Friday, November 30, 2012

Chagall, Marc

Scene de Cirque
oil on canvas
24 x 41 cm (9 1/2 x 16 1/8 in.)
location unknown

Dedicated to his second wife Vava, this work is an exceptionally dynamic and vibrant depiction of the circus, one of Chagall's most celebrated subjects. The circus was a continuous source of inspiration for Chagall throughout his life: a magical dreamland that transported him into the parallel world of the subconscious. This fascination dates back to his childhood in Vitebsk and indeed he also frequently attended the circus in Paris. The circular ring was certainly suited to the dynamic atmosphere that is such a dominant feature across all of his oeuvre, and indeed the viewer is thrust into the centre of the drama to take a seat in the audience. In the Chagall's own words, "it is a magic world, the circus, a timeless dancing game where tears and smiles, the play of arms and legs take the form of a great art".

"For the Cubists," Chagall said, "a painting was a surface covered with forms in a certain order. For me a painting is a surface covered with representations of things . . . in which logic and illustration have no importance." Chagall had a passion for dreaming, and his whimsical, folkloric paintings serve as testimony to this. His instinct was to abandon logic to the joy of creation, and as such Chagall's paintings become an expression of his internal thoughts and feelings rather than objective projections of the outside world.

Marc Chagall (1887 - 1985), was a Belorussian-French artist and one of the most successful artists of the 20th century. Among the celebrated painters of the twentieth century, he is associated with the modern movements after impressionism, including fauvism and Cubism, a twentieth century avant-garde art movement that revolutionized European painting. In Cubist artworks, objects are broken up, analyzed, and re-assembled in an abstracted form instead of depicting objects from one viewpoint, he depicts the subject from a multitude of viewpoints to present the piece in a greater context. Often the surfaces intersect at seemingly random angles presenting no coherent sense of depth. However, he worked at the fringes of the different movements of modern art, also infusing his work with the folk art of his Belorussian roots as well as his Jewish heritage.

He studied in Saint Petersburg from 1907 to 1910 at the Imperial Society for the Protection of the Arts and later with Leon Bakst, then he moved to Paris in 1910, where he associated with Guillaume Apollinaire and encountered Fauvism and Cubism. There, he participated in the Salon des Independants and the Salon d'Automne. In 1914, he visited Russia, and was prevented from returning to Paris by the outbreak of war. He settled in Vitebsk, where he was appointed Commissar for Art, and he founded the Vitebsk Popular Art School directing it until disagreements with the Suprematists which resulted in his resignation in 1920. He moved to Moscow and executed his first stage design. After a sojourn in Berlin, he returned to Paris in 1923. During World War II, he fled to the United States, then he returned to and settled permanently in France in 1948. He died March 28, 1985, in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France.