Thursday, January 14, 2010

I must admit I don't always know what's going on in Chagall's paintings. Trying to understand his work better, I cheated a little yesterday and checked out a children's book from the library. And it's all there - author Ernest Raboff does not provide TMI. Instead there is just enough about Three Candles (above) to give you a foothold: the sense of movement, the mood of happiness in the painting of a bride and groom who move through the air on some kind of magic carpet, the glimpses of his hometown in Russia that he includes in so many paintings.

Those white flowers that seem likes stars or small clouds add to the dreamlike quality common to so many of his works. I think there have been a lot of attempts to emulate this style, but they just come off as shallow and new-agey. What gives these their "rightness"? Is it the richness? Complexity without clutter? I don't know, but I think if that bride were at a slightly different angle, there would be something not quite right, and the painting would not work nearly as well. They float - but they are alive and real. What do you think?

After leaving his native Russia to study in Paris, he explored Fauvism and Cubism, but ultimately he forged his own style. That's always the hard part, isn't it? Still working at it.

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