water'. A struggling artist on a small income, Chagall based himself in the poverty stricken area of 'La Ruche' where artists rented 'cheap' studios. He was sustained by his friends who encouraged him at every opportunity.
Robert and Sonia Delauney were important influences in Chagall's life and his art. A native Russian, Sonia made a point of including Chagall in many of her social gatherings. Robert Delauney's use of Cubist technique and his lyrical sense of colour was a strong influence on Chagall's assimilation of Cubist ideas. As with Delauney, Chagall felt that Cubism lacked poetry and colour. He lightened his palette and his compositions became more harmonious and unified. We see this transition of style as we compare the deep tones of early works such as in My Fiancée with Black Gloves (1909), to the expressive use of brighter and more varied colours in works such as Self Portrait with Seven Fingers (1912).
Chagall's poet friends Blaise Cendrars and Guillaume Apollinaure celebrated his talent in their poems and assured him of the brilliance of his unique, expressive manner of painting. He sent a few paintings to the Salon des Indépendants, and to avante-garde exhibitions in Russia but he sold very little. In 1914 he took most of his paintings to Berlin on the prospect of an exhibition. He extended his trip to include his sister's wedding in Vitebsk and to visit his fiancée Bella. His holiday to Russia was prolonged for an indefinite period when war broke out in Europe. During this extended stay he married Bella. Their first child, a daughter named Ida, was born in 1916.
The upheavel of the Russian Revolution drew the nonpolitical Chagall into events. He was appointed Commissar of Art for Vitebsk and the surrounding region, but became disillusioned after criticisms of his teaching techniques. He moved to Moscow in 1920 and the back to Paris in 1923 after a nine year absence. Many of the paintings he had left there years before had disappeared from his studio. Finally after a period of further hardship commissions began to roll in and by 1930 his name was known worldwide.
Meanwhile the Nazi's were rapidly gaining power. In 1933 Goebbels ordered some of Chagall's work to be burnt. Chagall's concern for the fate of humanity is reflected in works of this period such as Solitude 1933 which conveys an overwhelming atmosphere of despondency with the huddled figure of a pious Jew seemingly depressed, longing for faraway Israel. When war finally broke out the Chagalls moved to the south of France and then to the US to escape the Nazi invasion of France. Chagall was kept busy during the war years with a series of commissions for theatrical and ballet designs.
Tragically Bella didn't live to see the end of the war, dying suddenly in 1944 just before peace was declared. Chagall was overcome with grief and ceased painting for months. It was not until he met Virginia Haggard that he was able to rise out of his depression. His relationship with Virginia (with whom he had a son) and more theatrical commissions helped him to get back into life.
In 1947 he returned to France first to Paris and then eventually making his home in Vence in the south. He married Valentine Brodsky ('Vava') in 1952. In the early 1960's he was commissioned to create some stained-glass windows for the Hadassah University Medical Centre, Jerusalem. This commission was of particular emotional significance for Chagall, touching the very heart of his relationship with his Jewish faith. "All the time I was working," he said, "I felt my father and my mother were looking over my shoulder, and behind them were Jews, millions of other vanished Jews of yesterday and a thousand years ago."
Stained-glass was also the medium he used when he created The America Windows 1977 (Chicago Institute of Art) to celebrate the US bicentennial. These windows are an expression of his gratitude to the United States where he'd found safe haven during WW2. In The America Windows Chagall celebrates the greatness of the United States and acclaims it as a country of freedom, liberty, culture and religious tolerance.
In 1985 Marc Chagall died just as his major retrospective was closing in Russia. He was buried at Saint-Paul. With his death the world was left the gifts of an artist whose work is timeless. Throughout his artistic life he assimilated many of the modern developments in art into his own personal style. He was influenced by, but never aligned to, movements such as Cubism, Fauvism and Surrealism. His work is rich in the imagery of the folklore of his native Russia and Jewish life, and often takes on the appearance of a dream-like fantasy. The breadth of his abilities is shown in the fact that he was able to take on many challenges such as stained-glass, theatre and costume design and book illustration. Indeed Chagall, with such abilities, proved himself one of the 20th century's great masters of art.
The Russian painter MARC GHAGALL, who died in the South of France in 1985 at the age of 97, is widely regarded as epitomizing the "painter as poet". The worldwide admiration he commanded remains unparalled by any artist of this century.
Chagall's paintings, steeped in mythology and mysticism, portray colourful dreams and tales that are deeply rooted in his Russian Jewish origins. The memories and yearning they evoke recall his naticve Vitebsk, and the great events that mark the life of ordinary folks: birth, love, marriage and death. They tell of a world full of everyday miracles - in the rooms of lovers, on the streets of Vitebsk, beneath the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Heaven and earth seem to meet in a topsy-turvy world in which whimsical figures of people and animals float through the air with gravity-defying serenity.
This "poet with the wings of a painter", as Henry Miller once described him, was destined to a life of wandering. Born in Vitebsk, he trained in St. Petersburg before spending four important years between 1910 and 1914 in Paris. Visiting Russia in 1914, the outbreak of war prevented his return. He remained there until 1922, working for part of the time as a commissar for art, returning to Paris via Berlin in 1923.
In 1941, on the day German troops marched into Russia, he left France once again and emigrated to the USA. In 1949, he settled in the South of France.
In his distinctive use of vibrant colour, notably his monochromatic blues, Chagall ranks with Matisse as one of the 20th century's leading colourists.
Der russische MARC CHAGALL, der 1985 mit 97 Jahren in Sudfrankreich starb, gilt als der maler-Poet schlechthin. Er hat wie kein anderer Kunstler dieses Jahrhunderts weltweit Faszination und Bewunderung ausgelost.
Chagalls Gemalde sind von Mythologie und Mystik durchdrungen. Seine bunten Traume und Geschichten wutzeln tief in seiner russich-judi-schen Vergangenheit. In seinem Geburtsort Witebsk sind seine Erinnerungen zu Hause, kreisand um die groben Ereignisse im Leben der kleinen Leute im Schteil: Geburt, Liebe, Hochzeitund Tod. Chagalls Bilder schildern eine Welt voller Wunder, die sich im Alltag vollziehen - im Zimmer der Liebenden, auf den Straben von Witebsk oder unter dem Pariser Eiffelturm.
Das Leben dieses >>Dichters mit den Flugeln eines Malers<<, wie ihn Henry Miller einmal beschrieb, war von Wanderschaft gepragt. Erste Station bildete das dorfliche Witebsk. Nach Lehjahren in St. Petersburg folgten 1910 bis 1914 vier Jahre in Paris, dem Zentrum der Avantgarde. Nach einem Besuch in Witebsk 1914 verhinderte der Ausbruch des Ersten Weltkrieges seine Ruckkehr nach Frankreich.
In Rubland war Chagall u. a. als Kunstkommissar tatig. Uber Berlin kehrte er 1923 nach Paris zuruck. Am tag des Einmarsches der deutschen Truppen in Rubland 1941 verlieb er Frankreich abermals und emigriete in die USA. 1949 schlieblich lieb er sich in Sudfrankreich nieder, begeistert vom mediterranean Licht.
Die haufig monochrom gehaltenen Werke mit ihren charakteristischen Blautonen machten Chagall neben Matisse zu dem bedeutendsten Koloristen des 20. Jahrhunderts.
Le peintre russe MARC CHAGALL, decede en 1985 a l'age de 97 ans dans le Midi de la France, est le peintre poete par excellence. Il a suscite dans le monde entier une fascination et une admiration que nul autre artiste de son siecle ne put egaler.
Les tableaux de Chagall sont penetres de mythologie et de mystique. Ses reves et ses histoires colorees plongent leurs racines dans son passe judeo-russe. Vitebsk est le berceau de ses souvenirs et desirs qui gravitent autour des grands moments de la vie des petites gens du << Shtetl >> : naissance, amour, mariage et mort. Les toiles de Chagall nous decrivent un monde plein de miracles qui s'accomplissent au quotidien, dans la chambre des amants, dans les rues de Vitebsk ou sous la tour Eiffel.
La vie de << poete aux ailes de peintre >>, comme le qualifia un jour Henry Miller, fut marquee par ses peregrinations dont le point de depart fut Vitebsk, sa ville natale. Aux annees d'apprentissage a Saint-Petersbourg succederent de 1910 a 1914 quatre annees importantes a Paris. La Premiere Guerre mondiale eclata alors qu'il etait en visite a Vitebsk. Dans l'impossibilite de retourner en France, il demeura en Russie ou il fut entre autres commissaire aux Beaux-Arts. En 1923, il retourna a Paris en passant par Berlin. En 1941, le jour ou l'armee allemande entrait en Russie, il quitta de nouveau la France et emigre aux Etats-Unis. En 1949, il s'installa finalement dans le Midi de la France, enthousiasme par la lumiere mediterraneenne qui lui inspira des tableaux aux couleurs somptueuses.
Les oeuvres, souvent de tons bleues intenses, firent de Chagall le plus grand coloriste du XXe siecle avec Matisse.
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