Marc Chagall (1887 – 1985)
Marc Chagall was born in Vitebsk, Byelorussia to a poor Hassidic family. The eldest of nine children, he studied first in a heder before moving to a secular Russian school, where he began to display his artistic talent. With his mother’s support, and despite his father’s disapproval, Chagall pursued his interest in art, going to St. Petersburg in 1907 to study art with Leon Bakst. Influenced by contemporary Russian painting, Chagall’s distinctive, child-like style, often centering on images from his childhood, began to emerge. From 1910 to 1914, Chagall lived in Paris, and there absorbed the works of the leading cubist, surrealist, and fauvist painters. It was during this period that Chagall painted some of his most famous paintings of the Jewish shtetl or village, and developed the features that became recognizable trademarks of his art. Strong and often-bright colors portray the world with a dreamlike, non-realistic simplicity, and the fusion of fantasy, religion, and nostalgia infuses his work with a joyous quality. Animals, workmen, lovers, and musicians populate his figures; the “fiddler on the roof” recurs frequently, often hovering within another scene.
Symbolism: A literary as well as a visual art movement, in the 1890’s in Europe, particularly France, which included the painter Odilon Redon. A group of painters was influenced by Symbolist ideas, and also carried further the ideas of the Post-Impressionists, such as Gauguin. Painters influenced by Symbolist ideas, calling themselves the Nabis (French for ‘prophets’), included Pierre Bonnard and Vuillard. The Symbolists were also influenced by Art Nouveau (with its curvilinear quality), and carried forward the notion of painting being colors and shapes on a flat surface, rather than “objective” reality. There was also a tendency toward dreamlike imagery, such as Gauguin’s and Redon’s.
Fauvism: Also a movement of loosely connected French painters, of the first years of the 20th century, which included Matisse and Derain. The main emphasis in Fauvism was on color – bright, free use of arbitrary (independent of objective reality) color (les fauves meant ‘wild beasts,’ a term coined by those critical of the paintings). The shapes were also not confined to objective reality, and showed strong exuberance of spirit.
Cubism: A new structural and spatial organization in painting (and sculpture), begun in France following Fauvism, in the first years of the 20th century, by Picasso and Braque, which was inspired by African sculpture and Cezanne’s paintings, among other influences. Cubism dealt mainly with space – the disintegration of traditional illusionistic space in art, and the beginning of pictorial space, which again was based on the notion that a painting is not an illusion of three dimensions, but has its own two-dimensional reality that overrides the depiction of depth. There was also a tendency toward flattening images as geometrical shapes, and the notion of multiple perspectives, as opposed to the previous one vantage point of Renaissance space. Other artists, such as Gris and Feininger, followed Picasso and Braque, and spelled out their cubist theories in writing.
Surrealism: Surrealistic movement started in the 1920’s, it was also a literary movement, in Europe. Surrealistic painters had wildly divergent styles, but some of the elements they had in common were: the effect of the subconscious and dreams in art; the importance of the element of chance in art; the idea of an absolute, or ‘super-reality’ in art. The most famous exponent of Surrealism was Salvador Dali; other Surrealists were Joan Miro, Max Ernst, and Rene Magritte.
Chagall Printmaking Project
Using the visual language of Chagall, based on fauvism, cubism, surrealism and symbolism, we will be making three large Mono-prints. Your Mono-prints will be based on fables, nursery rhymes or children’s story. The medium of Mono-prints lends it’s self to colourful depiction of whatever you draw/paint.
Chose a fables, nursery rhymes or children’s story from your own childhood. If it’s in a language other than English that will be wonderful. If you cant remember any from your childhood ask your parents or guardian. Chances are they will still know it by heart! As a last resort go to the library or look on the Internet.
Hey Diddle, Diddle Traditional English Rhyme
Hey Diddle, Diddle, the cat and the fiddle
The cow jumped over the moon;
The little dog laughed to see such sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.
Bring a copy of it to class. It will be important to have a copy of the story with you for this project.
Really get to know the story. How will you make a picture that shows various images in the story in one picture? How will you depict the most important elements of the story as the most important elements in the pictures? What will you composition be like?
Make several sketches 3” x 5”, minimum of five. Remember, your sketches do not have to be realistic; they have to be interesting and engaging.
Chooses the best three and develop your idea in to 5” x 7” sketches/drafts and add colour- Fauvist Colour!
When you are satisfied with you sketches show them to Mr. Keller.
After talking about your work you will be asked to go on to the good copy stage in which you will be making large monoprints based on you drafts.
Typed copy of your fables, nursery rhymes or children’s story 10 marks
Five 3” x 5” sketches 20 marks
Three 5” x 7” drafts 30 marks
Three-signed large good copy prints 90 Marks
Total 150 Marks