Marc Chagall. La Chambre Jaune, 1911. Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel, Sammlung Beyeler.
Marc Chagall (1887–1985) numbers among the 20th century’s best-known artists, and his one-of-a-kind oeuvre encompasses works created as early as 1905 and as late as the 1980s. Born to an Orthodox Hasidic Jewish working-class family and raised in the small Belarusian town of Vitebsk, the artist experienced early childhood in ways that would influence him his entire life long.
Chagall’s whimsical and poetic pictorial worlds, as familiar to us as they may be, continue to fascinate and present ever-new riddles. His oeuvre oscillates between the traditional and the avant-garde with respect to both style and substance. Based on his experience of 20th-century art’s development from primitivism to cubism, fauvism, and surrealism, Chagall created his very own visual language—one unmistakable feature of which is the essential continuity inherent in his multifaceted artistic expression.
The central themes of motherhood and birth, death, and love predominate in Chagall’s paintings, which reflect upon and illuminate them from new perspectives in their repetition and variation. Recurring motifs such as the rooster and the donkey, the cow and the fish function within the artist’s variable, fantastical cosmos as elements that are flexible in terms of their respective meanings. The seeming contradictions and contrasts in Chagall’s compositions and visual worlds bear visible witness to the artist’s search for a “logic of the illogical”, via which he added a psychological dimension to traditional pictorial forms.
This presentation at the ALBERTINA Museum, encompassing around 90 works selected from all of the artist’s creative periods, concentrates on his lively engagement with life’s most primal and universal themes—thereby revealing a diverse multitude of “impossible possibilities.”
The exhibition is a collaboration between the ALBERTINA Museum, Vienna, and Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf.