In Nice, guest artists express their vision of the famous artist’s work in the exhibit: “Chagall et moi! Les 50 ans du Musée Chagall”
At the Musée National Marc Chagall, a host of diverse artists are invited to express their perspectives on Marc Chagall’s work from January 28th, 2023 to January 8th, 2024 in a special exhibit called “Chagall et Moi! Les 50 ans du Musée Chagall [Chagall and I! 50 years of the Chagall Museum].” The museum organized the dynamic exhibit to commemorate its 50th anniversary, and to reflect on Chagall’s timeless themes and striking images that visitors still cherish today.
The Marc Chagall National Museum, which is an architectural work of art in itself, first opened its doors on July 7th, 1973, in the presence of Marc Chagall. It was his 86th birthday, and the first time that a national museum dedicated to an artist had opened during the lifetime of that very artist. In fact, Chagall was intimately involved in the creation of the museum, and had endearing dreams for its future.
The Chagall et Moi! exhibit looks back on half a century of curatorial success while also asking visitors to reflect on their own understanding of Marc Chagall’s most famous works. Currently, four artists are setting the example through installations that showcase their own fantastic techniques, while still recalling Chagall’s iconic style. The exhibit culminates as a celebration of his artistic skill, and a meditation on his universal themes.
A Dream Come True
At the inauguration of his national museum in 1973, Marc Chagall gave a speech in which he expressed the desire for his museum to become a place where “the young and the old will come in search of an idea of fraternity and love” and that exhibited art of “high spirituality from all peoples.” Listeners today would probably understand this as an appeal for diverse voices in the artistic industry.
The Chagall et Moi! exhibit is an answer to that wish, and it showcases its diverse range of guest artists in three separate sessions. The first session, which highlights visual, literary, and performative arts through April 30, 2023, is currently exhibiting four different creatives: Japanese visual artist Makiko Furuichi and her fantastical and whimsical watercolor mural; Belgian writer and essayist Stéphane Lambert and his texts that recontextualize a series of Chagall’s artwork and reveals a new side of the artist; and Spanish and Japanese dancers-choreographers Asier Edeso and Mimoza Koike respectively, and their immersive performance choreographed especially for the Musée Chagall.
According to Grégory Couderc, the museum’s Scientific Director, the idea was to invite creatives to engage in the discourse of Chagall’s work, “so that we can see what it awakens within ourselves.”
The work of one of the guest artists, Furuichi, engages specifically with Chagall’s mosaic titled The Prophet Elijah, which is visible across a small courtyard through floor-to-ceiling windows. Her installation, titled Ciel poilu, pluie chaude (“Hairy Skies, Warm Rain”) is a mural that spans three walls: a myriad of fantastical beings that parade around the figure of Elijah the Prophet in sweeping blues, greens, reds, and oranges. Both the beings and the colors recall Chagall’s own brushstrokes.
While creating the mural, Furuichi spoke with many museum workers, whom she realized each had “their own version of Chagall in their heads.” She believes it’s the diversity imbued in Chagall’s artwork that keeps people talking about him for so long—that keeps Chagall in their heads — and leads young artists like herself to develop their own interpretation of his artwork. Interpretations that the Japanese artist thinks give more value to Chagall’s work in return. Her artwork, like that of the other guest artists, enters the discourse by challenging viewers to recontextualize the Chagall in their heads, while also re-emphasizing the timeless aspects of his choice of colours and themes.
Art Inspired by Love
In 1973, Chagall had dreams of love and peace both for his national museum and for the world at large. He wanted his deeply religious artwork to be appreciated on a universal level, and would have been thrilled to see such diverse and multi-disciplinary art installations dedicated to broadening the conversation about his work. But while the anniversary exhibit is helping to achieve his dream of bringing diverse artistic visions to the museum, the greater world still remains polarized, and often fractured.
Chagall, however, remains hopeful, even from the afterlife. “Is this dream possible?” he asked 50 years ago. “But in Art, like in life, everything is possible if, at the base, there is Love.” His message rings true and clear today, too.
A Year of Celebration
The first phase of the Chagall et Moi! exhibit, which includes Furuichi’s watercolour mural, runs through April 30th, and will then be followed by two others: May 13th to September 4th, 2023, and September 16th, 2023 to January 8th, 2024. Future guest artists will include creatives from even more surprising disciplines, including French writer and female rabbi Delphine Horvilleur, luxury French perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena, and musician and composer ilia Osokin, among others. There is also a special agenda of festivities for the late artist’s birthday weekend on July 7th, 8th, and 9th, 2023.
Lead image © RIVIERA BUZZ, photo of Grégory Couderc © Margherita Bassi
Marc Chagall, Après l’hiver, 1972
Lithographie couleur publiée dans la revue Derrière le miroir, n°198.
Photo: © RMN – GP / Adrien Didierjean © ADAGP, Paris, 2023