today is Marc Chagall’s birthday

I know this because Google has its usual tribute to the day’s event in its header. It’s important to me because Chagall is actually one of those artists that I happen to adore. I want to be very careful here and not sound pretentious or goofy or like a poser. I’m not a connoisseur of anything, but I know what I like, and I tend to really like the things I claim to like.

I first encountered Chagall quite by accident. I was living in Aix-en-Provence, a beautiful city in southern France not too far from Marseille and the Riviera. I was attending school there and enjoying the wonderful host family that coincidentally had many of the same interests as I. The whole flat was covered in books, and as an English major minoring in French (who knew I needed French to study the medieval literature I loved?) I was in absolute heaven.  More about these wonderful folks another time.

Anyway, I ended up at the Chagall Museum in Nice and couldn’t tear myself away. His work, to me, seems whimsical but very symbolic, and I couldn’t read enough about his life. I think I was drawn to his work because of his use of color, particularly blue, and absolutely fell in love with this painting:

I couldn’t put my finger on the significance that this painting would have on me later, but at the time I was drawn by the color and the contrasts he created. It turns out blue is a very meaningful color–suggestive of the Divine. Hmm. Who knew? Certainly not I. I was just mesmerized by the art on display.

It reminded me a little bit of another painting that I love, The Old Guitarist by Picasso:

This painting is unique because if you look above the old man’s head, a woman’s face emerges–like Picasso may have painted over something else, or, perhaps, his muse is faintly visible.

Anyway, that’s my tribute to Chagall. I’ll forgive him for the atrocity that is the ceiling at the Paris Opera.

3 thoughts on “today is Marc Chagall’s birthday

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