Marc Chagall was one of the artists featured in a set of Montessori artist cards I used with my children when they were little but it wasn’t until earlier this year when I was reading Island of the World by Michael O’Brien that I became interested in learning more about him and his art.
The Three Candles (1938-1940)
In O’Brien’s book, Josip, the main character is speaking to his friend, Caleb, a troubled and rebellious youth whom he had befriended some years before. Over time Josip had encouraged the boy’s latent academic ability and when Caleb wrote his poem, Giraffe Wars, he gave it to Josip to read.
“So, how did you like Giraffe Wars?”
“I regret that I did not like it, Caleb.”
“Oh, thank you very much.”
“However, I did notice your technical competence, and your growing sense of creative intuition.”
“Oh, then it’s my hypothesis you reject.”
“Poetry must never be a vehicle for ideology.”
“That’s ridiculous. Poetry is always a vehicle for somebody’s ideology! Look at Ezra Pound!”
“I cannot read him. His Fascism disturbs me, just as Picasso’s paintings disturb because they derive, consciously or subconsciously, from his Communism.”
“I like Picasso – a lot!” the boy says in a challenging tone.
“You should go to the Metropolitan and spend time with Chagall.”
“Who is Chagall?”
“I will take you to meet him on Saturday. He is in painting what a poet should be in poetry. These heroes you are fond of, Picasso and Pound, they disturb not in the way a painting or poem should disturb. Instead they create a malfeasance in the subconscious – and in the soul.”
It’s interesting that Francis Schaeffer commenting on Picasso in his book, How Should we Then Live, stated,
‘In great art the technique fits the worldview being presented, and this new technique of fragmentation fits the world view of modern man.’
Marc Chagall’s view of life was rooted in his faith and permeates his art. A Hasidic Jew, he was born in Vitebsk, Belarus in 1887. He lived through the First World War and the Bolshevik Revolution and when WW2 broke out he and his family escaped at the eleventh hour to America in 1941. The links below have information on his life and work:
Marc Chagall Net has probably the most comprehensive collection of his art work that I’ve seen plus biographical information. The art work I’ve put in this post came from this website.
Peasant Life (1925)
I and the Village (1911)
The Birthday (1915)
Abraham and the Three Angels (1958-1960)
“The Bible is life, an echo of nature, and this is the secret I have endeavored to transmit.”