Marc Chagall

Marc Chagall
La chambre jaune, 1911
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Marc Chagall
La chambre jaune, 1911

The Yellow Room
Oil on canvas, 84.2 x 112 cm
Photo: Peter Schibli, Basel

A yellow room: two people, a cow, a table, a doorway offering a view of a village bathed in the light of the full moon. Standing on the table are a samovar and three cups, one of them cast in shadow – perhaps a reference to a third person who is not present. It is as if Chagall, the greatest poet amongst the Modernists, were narrating a tale from his native Russia. The picture was painted in Paris, evident in its luminous palette which derived from Fauvism, and in its concept of space, reminiscent of Cubism. The faux-naïf quality and eccentric nature of the figures and objects seem to dissociate the spatial dimension from the scene’s narrative: because the table, for example, appears to be falling out of the picture, we perceive its significance as a normally stable object.

Marc Chagall
Marc Chagall

1887, nr. Vitebsk (Russia) – 1985, Saint-Paul-de-Vence

The Russian-French painter, printmaker and designer, who studied art in Vitebsk and then St. Petersburg, found crucial artistic inspiration in Paris, where he first lived from 1910 to 1914. Fauvism and Cubism had a stimulating influence upon his painting, which revolved around the themes of Jewish mysticism, rural peasant life in Russia and the world of the circus. Embracing lovers, animals and flowers are among his preferred pictorial subjects. Painting in luminous, expressive colours, he combined symbolic motifs to create dreamlike visual worlds. In addition to designing murals for the Jewish Theatre in Moscow in 1919, he illustrated works by Gogol and La Fontaine and the Bible, as well as designing glass windows and ceramics.

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