Rich blue sapphires, golden topazes, apple red rubies…. No, I did not go jewelry shopping this weekend, rather I spent a lovely hour (or so) with a fairly dense crowd at the Musée du Senat in the Luxembourg gardens diving into the sumptuous colors at the Chagall exhibit.
I like Chagall. I am aware that he is not for everyone. Upside down chickens and flying musicians do not reflect classical realism, nor modern abstract purity and it all requires a willing suspension of disbelief. But I love his gem stone palette, and I find his fantastical characters, often dancing, kissing, playing music absolutely delightful. His work has been known to make my make heart do a little jig. I suspect I am not the only one and that this is perhaps why he was chosen to paint the ceiling at the Opera Garnier. His stained glass windows adds the perfect counterpoint of colorful light to the cold grey stones at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Reims, making it my favorite cathedral in France.
The Musée du Senat is small, which makes this show easy to digest, and as the work is shown chronologically, you get a very good sense of the artist’s evolution, which really highlighted his genius, as his style changed little throughout his career. You start to understand the context in which he worked; the village where he was born, the war that raged through Europe, his exile. But most of all, you gradually begin to notice that the driving factor of his art, the underlying theme of it all, is love. Love for his homeland, his wife Bella and of life in general. You don’t need the written explanations on the walls to understand that Chagall was focused his attention on the magic in life. And a visit to this show is a great little uplifting moment in the sun, to quote an inscription from the show, “A hymn to light and life…..”
NOTE – I just spoke to a colleague from NYC who was not impressed with the show. Not one bit. When I asked why she said that these were not his best works. She has a point. The show really is like a sweet little hymn, and not at all a profound symphony of the great master’s works.