The Landing Bookshelves have been rather quiet of late for one reason or another I’m afraid but I hope to shake off my dose of ‘Blogger’s Block’ as soon as possible. With a little bit of luck (as Alfred Doolittle once sang) normal service should resume shortly. Meanwhile, here’s a quick snapshot of a new purchase for my TBR Pile...(!)
I went to visit the Marc Chagall (1887- 1985) exhibition at Tate Liverpool recently and indulged myself in a catalogue purchase with my birthday money afterwards. The last major Chagall exhibition held, which I also managed to visit, was Chagall: Love and the Stage at the Royal Academy in London, 1998.
I can still recall a feeling of being incredibly overwhelmed by the experience of looking at the paintings in the flesh as it were, that I had previously only seen in books. When I went on to study art history as a mature student later that year, I was able to choose Chagall as a topic in the assessment work for a couple of modules.
Not surprisingly I have yet to actually sit down and read my new catalogue properly but instead have been raptly gazing at the reproductions. One of my favourite paintings, The Promenade (1917/18) depicting Chagall with his wife Bella floating in the air above him, is placed opposite the foreword. The rationale for this exhibition, according to the foreword, is to offer a reappraisal of Chagall’s work. This has similarly also been essayed for Klimt, Picasso and Magritte in Tate Liverpool’s recent summer exhibitions.
The editors explain that the exhibition intends to represent Chagall ‘as a pioneering avant-gardist who responded to the initial problems and paradigms of abstraction with narrative elements, expressionist colour, nostalgia, fantasy and folklorist influences to create poetic and enduringly moving works.‘ Five essays by experts on Chagall’s work look these different aspects of his art, beginning with Simonetta Fraquelli on ‘Logic of the Illogical: Chagall’s Paintings 1911-1914’. The painting on the catalogue cover, I and the Village comes from this period; Chagall’s own particular view of the world is expressed in gorgeous colour in a brilliant composition.
Another essay in the catalogue explores Chagall’s influences from his Jewish heritage and his positioning of himself as a painter of a much wider world. Monica Bohm-Duchen (Marc Chagall: Russian Jew or citizen of the world?) discusses Chagall’s early life in Vitebsk, in a devout Hasidic household, his art studies in Russia and his eventual move to the cosmopolitan art world in Paris. Introducing her piece, Bohm-Duchen says that ‘an understanding of his complex relationship to his Russian-Jewish roots remains central to an understanding of his oeuvre’.
I look forward to settling down and reading these and the other essays in the book in the next few days. Chagall has featured in a previous blog post back in the #PoetryinJune series as the subject of an Alan Murphy poem. If you missed it first time round then do take a look at it.
More from the TBR Pile on the Landing Bookshelves soon. Drop me a line about your summer reading/activities if you have come across anything you’d like to share.