tor • '"
most original and imaginative
>ne of the
geniuses of twentieth century an, Marc chag;ill (1887
1986) studied painting
native Russia w nh the
In Paria, he wis Fames' brilliant new sense of space.
strung] affected by the color and the Cubists'
From these ;uul other sources, Chagall developed Romantic and personal naive expression based on themes from Eastern
end Russian and Jewish folklore. Animal and floral motifs, village characters brides, and pairs of lovers occur often in his imagery. Asa
fantasy artist ;uul forerunner of Surrealism,
Chagall established himself as an important force in twentieth-century art by the sheer
power and fertility of his imagination, and by his immense creative output over decades Much of his work is associated with literature, including his
illustrations for the Bible, the fables of
La Fontaine, and Gogol's Dead Souls. In 1945 he designed the acclaimed sets and
costumes for Stravinsky's ballet Firebird. His monumental works include two vast murals for the Metropolitan Opera House in New York ( 1966), and twelve stained-glass
windows representing at the
the Tribes of Israel
Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical
Jerusalem (1962). Chagall illustrates more than seventy of
works, and provides a
discussion of his complex relationship with the Paris avant-garde, and his unique place in the history of twentieth-century art.
76 illustrations, including 63 plates in full color
Great Modern Masters
General Editor: Jose Maria Faerna Translated from the Spanish by Elsa
HARRY N. ABRAMS,
r on paper reinforced with canvas, 25 'M x 19'A (65 x 49 cm). Private collection.
Chagall's Bohemian companions in Paris called him poet and in certain respects this nickname, with all
be viewed by
and historians of
Indeed, Chagall's identity as a painter-poet led Andre Breton to char-
triumphal entry into modern painting." The
him as the great genius of the
plastic arts with
love of literature, religious symbols, and folk tales, and his
these themes in his garde,
was scorned by
the most radical of the avant-
rejected traditional subject matter along with so
However, neither of these two characterizations
poetic spirit or literary
significance of Chagall's work,
partially rooted in cultural traditions foreign to the tra-
with a wide range of techniques, including
The Metamorphosis of the Arts was a painter of music, in He was also a great designer, a
Chagall, the lyric poet of the artistic avant-garde, its
most abstract and inaccessible sense.
wizard of theatrical scenography, a painter of the walls and ceilings of
Double Portrait with Wine Glass, 1917-18. Chagall's art always
those great temples of Western culture, opera houses, auditoriums, and
explored his private
museums. He gave new
to the arts of mosaic
as painter-poet, painter-musician, painter-designer, painter-scenographer, Chagall always sought to integrate the artistic disciplines. Above
a painter of "metamorphosis," of the genres, of color, and of form, trans-
forming and overlapping the
many of the avant-garde advocated. The Musician, 1922. Music is a constantly
recurring motif in Chagall's ivork.
was always close, although he was never, strictly speaking, one of them, embraced metamorphosis as one of their fundamental motifs. For them, reality was a continuum of images The
and experiences, of boundaryless
his first contacts
with the Parisian avant-garde, Chagall fully assumed this metamorphic
view of the world. He Fauvists,
rejected any adherence to realism in color or dependence
on the verisimilitude of the green, a
assimilated the chromatic liberation of the
subject. In the
Fauve vision a face could be
red or blue. Perhaps more radically, colors could cross the
borders of objects and establish autonomous relationships with them and
each other. Chagall also assimilated the revolutionary Cubist destruction of three-dimensional space and
time and memory. As a
visual reconstruction in the realm of
result, Chagall's figures inhabit
spaces of trans-
mutation, in which references to the past and the present meet, and the relationships
between the sky and the
earth, or the foreground
background, are often Inverted The horizontality of his landscapes and
the vertically ni ins standing
figures are thus not the ruling prin
an figures are superimposed and soar heads arc separated from trunks, limbs divide, and drap
ciplea of lus spatial logic In his
through the ii
breaks Into facets
no matter how great Chagall's
and love of tradition, he was always much more than a transmitter, or even an interpreter, of previous Bui,
experience and cultural memory. Furthermore, his assimilation of the Innovations of the avant-garde was completely personal. Lot .Hid llis
artist's illustrations fen tin
encounter with the avant-garde
he clearly rejected
approach, and the experimental and "scientific" frame of mind that hoped
by Ambroist VoliarxL
wipe the cultural
from zero. The problems he had as
Director of the Vitebsk School of All with Malevich and Lissitzky are ample
over, Chagall reaffirmed the symbolistic traditions
of his native country.
on projecting the
the avant-garde on the great myths of his people, The Jew with the Cane, 1913 (
ditions of the Jewish culture of Eastern
on reinterpreting the in
a universal visual
stories of the Bible, but with a sensibility
traditional aversion to idolatry.
an angel, these are also flames, thoughts, or
tempered by a
must be done away
was always reflected in his
vision of the world, not by individual symbols. starting point, but
paint the wings of
The worship of the
me by shape and color, by a ... A symbol must not be a
Reinterpreting reality as a series of mutations clearly affected Chagall's
form and subject, and, not surprisingly, with his past and his
also affected his relationship
artistic traditions. Shortly after the
beginning of the Russian Revolution, Chagall said, "The proletarian painter The Mermaid of the "Brie ilcs Anges," 1962. Iin light and color of the Mediterranean pervade the
artist's later works.
Although he there,
perfectly well that he and his talent belong to society."
Russia and the enormous changes taking place
he never repudiated
this statement. Chagall's rejection of the for-
malists self-absorption of the radical avant-garde and his reaffirmation of his cultural origins and religious background were not an evasion, or
a retreat into "mysticism," as has been charged, but an embrace of the
world around him.
For Chagall, First of
embrace of the world manifested itself on several levels. was present physically, in his hands-on interaction with his
materials, through his use of thick impasto, his continual experimentation with
media, and his creation of imposing decorative schemes.
constant references to love, in his images
women, of animals, and of people he cared for, as a source of universal transforming energy. And lastly, it was communal, in his exaltation of shared celebrations: the circus, the theater, and communal prayer. This of
intense feeling for involvement in the world around him, though not always well understood, has
Chagall one of the most popular figures in
Marc Chagall was bom in the Jewish ghetto of the Belorussian city of Vitebsk, into a large but
worked in a household. Even in father
family, the oldest of nine brothers. His
salted herring plant while his his schooldays, the
mother managed the
boy showed a clear
toward drawing. Going against the Jewish prohibition of the creation of images, at the age of nineteen he began to
in the atelier of
Yejuda Pen; he also worked as a retoucher in a photographic stu-
from hand to mouth for some time as he looked for a way to earn a
to Saint Petersburg,
After spending a short period as a student of the School of
Fine Arts, he sets
Leon Bakst, the renowned designer of
at the Russian Ballet,
to realize the creative
independence of the young
menting, "After listening intently to
and does things that completely
into a studio in "La
Ruche" (The Beehive), an
where he was
to maintain a studio until he
and the painters Chaim Soutine, Fernand Leger, and Robert
Delaunay. The influence of this his work.
Paris in 1914. There he struck
up a friendship with some of the Parisian avant-garde, especially the poets Blaise Cendrars and Guillaume
his pastel pencils
In 1910, a patron sponsored Chagall's
The Parisian Avant-Garde
artist's family in Vitebsk.
second from the
new milieu was immediately observable in
early as 1911, compositions such as /
Before arriving in
worked in a "naive"
The Poet, among others, reveal a new distance from the naive realism of his previous works,
and the assimilation of both Fauvian colorism and
the Cubist and Orphic spatial innovations. However, despite this plunge into formal
coloristic experiment, Chagall only infrequently left his
personal iconographic universe. This world
â€”the landscape of Belorussia, scenes of peasant
There were also constant references to people he loved,
especially Bella Rosenfeld, a
was populated by childhood
woman from Vitebsk whom he would
Return to Vitebsk This peculiar avant-garde interpretation of his cultural roots was to be
put forth in various exhibitions in Paris and Berlin until 1914, the year in
which Chagall returned to Vitebsk. What he expected would be a short visit
turned into a period of eight years spent in the three cities of Vitebsk,
of the outbreak of the World
the ensuing revolution. During these years, Chagall developed an even
The artist at work on the preparatory
more personal approach
sketch for Introduction to the Jewish Art
work and moderated
experiments. Although in principle he sympathized with the revolution
Moscow, he preferred to settle Vitebsk and work as the Commissar of Fine Arts and the director
put forth for the post of director
of the local
the Ministry of Culture
he other members of the
who were radically opposed lo soon Chagall's "traditionalism," emerged, In 1920 Chagall left his post and lo Moscow, where he worked as a scenographer and drawing moved faculty, especially
Malevich and Lissitzky,
he returned to Paris. Then came a his contacts Sell
A year later period marked by
both with the merchant Ambroise Vollard, for
trated several books, including
one edition of the
and with mem-
bers of the Surrealist movement. During this time he also participated
numerous exhibitions and traveled
continually, through Franee
other countries including Egypt, Palestine, Holland,
impressed him. The publication of the
and a retrospective exhibition of
where the work of
In 1934-35 he traveled in Spain,
1933 guaranteed his elevation to the European artistic canon. However,
historical events cut this progression of
and the War drove him into
short. Nazi persecu-
exile in the United States in 1941,
signaled important changes in his work. These changes were rein-
forced by the tragic death of Bella in 1944, after which the painter was
unable to work for nearly a year.
could bring himself to
paint again, his former palette of bright colors had shifted to dark tones
and gloomy (
first wife, Bella,
daughter, Ida, in his studio in Paris, 1927.
most of the works of the mid-1940s,
to have turned into nightmares.
Fame In 1948, Chagall returned to France,
Paul-de-Vence, where he
and two years
to live the rest of his
Beginning in 1946,
a series of important retrospective exhibitions in European and American cities
York, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Zurich, Bern to the larger public
tional reputation. After
he returned to France he met Valentine ("Vava")
to play an important role in Chagall's recovery as a
They were married
Thanks to her support, Chagall was
able to undertake ambitious projects with large institutions.
more important of these was the which he finished
cycle of paintings Biblical Message,
1966 and which was
installed in 1973 in the
of the Marc Chagall Biblical Message in Nice; the ceiling of the Paris
Opera, which he decorated in 1964 at the request of Charles
and Andre Malraux; and the great murals for the Metropolitan Opera
York. During this period, with the help of such master
Chagall and his second wife, Valentine
craftsmen as the lithographer Charles Sorlier and the glazier Charles
Brodsky. Valentine was an important sourer of inspiration in the latter part of
Marq, he also experimented with a wide variety of techniques and media.
In the last years of his life
he was continually paid homage.
The Avant-garde and Tradition Before he arrived
in Paris, Chagall's style
in all but historical interest.
realistic, relatively naive,
essential points of reference
stages of Fauvism, the omnipresent style of Cubism, and the Orphism
of Robert Delaunay. To
of this must be added the profound influence of
work of Chagall's friend Blaise Cendrars, who conceived his novels and poems as evocative repertories of juxtaposed images. Chagall's the literary
leap into the avant-garde arena did not, however, lead to any rupture with his past.
to say later,
process of deep transformation of country iation
France undergoing a
with what might be called
between the avant-garde and the
Chagall portrays himself in
to 1910, are the fruit of his rapid assimilation of the pictorial
of the Parisian avant-garde,
my soul." This reconcil-
past, is a constant feature of all Chagall's
between the present
his studio, working on a
painting evocative of his first years in Paris, To Russia, To the Asses, and To the Others (illustration 5).
painting on image of life in
Russia with a seven-fingered hand.
The Violinist, 1911. Tlie influence of Fauvism is strongly 2 evident in this painting. Here Cliagall has transformed a folk
image from his childhood the violinist whose playing accompanies all important Russian Jewish celebrations
â€” into an
explosion of intense colors in the night.
1911-1912. One of Char/all's most
cryptic compositions, cm avant-garde representation oj the
theme of Adam and Ere. The chromatic dynamism of the a metaphorfor the passage of reveals the influence of the Orphic experiments of
spiral in the middle distance
Tiagall dedicated the
Apollinaire after the
poet risited his studio in 1913; in 1914, however, he reaffirmed
his intellectual sources by inscribing the
of Apollinaire along with those of Cendrars, Canudo, and Walden in the loner left-hand comer of the Work.
The Poet (Half-Past Three), 1911. The formal fragmentation and clarity of this work are clearly reflections of CuMst and Futurist experiments. Tlie poet is shown alone in his room in the 4
early hours of the morning, while the energy of his imagination spills out into the
surrounding space, bringing
To Russia, Asses, and Others, 191 1-1 2. While the preparatory was a simple rural image, in the final version the pa in in?/ has become a magical panorama of evocative prim it ire emblems: the core is now a nurturing image, while the milkmaid frees herselffrom her work andflies through the night 5
sketch for this work I
sky. These motifs
â€” maternity, fertility, flying, and the nightâ€”
were some of the most Tin
work was suggested
in Surrealist imagery.
Chagall by Blaise Cendrars.
The Soldier Drinks, 1912. The intense color of th is grotesque image of a soldier in a tavern reflects Chagall's assimilation of the Fauvian and Orphic, experiments. Here Oie colors have their own 6
evoking emotional responses from the vieiver that do not always correspond ivith the objects associated with them. The life,
colors as a whole, however,
impart an intensity offeeling and drinking sprees.
picture appropriate to revelry
The Apparition, 1917. Throughout his
Chagall reinterpreted religious motifs
in the avant-garde vocabulary. Tiie angel in this painting, for example, recalls
traditional representations of the
Annunciation, acting as a metaphor for the inspiration that the artist receives as
he works in his studio. Chagall's debt
Romantic and symbolist traditions
Cubist Landscape, 1918. Even in works
of clearly Cubist inspiration in which
he attained, a considerable degree of abstraction not a common occurrence
Chagall often introduced
motif or refererwe
his cultural origins.
Here, such an allusion can be seen in the insistent repetition of the artist's signature, in both Latin
Vitebsk Chagall's return to his native city of Vitebsk in 1914 \\
began a period
hich he established his personal style by picking and choosing from the
offered by the avant-garde. In contrast to the political tur-
bulence Europe was experiencing, Chagall's principal works from this period reflect an intense concentration and are markedly morose in tone.
many revolutionary energies and so much war, down into his background, into the foundations of his culture and his private world. Two themes recur often in Chagall's paintings of this period. One is that of the rural environment, populated with allusions to Jewish culture rabbis, fiddlers, the Hebrew alphabet, It
as though, amidst so
the painter needed to dig
the star of David.
the image of Bella, his wife, the foundation
of his happiness. Both motifs were to appear in his later years.
Over Vitebsk, 1914. The wandering Jew
flies over the artist's silent native eity,
depicted as a lifeless desert of snow. In this period, Vitebsk apart,
Chagall "a land
Day (Rabbi with Lemon), 1914. A somber representation
of a rabbi in the celebration of the Jewish festival ofSukkoth. The strange placement of another, smaller- rabbi on the head oftlie figure
be an allusion to his preoccupation with his faith.
11 The Newspaper Seller, 1914. A poignant image of a newspaper vendor possibly a metaphor for the wandering J'ew who crosses the dark city under a bloodshot sky. "I had the
impression that the old
maybe a shadow from
heart teas falling on him," Chagall explained.
Bella with a White Collar, 191 7.
could bring Chagall
the presence of Bella
put aside the tone of sadness that pervades this period. Bella is the guardian of the to
most of his work in happiness of the painter and that of their daughter Ida, who are shown as the minute figures at the lower- edge of the composition. 13
Violinist in Green, 1918. To Chagall, the violinist is
mythic figure. As an indispensable accompanist
to the births,
weddings, and burials of the Jewish community, he is a kind of witness to all human existence. Like the painter, he also possesses the cathartic power' of art.
Metamorphosis Chagall's pictorial world
often impossible to
the process the
identity of the different motifs appearing in a paint-
the elements that
scape, objects, living things his representations of
people and animals. The
involve their characteristics and
—a peasant woman may have the head of a horse may be green or red —as well as their a actions— a shown riding a rooster, or a cow attributes bird,
a bird. His characters generally are inhab-
itants of the
peasant world, whether people of the
community or such domestic animals as cows, The village was a
horses, donkeys, or roosters.
favorite setting for Chagall's play of identity, just as
the circus ring
later to be.
The Rooster, 1929. Peasant
important protagonists in Chagall's paintings. Their relationships to
arc like those that people maintain
ideally governed by the principle of love.
metamorphic images, the bird-woman and the bird-fish, marks this
oj striking colors.
Juggler, i943. Birds in the Night, 1967. Birds,
metamorphically changed and merged with other beings, are the actors in a performance in one painting,
and creatures of the
night in the other. In The Juggler, the rooster-ballet dancer-angel represents the
humorous changeability of identities
ring. In the nocturnal landscape,
in the circus
on the contrary, the birds,
stars, represent the
passionate solitude of lovers.
Fall of Icarus, 1975.
of Icarus, who
prison in Crete, to
the audacity of
reach the sun. This image q) Icarus goes back again to the idea
Chagall reinterprets the Greek
the tragedy of the man-bird.
20 The Sun-Bird, 1969. If in the earlier painting the tragedy of an impossible metamorphosis was reflected, in this one the fusion of two primitive symbols, the bird and the sun, is exalted. Under its
spread a scene of other transformations.
The Magic Show Chagall's interest in celebrations
and performances dates back
to his youthful images of weddings, dances,
rural festivities. His con-
when he collaborated with the Kamerny Jewish Theater of Moscow. Later on he was to design sets and costumes
tact with the
world of theater started
and Opera. However,
to take charge of the interior decor of places like the Paris it
until the 1960s that his fascination with the theater
world was to materialize as a mythic image
in his paintings: the circus.
on, the circus ring definitively replaced the landscape of the village as his setting for transformation
and magic, becoming the arena where
phantoms meet. The circus music;
work of art.
for Chagall the
the material manifestation of the
nexus of gestures, words,
modern Utopia of the all-embracing
Circus Scene. Entering the Ring, 1968-71. Clowns,
and musicians are the numerous circus scenes Chagall produced
equestriennes, jugglers, ballet dancers,
characters in the
Clown Lying Down, 1968-71. Chagall many times expressed
his identification with the figure of the clown. In this case, the
images of the painter and the clown intertwine on the canvas. Around them, as in a dream, appear an equestrienne and the two cities of Paris and Vitebsk. 24
Carnival at Night, 1979. Beings similar to ones acting in the
circus ring meet in this carnival scene. Like the carnival, the night
a suitable setting for transformation, for the dissolution
The Great Parade, 1979-80. Another circus scene with
familiar cast of characters: trapeze equestriennes, clowns,
infused with intensely bright
Preparatory sketchfor Introduction
collaboration with the
models and ÂŤ series
large paintings produced at the request
Granovski, tins one
Theater resulted in
numerous scenographic <>t
the theater's director,
27 Model/or the set of The Magic Piute, 1967. ( TiagaU designed the sets and costumes for Mozart's work, which was the opening event at the inn- Metropolitan Opera in S'nr York.
same opera house he
also painted lira oj his most important murals,
Sources of Music and The Triumph of Music.
One of Chagall's most complex works, homage to artists. In the central ring world an angel appears, impelled by the hand work of the cloivn, the equestrienne, the
in which the painter pays
a metaphor for the of God,
to bless the
musician, and the painter' himself, who, as carriers of the magic of representation, act as intermediaries between the earthly and celestial spheres.
The Ceiling of the Paris Opera, 1964. An exaltation oj music, and the city of Paris, this is probably Chagall's mast famous work. At seventy-seven, ChagaU accepted the commission of Andre Malraux ami President De Gaulle la paint a surface of tiro hundred tireiili/ square meters in oil on Sizing elolli. To enable him to handle a Work of this size, the French government put the 29
workshops of the Gobelins Tapestry Manufactory at his disposal. (dso had tin considerable help of the master lithographer Charles Sorlier, one of his most faithful collaborators.
Clown with Hoops, some of his
later works, Chagall
applied his colors in
forming a composition of colors independent of the figures in the scene.
Equestrienne on a
Red Horse, 1966. At
circus, the intrepid
equestriennes are the
female counterparts of the clowns and jugglers in
he center ring.
Love Although not part of the
reflect the positive side of
contemporary public Chagall
the painter of happiness in love.
In his paintings feminine
images and embracing couples appear again and
surrounded by joyful color and exuberant ornament. The land-
scapes, animals, and plants participate in the radiant happiness of the
them with affection. Many of these paintings are portraits of the two women in his life, Bella Rosenfeld and Valentine Brodsky. In other paintings he depicts himself and his lover in more or less idyllic surlovers, encircling
motifs are often associated with these loving demonstra-
tions of extravagant lyricism.
characters with a freedom that
bouquet of flowers.
first is flight,
where love infuses
off the Earth.
To Chagall, love
expression offreedom. Here the
â€” in this case the painter and his â€” throw off their
wife, Bella Rosenfeld
earthly ties liberation.
set off on
a flight of
Portrait of Vava, 1966. Valentine Brodsky, Chagall's second
the serene defender of the Chagalls' universe. The
green color of her face is associated, as in other works by the painter, with the idea of enlightenment. On her abdomen, an
embracing couple symbolizes the fertility of love. In the background are the two cities of Vitebsk and Paris.
Blue Face, 1932-60. Winter, 1966. For Chagall, the figure of a
on a winternight.
music, as in these two later works.
are often associated
Flowers appear often in Chagall's compositions,
always associated with love, and in these two images, irith maternal love.
painter offlowers, on a
par with other modern masters of this genre, such as Odilon Redon,
Auguste Renoir, and
Couple on a Red Background, 1983. The
1969. 'hen idyllic images that
and His Wife,
a ill Yarn. In many of Chagall's ivories, the use of color in planes independent of the motifs is reminiscent of the technique of another well-known avant-garde artist, Raoul Dufy. .
"Everything Is Going Black Before From
the middle of the thirties until the end of the forties, Chagall's paint-
ing experienced a profound change. In 1933, the
spective of his
work was held
of Basel, the Nazis destroyed
of his paintings, attacking him for being a
Obsession, 1943. Nightmares
Jew and a "degenerate
On June 23, 1941, the day the German offensive against the Soviet Union began, Chagall embarked in Marseilles for the United States. Tragi-
war years. The humble hut
burning and and
with blood, flee into the surroundings.
The inula inc symbols crucifix
the candelabra, the
lost their power.
cally, his exile
was made even more
by calamity three years
the death of his wife Bella in 1944. "Everything eyes." the painter
going black before
wrote only a few days after her death. Following
the happiness of his previous
his characteristic bright
work gave way to an obsession with tragedy, and luminous chromatism was replaced by a
mournful range of grays, blacks, and dark blues splattered with screeching motifs in red or yellow and dramatic chiaroscuro effects.
The Revolution, VX17. Chagall was
distrustful of the results of the Revolution. In
image he contrasts his personal world (right) with the clamor of the victors (left). Hi is
In the center, a
counterpoint points the
pensive rabbi serves as a
way for his
allies to follow. "I
ink the Revolution could be a great thing if
maintained respect for differences," the
The War, 1964-66. The honor of war was engraved on Chagall's mind for the life. His paintings are associated with the two (/real tragedies of the Jewish
people: the Holocaust
scenes of Christ on the
During these years, images of martyrs and ovss appeared again anil again in
Chagall's works. The painterfound refuge out a in religious faith.
The Soul of the City, 1945. To the global tragedy of the War was added the artist's personal tragedy of the death of Bella. In this somber, almost monochromatic painting, his wife comes back to the painter as an apparition, and he expresses his pain by painting an image of the crucifixion. 44
The Lights of Marriage, 1945. Chagall making use of an earlier painting, The Harlequins, in which Bella was shown in a happy circus scene. Chagall divided that painting in two and, starting with some of the fragments of the original composition, painted two scenes marked by the memory of his dead ivife. The contrasts of light and dark in these paintings give both an air of melancholy. 45, 46
created these two works by
Exodus, 1952-56. The luminous yellow figure of the crucified
Christ symbolizes the sacrifice of the Jewish people, wrapped in darkness. Tlie importance that the image of Christ acquires in (
iconography reveals the universal scope of his religious
The Flayed Ox, 1947. When he ivas a
his grandfather's slaughter-house. Later,
boy, Chagall often visited
from his Parisian studio
in "La Ruche," he could hear the lowing of the cattle being killed in the nearby slaughterhouse of Vaugirard. As in the well-known images of the same subject by Rembrandt and. Soutine, the image of the butchered animal, with its clear religious overtones, is a tragic symbol of human destiny.
The Biblical Message "After
my early youth, became captivated by the Bible. I
seems, the greatest source of poetry of
have been looking for that reflection
Chagall, the Bible
his use of
always seemed all
have tried to transmit that secret." For
the most precious part of a universal cultural legacy,
not due to doctrinaire or propagandistic motivations.
of his apparently secular works can be interpreted in a
explicitly religious, are personal
which images, settings, and personalities from his meet primitive characters and spirits. The group of paintings conserved in the Museum of the Marc Chagall Biblical Message reinterpretations in
Nice stands out
among these works.
The Rainbow, Symbol of the Alliance between God and the Abraham Preparing to Sacrifice His Son, 1931. Using
Earth, 1931. the
of gouache, Chagall created a vaporous and dreamlike
setting for the angelic apparitions in these two
Song of Songs
to the series
7960. Jacob's Dream, 1954-67.
of religious paintings preserved in the
Message in Nice, these two
works, like those on the next page, are excellent examples of Chagall's chromatic mastery.
Adam and Eve Expelled from Paradise, 1954-67. Abraham and the Three Angels, 1954-67. Angels are a recurring motif in 53, 54
Chagall's work, and, like
many of his protagonists,
ambiguous, metamorphic beings. As divine messengers, angels are used to resolve the traditional disassociation of the spiritual
the material worlds.
David, 1962-63. Bathsheba, 1962-63. In these two similar
paintings, religious symbols are projected over real settings. The
protagonists oftlie Biblical story, King David and Bathsheba,
whom he loves,
are shoivn as apparitions in the three principal
life. In the painting on the left, Vitebsk is the background for a wedding parly under a red canopy (above),
down the streets of Vence (below). In the painting on the right, a show of affection takes place in the Place while a procession moves dp
Concorde in Paris.
Paradise, 1962. Chagall presents Eden as a place of transformation and fluidity, a universe outside time and space.
and shapes are distributed harmoniously in a markedly
Mosaics and StainedGlass Windows Given the decorative implications of his
mature work, Chagall
this kind of
mosaic and the His
work took place
when he designed the stained-glass windows for a small mountain church 1957,
Plateau d'Assy in Upper Savoy; that
same year he
for the Cathedral
of Metz, an ambitious project with which
he was helped by Charles Marq, a master glazier
and director of the famed Jacques
Simon workshops of Reims. From then on he was to accept many other design commissions, among which were the stained-glass
of Reims (1974) and the great wall mosaic of the Biblical
of the Marc Chagall
1964-65. The Prophet
is formed by dots of which merge in the eye
The mosaic image different colors,
of the viewer. This "pointiUist" technique is
reminiscent of the one used by the
divisionist painters at the end of the
nineteenth century. Using this technique,
Chagall creates a beautiful
61, 62 ;uul
The Creation of the World. The Patriarchs Abraham, Jacob,
Moses. 1959-62. Stained glass offered an unsurpassable
medium for Chagall's
windows are surprisingly consonant with medieval religious buildings, unlike so many modern experiments with this technique.
Seven Fingers 1912
Homage to Apollinaire 1911
Gown Lying Down
3' x 2' 4'
Private collection, Milan
Entering the Ring. 1908
Oil on canvas,
The Poet (Half-Past Three) 1911 Oil on canvas,
Mill, inns, inn,
OUon cam i, l rii, it,
OU on canvas, 2' 4'
Private collection, Milan
Carnival at Night 1979 OUon canvas, yS'x5'3'(13t ion, m) Pierre Matisse Gallery, \.» York
lb Russia, kssee, and Others 1911 12 Oil on canvas, 5' l'x 4' I'lii 122cm) \lusee National d'Ari Mod/erne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Pa 5
80 Oil on canvas, 3' 9" x t'3'(119
132cm) Piern Matisst Gallery, Neu
Sketch for "Introduction
The Soldier Drinks 1912 Oil on canvas, S'O'xS'l'O 10 > S lomonR Guggenheim Museum, Veui York
Landscape. 1918 Oil on canvas, 3' 3' x l'9'(100x
Art Theater." 1920.
the set of "The Magic Flute." 1901
ink mill collage 0) printed paper. 1'8'X J'
Pencil, gouache, '/
Circus. 1908. Oil on em, ens. 5'0° x 5' 2"
160 cm). Pierre Matisse Gallery,
Over Vitebsk, mi'i (>U on reinforced cardboard, 2' 4' x 3' (73 x in Art Gallery "i Ontario, Toronto Donation to/ Sam and i
Private collection, Paris
Ministry, Saint Petersburg.
and gouache on ochre paper,
27 m The Apparition 191? Oiloncanvas,5'2"x4'0 (157x
Ceiling of the Paris Opera. 1964. Oil on si sing cloth, 722'
722' (220 x
Feasl Daj (Rabbi with Lemon),
3' 3" x
Clown with Hoops
65 cm). Private
The Newspaper Seller.
3' 2' x 2' 6' (98 x
Bella with V.)
ml. Private collection, Paris.
2' 1" (92 x
Equestrienne on a Red Horse. 1900. oil on canvas, 4'9"x
90.5cm). Kunstsammlung Nordrhein Westfalen,
1900. Oil on canvas,
a White Collar. 1917.
4" canvas, 4' 9' x 2'
1924. Oil on canvas, 2' 2° x 2' 10" (07.5 x
91 cm). Galerie Beyeler, Basel.
Art i si's collection. Portrait of Vava. 1966. Oil
The Violinist in Green. 1918. Oil on canvas, 0'4'x3'5' 195.6 x 108 cm The Solomon R Guggenheim Museum. Seiv York. Donation hi/ Solomon R. Guggenheim
on canvas, 3'x2' 1" (92x05 cm)-
The Rooster. 1929.
on canvas, 2' 7" x 2' 1" (81 x
(100 x 82 cm). Private
with Blue Face. 1932-60. Oil on canvas, 3'3"x collection
65 cm). 35
Museo Thyssen, Madrid.
Winter. 1966. Oil
on canvas, 5'3"x.l' 7" (162 x 114 cm).
Artist's collection 15
1968-71. Oil on canvas, 3' x 2' 1' (92 x
Roses and Mimosas. 1956. Oil on canvas, 4'6"x3'7" (145 x 113 cm). Evelyn Shai-p Collection.
1925. Oil on canvas, 3' 3' x 2' 7" (100x81 cm).
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo.
Gladiolas. 1955-56. Oil
Gustav Zumsteg 17 The Juggler. 1911. oil on canvas, -V 6" x 2' 6" (109 x 79 cm). Hie Art Institute. Chicago. Donation by Mme. Gilbert Chapman.
on canvas, 4'3"x.3'2" (130 x 97cm).
Couple on a Red Background. 1983. Oil on canvas, 2' 7"x
2' 1" (81 x 65.5 cm). Artist's collection. 18
Birds in the Night. 1907. Oil on canvas, 2' 7" x 3' 8" (81 x
116 cm). Private
and His Wife. 1969. Oil on canvas, 3'x2'4"(92 x
73 cm). Artist's 19
Fall of Icarus. 1975. Oil
198 cm). Musee National d'Ari Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou. Paris. 20
The Sun-Bird. 1969. Oil on crimes,
on en, mis. 0' 10'x0'5' (213x
x2''9" (1 16x 89 cm).
Obsession. 1943. Oil on canvas, 2'5"x 3'5" (77 x 108 cm).
The Revolution. 1937. Oil on canvas,
6"x 3'3" (50 x
Adam and Eve
Expelled from Paradise. 1954-67. Oil on
canvas, 6'2"x 9' 3" (190 x 284 cm). Musee National Message
Kunsthaus, Zurich. Vereinigung Ziircher Kunstfreunde.
The Martyr. 1940. Oil on canvas, 5' 4" x 3' 7" (164.5 x 114 cm). Kunsthaus, Zurich. Donation by Electrowatt AG, Zurich.
Abraham and the Three Angels. 1954-67. Oil on canvas, 6'2"x (190 x 292 cm). Musee National Message Biblique Marc
The Soul of the
City. 1 945.
Oil on canvas, 3' 5" x 2' 7"
81.5 cm). Musee National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges
Pompidou, Paris. 55 45 About Her. 1945. Oil on canvas, 4'3"x3'6" (131 x 110 cm). Musee National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.
The Lights of Marriage. 1 945. Oil on canvas, 120 cm). Private collection.
4' x 3' 9"
Exodus. 1952-66. Oil on canvas, 4'3"x5'3" (130 x 162 cm).
5' 9" x 3' 2"
(180 x 98 cm).
David. 1962-63. Oil
Bathsheba. 1962-63. Oilon canvas, 5' 9"x3' 1"
96 cm). Private
on canvas, 6' 5" x 9' 4" (199 x 288 cm). Musee National Message Biblique Marc Chagall, Nice. 57
Paradise. 1962. Oil
The Flayed Ox. 1947. Oil on canvas,
3' 3" x 2' 7" (101 x
Offering. 1975. Mosaic,
18' 7" (665 x
Chapel of Sainte-Rosaline, Les Ares.
81 cm). Private collection, Paris. 59
The Rainbow, Symbol of the Alliance between God and the Earth. 1931. Gouache on paper; 2'x 1'6" (63.5 x 47.5 cm). Musee National Message Biblique Marc Chagall, Nice. 49
Abraham Preparing to
on paper; 2' l"x Biblique
and gouache 52 cm). Musee National Message
Sacrifice His Son. 1931. Oil
7" (65.5 x
The Lovers. 1964-65. Mosaic, 9'8"x9'4" (300 x 285 cm).
Fondation Maeght, Saint-Paul-de-Vence.
60 The Propher EUjah. 1970. Mosaic, 23'5"x 18' 7" (715 x 570 cm). Musee National Message Biblique Marc Chagall, Nice.
The Creation of the World. Stained-glass window: left, "Tlte and Sixth Days"; right, '"Die First Four Days." Musee National Message Biblique Marc Chagall, Nice. 61
51 The Song of Songs III. 1960. Oil on canvas, 4'9"x 7'5"(149x 230 cm). Musee National Message Biblique Marc Chagall, Nice.
The Patriarchs Abraham, Jacob, and Moses. 1959-62. Stainedwindow (part): left, "Jacob's Dream"; right, "Moses before the Burning Bush. " Saint-Etienne Cathedral, Metz. 62
Jacob's Dream. 1954-67. Oil on canvas, 6' 4" x 9' 1" (195 x
278 cm). Musee National Message Biblique Marc
Coordinator, English language edition: Ellen Rosefsky
Editor, Englisfi-languagt edition: Elaine M. Stainton
Designer, English-language edition: Judith Michael
1905 Ediciones Poligrafa, S.A.. and Globus Comunicacion, S.A.
English translation copyright
VEGAP, Barcelona 1995
1095 Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
1995 by Harry N. Abranis, Incorporated,
Company reserved No pan
of the contents of this
be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher Printed and bound in Spain by La Poligrafa, S.L.
Parr is del Dep. Leg:
Voiles (Barcelona) B.
BAKER & TAYLOR
ABRAMS TITLES IN THE GREAT MODERN MASTERS SERIES Each volume includes approximately 75 colorplates
BACON CHAGALL DALI DE CHIRICO
MIRO PICASSO Other
are in preparation
Woman with Blue
Face. 1932-60. Oil
canvas. 61 /ie x 83W(156 x 212 cm). Private collection. Â© 1995 APS/New York/ADAGP, Paris 7
Jacket back: (above) The artist at work on the preparatory sketch for Introduction to the Jewish Art Theater, 1920;
(below) The artist and his second wife, Valentine
CAMEO/ABRAMS Harry N. Abrams, 100 Fifth Avenue
Printed in Spain
ne of the most original and imaginative geiuses of twentieth-century
1887-1985) stimiRit Russia with the s while working i
Marc Chagall his
<eon Bakst. Later,
strongly afnt color and the
fected by the F Cubists' new se
other sources, C >ed a Romantic and personal na ssion based on themes from Eastern European village life and Russian and Jewish folklore. Animal and floral motifs, village characters, brides, and pairs of lovers occur often in his imagery. As a fantasy artist and foreri 'realism, Chagall established hims u^fV iportant force in twentieth-centur 1 sheer power and j ^ ~: J ieraniy 01 fertility of nis his im< im; d by his immense i creative output A ss. Much of his | work is associat J rature, including f his many illustrations for the Bible, the fables of La Fontaine, and Gogol's Dead Souls.
Art, painters, painting