Mon 9 Oct 2023 to Fri 16 Feb 2024
Artist: Marc Chagall
Alon Zakaim Fine Art presents Marc Chagall: Love and Luminosity – an exhibition of one of the finest collections of privately owned Chagall works in the United Kingdom. With works spanning from 1938 to 1984, this retrospective showcases the deep connection between Chagall’s deployment of luminous colour and his most recognisable motifs. This landmark show also investigates the effects that love had on his artworks, be it the love for his first wife Bella Rosenfeld, his second wife Valentina (Vava) Brodsky, or the deep affection that he carried for his home city of Vitebsk and his adoptive home in Paris.
From a young age, Chagall’s broad and ambitious mind was at work, dreaming of his future potential career paths as a violinist, cantor, dancer, and poet. These envisioned occupations would later materialise in his art and motifs, which similarly found influence in his childhood in Vitebsk. In addition to these formative years, his love for his first bride, Bella, also served as a catalyst for his visual language. Bella appeared in his seminal 1917 work Bella with White Collar, and after her death in 1944, Chagall placed importance on preserving her memory through his paintings. She appears as a recurring motif in many of his works, particularly through the ‘lovers’ motif, exemplified in Chagall’s c.1984 work Amoureux à l’arc en ciel.
Chagall specialised in riotous displays of colour, creating a spectacular body of work that compelled Picasso to comment “when Matisse dies, Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what colour is.” To the artist, colour could convey movement, rhythms, and emotions - a punctuation that instils dynamism into his bouquet works. Colour also served as the perfect basis through which to express the love Chagall felt throughout his life, for both his first and second wives, his children, and for his art.
Chagall’s second wife Vava also proved to be a driving force in his art, appearing as a muse in many portraits, including the artist’s 1966 work, Esquisse pour ‘Portrait de Vava’. Here, Vava embodied Chagall’s life in France and she also played a central role in the ‘lovers’ motif in other works.
The importance of love and luminosity within Chagall’s oeuvre is one that is best explained by the artist himself:
"In our lives, as in the artist's palette, there is only one colour that can give the meaning of life and art – the colour of love."