- Marc Chagall
- Signed Chagall and dated 1911 (lower left)
- Oil on canvas
Thence by descent
Within a day of his arrival in Paris Chagall visited the Salon des Indépendants and immersed himself in the work of the Fauves and Cubists. Paintings by Derain, Léger, Matisse and Picasso hung alongside one another demonstrating to Chagall the groundbreaking possibilities present in the Parisian art world. Chagall soon found lodging in the La Rûche studios where he worked and lived next door to Amadeo Modigliani and Chaim Soutine. La Rûche served as a melting pot for artists, poets and writers drawn to Paris from all over Europe. The eclectic atmosphere, where artists lived in a semi-poverty stricken ideal, was best descibed by Chagall in his own words, “the studio has not been cleaned for a week. Stretchers, eggshells, empty soup tins lie around in a mess… On the floor reproductions of El Greco and Cézanne lie cheek by jowl with the remains of a herring, which I had cut in two, the head for the first day, the tail for the next, and—thank God—crusts of bread… While in the Russian studios a slighted model can be heard sobbing, from the ateliers of the Italians comes the sound of guitars and singing, and from the Jews heated discussions. Meanwhile I am quite alone in my studio, working by my petrol lamp, surrounded by pictures painted not onto canvases, but rather onto tablecloths or my bedsheets or my shirts, which I have cut up. Two, three o’clock in the morning. The sky is blue—it is getting light. Somewhere they are slaughtering cattle, the cows are lowing, and I paint them” (quoted in Jacob Baal-Teshuva, Marc Chagall, 1887-1985, Cologne, 1998, p. 41).
Displaying a symphony of vibrant colors floating in a dark blue backround, Fleurs demonstrates Chagall’s lifelong exploration of classical painting viewed through the lense of his unique, mystical impression of the world. The use of floating imagery suspended in rich monochrome landscapes would be a recurrent theme throughout Chagall’s long career, framing his work within a playful and naïve sensibility. However, Chagall’s use of vibrant colors bursting from the vase in Fleurs displays his burgeoning knowledge of the Fauves and the indelible impression Paris left on his practice.