Marc Chagall: Poet in Pigment

Today's the birthday of Marc Chagall.

The evocative dreamy "Le Pont Neuf"

Or the mystical "Fiddler on the Roof"---

His flights of fantasy still enthrall.

Sister Wendy:

"Chagall is one of those artists who seem to draw all their inspiration from childhood. Indeed, his early life reads like a fable---he was a Jew in a Russian village, and desperately poor. But the poverty was only material, for his childhood was rich with Jewish stories and Jewish culture. All the farmyard images of that rural life come back in his mature work and transfigure it with a supernatural energy.

The rooster that is ridden and so tenderly embraced by one woman has parallels in this painting: we see other lovers in the rowing boat, and lovers peeking behind the girl's foot, as if Chagall is eager that we should not misunderstand the significance of the painting. This is an image of marriage, of the great male and all his sexual splendor supporting and accepting and becoming one with a barefoot woman. Chagall's emotional life revolved wholly around his wife, and his images of their relationship are among the most tender in painting."  [From "1000 Masterpieces: Sister Wendy Beckett's Selection of the Greatest Paintings in Western Art"]

Filed under: art

Tags: 1887-1985


Leave a comment
  • A lovely post, thank you.

    His "America Windows" stained glass is one of the most-loved pieces at the Art Institute.

    Also, in the (now) Chase Bank Plaza downtown is his mosaic, "Four Seasons" ---a gift of public art...

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    Thanks, Weather Girl, for the accolade. Chagall is one of my favorite painters. Love his colors. He was amazingly versatile and prolific. Designed the scenery for several ballets too. And inspired the musical "Fiddler on the Roof".

  • I didn't know that about "Fiddler on the Roof"! Now I can appreciate the painting even more. Loved the line from Sister Wendy, too--"The poverty was only material...." Something to think about....

    Thanks again.

  • No, he didn't inspire Fiddler on the Roof. That is from old Sholem Aleichem tales.

    The only thing in common is that they were from the same Central European culture.

  • In reply to jack:

    Yes, Jack, the musical was based on a Sholem Aleichem tale. But..."The title 'Fiddler on the Roof' was inspired by a Marc Chagall painting. The sets, designed by Boris Aronson, were also based on Chagall's work."

Leave a comment