Chagall at the Luxembourg Museum in Paris …

The first of 2013’s art exhibitions opened on Thursday (February 21) at the Luxembourg Museum. The exhibition – Between War and Peace (Une vie entre guerre et paix) – is the first major one in France of Marc Chagall’s work since the Grand Palais exhibition of 1969/1970. Between War and Peace covers four stages of […]

The exhibition album.

The exhibition album.

The first of 2013’s art exhibitions opened on Thursday (February 21) at the Luxembourg Museum.

The exhibition – Between War and Peace (Une vie entre guerre et paix) – is the first major one in France of Marc Chagall’s work since the Grand Palais exhibition of 1969/1970.

Between War and Peace covers four stages of the Lithuanian-born artist’s work: Russia during the First World War; France between the two world wars; exile in the USA, and post-war France.

Chagall known as Marc, but whose birth-name was Moishe Segal, was born on July 6, 1887 (or in the Old Style on June 24, 1887) in Vitebsk, today in Belarus, but which was then part of the Russian Empire (Holy Russia).  He died in the town of Saint Paul-de-Vence in the South of France on March 28, 1885, having become a French national.  Because of such musical chairs of nations and nationalities there are those who think of him as French, others who say he is Russian, whereas I just identified him as Lithuanian.  He was born Jewish but, because of his affection for the Christian faith – he did several stained glass windows for cathedrals, notably one in Saint-Stephen’s Cathedral in Metz – at his funeral in the Saint Paul-de-Vence cemetery he would have died without Jewish rites if one of the mourners, a Jew who did not give his name, did not say the kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, over his coffin.

Abraham weeping for Sarah.

Abraham weeping for Sarah.

The first painting we see is Chagall’s self-portrait: the young curly-haired Moishe Segal stands in front of the timber-frame that was his home. The title is: Self-portrait in front of  house, 1914 – Autoportrait devant la maison, 1914.   Next, we walk through the life of a Jew in pre-war Vitebsk.

In this section too are portraits of Bella – Bella Rosenfeld – his first wife whom he married in 1915 and by whom he had a daughter Ida. Of her he said: “It was as if she had known me for a long time, as if she knew my whole childhood, my present, my future; as if she were watching over me; I felt that this was my wife … I entered into a new house and I was inseparable from it.”

Bella died in 1944 in the USA and Chagall, who had said of her death “everything went dark” then had an affair with great-niece of Henry Rider Haggard and a son was born from their seven-year affair, but she left him for another man and he then back in France married Valentina Brodsky, known as Vava, who lies buried with him in Saint Paul-de-Vence.

Moses receiving the law

Moses receiving the law

I will quote from the leaflet handed out at the exhibition:

The artist focused on major cycles made up of paintings or sketches that were rendered as series built around a theme, such as the series of Paris and its monuments as well as the Biblical Message cycle.

His use of colour changed slightly and his outlines became more assertive.

His painting was nourished by the exploration of various techniques, including ceramics, and sculpture, as well as monumental art through his work with stained glass and mosaics.

With an intense luminosity it is a hymn to freedom and to life.

The Monster of Notre Dame

The Monster of Notre Dame

You can share in this hymn to freedom and to life until Sunday, July 21. The museum is open each day from 10 am. to 7.30 pm. It will be closed on May 1 which is Labour Day here in France. A ticket comes to €11 ($14.50 / £0.90).

Know that the queue is very long. You can buy your ticket on-line: I recommend that you do because then you can walk right in.

Chagall can also be viewed at the Chagall Museum in Saint Paul-de-Vence, or in the Chagall Museum in Vitebsk.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Marilyn Z. Tomlins

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