Detail from 'Dance'
21st February to 21st July 2013
Chagall between war and peace
Here is an exhibition that takes you from the wide snowy spaces of Russia to the enclosed spaces of Paris while travelling through aerial visions of biblical sites. A journey into Chagall’s imaginary world that primes over the imagination of his Cubist contemporaries; a powerful demonstration of how his deep-set roots resisted his nomadic life and how his freewheeling style finally prevailed over modern art theories and dictums. Yet, outside this imaginary world of his there was the crude reality of war that took him by surprise when he went back from Paris to his native Vitebsk to join Bella whom he married in 1915. The misery of war with it’s wounded soldiers and the homeless Jews insinuated itself into his magical world that was essentially a world made out of ‘the color of love’ as he put it. His was a world rich with a joyous narrative rooted in religious and folkloric legends. An oneiric world that defied gravitation and perspective, and was populated by poets who had literally lost their heads as unhierarchical as God’s primeval creation and as magical as a child’s dream of life. His last Russian works were a feverish endeavour to bring a token of this lost childhood paradise back with him to Paris.
He settled back again in Paris in 1922 thinking he would find peace at last, but his narrative style was in antithesis to what was in the air in Paris, which was a tendency to conceptualize art so far from him, yet so fascinating to him. With his first trip to Paris (1910-1913), he had met Apollinaire, Modigliani, Soutine and Léger while he was staying at ‘La Ruche’. The Cubist fever in Paris, reflected in his 1912 ‘Self-portrait with 7 fingers’ shows an attempt to conform with the trend, fitting rational Cubic forms into his irrational dream world, introducing what was deemed as modernity into his timeless folkloric legends. But on his return to Paris, he soon reverted to his own style that took another route to distinguish itself from photography: the form, the colors, the perspective, the objects were all recognizable, but they followed a different paradigm and composed into a perfect epitome of reality. His style, reminiscent of Persian miniature book illustrations, both in design and for its interpretive quality, was perhaps what prompted the art dealer Vollard to commission him to illustrate the ‘Fables de Lafontaine’ and the ‘âmes mortes’ of Gogol as well as the Bible (1930), a project that stretched till 1956 and incited him to visit its geographical sources Palestine, Syria and Egypt. Although it seemed to him like a re-visitation: "I did not just see the Bible, I dreamed it."
The peace interim lasted until 1937, when in an exhibition in Munich his confiscated paintings were brandished as ‘degenerate art’. Chagall then moved to New York with Bella and Ida, following unfavorable political developments in France. Far from the war front, he felt and painted intensely the pain and injustice of the war (cf. his 1943 blood-drenched 'War'). Having lost Bella in 1944, he relocated to France in 1949 and settled finally in Vence, in the South. This was a very fertile period where he experi- mented with different media (e.g. stained glass, sculpture, ceramics, mosaic, and various engraving techniques). This was also a period of amazing output, which included the Paris monuments series, vibrant with such innovative rendering that still holds in the modern eye.
“All colors are the friends of their neighbors and the lovers of their opposites.”
Musée du Luxembourg
19, rue de Vaugirard, Paris 6th
Open: Mondays & Fridays from 10:00 to 23:30
Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays
from 10:00 to 19:00
Saturdays & Sundays from 10:00 to 20:00
Price: 9 Euros (free for children under 8).
33 (0)1 42 34 25 95
Chagall visited on the Web
Musée du Luxembourg
Chagall Entre guerre et paix
10th April to 22nd July 2013
Grand Palais, Galeries Nationales
Representing many trends of modern and contemporary art, spanning from art movements such as Abstract, Kinetic, Optical, Installations, Sensorial Immersion or Tactile art, this exhibition follows the creative traces of a galaxy of over 140 artists that form one of the most important schools of 20th century art. On 4000 m2 of space we walk past Neons of John Armleder, the triangular ‘Prism’ of Nicolas Schôffer, ‘Rotating Labyrinth’ of Jeppe Hein, ‘Light Corner” of Carsten Höller, ‘foggy stars’ of Ann Veronica Janssens, ‘Mirror Act by Keith Sonnier, ‘Tripple X’ neons of François Morellet, ‘Mechanical chromes’ of Carlos Cruz-Diaz, ‘fluorescent tubes’ of Dan Flavin, acrylic ‘Surface Colours’ of Julio Le Parc, the clurlicued ‘Fall’ of Bridget Riley, ‘Spheric Bitmap’ of François Morellet, the out of focus ‘Nick of Time’ by Philipppe Decrauzat, the curtain walk-ins ‘Penetrable BBL Blue’ of Jesùs Rafael Soto, heavenly ladders of Gianni Colombo and the optical illusions of Victor Vasarely such as ‘Meta-galaxy’.
The exhibition begins with well-known contemporary artists’ latest creations, including figures such as Fujiko Nakaya, John Armleder, Anish Kapoor, Philippe Decrauzat, Jeppe Hein, Carsten Höller, Ann Veronica Janssens and François Morellet. It then forks into two main categories: the Visual and the Spatial.
The artworks pertaining to ‘Visual’ which are exploratory and play with our perception of light, color and form, are then subdivided into other categories such as ‘slatted’ (Vasarely’s ‘Sonata-T’), ‘permutation’(Klaus Staudt’s 15Grad-55Grad 1/47), ‘concentric & eccentric’ (Julio Le Parc’s ‘Mendoza’), ‘interference’ (François Morellet’s ‘aluminium tubes’), ‘immersion’ (Ann Veronica Janssens’ ‘Daylight blue’), ‘distortion’ (Joël Stein’s ‘Anaphormose’), ‘tactile’ with art that can be touched or is unseizable, ‘bitmapped’ (François Morellet’s ‘Sphère-Trame’), and ‘beating’ (Hugo Demarco’s ‘Superposition recto-verso’).
The ‘Space’ section denoting the artistic experimentation ‘abyss’ or ‘placing images into infinity’ (Keith Sonnier’s ‘Mirror Act’), ‘entering into artistic atmosphere’ (Fujiko Nakaya’s ‘Cloud Installation’, ‘field of force’ (Takis’ electromagnetically moving works’, ‘halo’ (Ann Veronica Janssens ‘Purple Turquoise’), ‘uncertain space’ of labyrinths, penetrables and decomposables (Christian Megert’s ‘Environment’), ‘maelstrom’ artistic whirlpool or spiral (Nicolas Schâffer’s ‘Prism’, and ‘celestial’ or the search for the unattainable (Elias Crespin’s ‘Circumconcentricos Transparency’).
The exhibition ends with the pioneers such as Riley and Keith Sonnier.
Our deepest sensorial paradigms are called upon to experience new sensations with techniques such as sending flashes of intense light, enveloping us in colored fogs, astonishing us by unpredictable change of mobile mirrors, or caressing our eyes by suave haloes.
Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais
avenue du Général Eisenhower, Paris 8
Phone: +33 (0)1 44 13 17 17
Metro: Champs-Elysées Clémenceau, Franklin Roosevelt
Open: 10:00 to 22:00 (Sundays & Mondays 10:00 to 20:00)
School holidays: Open every day 10:00 to 22:00 (including Tuesdays)
Closed: normal Tuesdays, 25th December
Price: 8/12 Euros
Dynamo visited on the Web