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Paris Through the Window, 1913
Marc Chagall, French (born Belorussia), 1887 - 1985 
Oil on canvas, 53 1/2 x 55 3/4 inches (135.8 x 141.4 cm)
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection, By gift 37.438. © 2010 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris

Paris Through the Window, 1913 Marc Chagall, French (born Belorussia), 1887 - 1985 Oil on canvas, 53 1/2 x 55 3/4 inches (135.8 x 141.4 cm) Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection, By gift 37.438. © 2010 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAG

Exhibition

Paris Through the Window: Marc Chagall and His Circle

March 1–July 10, 2011

Free After Museum Admission As a symbol of culture, freedom, and modernity, the city of Paris held a magnetic attraction for artists from around the globe during the early decades of the twentieth century. Most painters and sculptors, as well as poets and writers, settled in a vibrant area of Paris known as Montparnasse, which was sprinkled with art galleries, artists' residences, and cafés. It was here that Alexander Archipenko, Marc Chagall, Moïse Kisling, Moïse Kogan, Jacques Lipchitz, Louis Marcoussis, Amedeo Modigliani, Chana Orloff, Jules Pascin, Chaim Soutine, and Ossip Zadkine established studios and discovered each other's work.

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This exhibition includes more than 70 paintings, sculptures, and works on paper by these émigré artists and their French colleagues, all of which were created in a unique atmosphere of mutual encouragement and support in Paris during the early decades of the twentieth century. Interwoven throughout is the story of Chagall's formative years in the French capital during the 1910s, his return to Russia during World War I and the rise of the Russian Revolution, and the artist's triumphant return to Paris in the 1920s as a leading figure of the city's thriving avant-garde.

La Ruche

Marc Chagall arrived in Paris in May 1911 and for the next four years lived and worked at a studio complex called the La Ruche (the beehive), so named because of its distinctive cylindrical shape and honeycomb-like maze of artists' studios. Located on the southwestern fringes of Montparnasse, La Ruche was a three-story-high building with a central staircase and studios radiating out from its core. La Ruche opened in 1902 and, since the rent was minimal and artists' models were supplied free of charge, it quickly became a thriving artists' community, with its own theater and exhibition schedule. By the time Chagall moved there, La Ruche had a large population of Eastern European artists who had moved to Paris to discover the most recent trends in modern art. Among the other artists to live or frequent La Ruche between 1910 and 1914 were Alexander Archipenko, Moïse Kisling, Moïse Kogan, Jacques Lipchitz, Chaim Soutine, and Ossip Zadkine. Many of these émigré artists were also attracted to the religious tolerance of Paris, which provided a relatively safe new working environment free from the pogroms and persecution that their Jewish families had endured for generations in their former homelands of Russia, Poland, and other Eastern European countries. The French artist Fernand Léger also worked at La Ruche during this time, as did the Italian painter and sculptor Amedeo Modigliani, whose libertine behavior made him one of the most colorful personalities of this bohemian enclave.

These first years in Paris found Chagall nestled in a vibrant community of creative and likeminded artists, many of whom sought to develop unique approaches to painting or sculpture by blending their own experiences and cultural backgrounds with the latest advances in modern art. Cubism was at the time foremost amongst such progressive movements, and Chagall quickly internalized its syntax of refracted light and geometric form, reconciling it with the artistic training he had received in Russia. In the 1911 painting Half-Past Three (The Poet), he transforms a scene from everyday life at La Ruche--where friends frequently visited his studio to talk or share a drink, even in the early hours of the morning--into a dazzling masterpiece of striking color and dynamic rhythm.

Petrograd Murals

In 1916, while living in his native Russia, Marc Chagall was invited to create a series of large-scale murals of religious festivals for a Jewish secondary school adjacent to the main synagogue in Petrograd (formerly Saint Petersburg). Purim and Man with Lulav are important studies for this never-executed mural cycle, which would have allowed the artist to paint scenes evocative of his childhood as a Hasidic Jew in Vitebsk. Bright, warm colors and striding figures of grand proportion are the hallmark of such studies. Chagall also eschewed the Cubist fragmentation he had experimented with in Paris in favor of an easily comprehensible, faux-naïf style, which he probably felt was more suitable for schoolchildren. Unfortunately, at the outbreak of the Russian Revolution in 1917, Chagall had to abandon the mural commission--his first for a Jewish organization--so that he and his wife could return to the relative calm of Vitebsk.

<i>Man with Lulav</i>, c.1916-17
Marc Chagall, French (born Belorussia), 1887 - 1985
Pen and brown ink, watercolor, and wax crayon on paper, 10 ½ x 9 inches
Private Collection, Philadelphia

Man with Lulav, c.1916-17 Marc Chagall, French (born Belorussia), 1887 - 1985 Pen and brown ink, watercolor, and wax crayon on paper, 10 ½ x 9 inches Private Collection, Philadelphia

Twenty years later, political unrest would again alter the fate of Chagall's Purim. The study was seized by Adolph Hitler's National Socialist Party from the walls of the Museum Folkwang in Essen, Germany, and shipped to Munich for inclusion in the state-sponsored exhibition Entartete Kunst (Degenerate Art). This exhibition--seen by more than three million people during its four-year tour of Germany, Austria, and Poland--used Nazi slogans and anti-Semitic captions to link modern art with social degeneracy and political subversion. Because of its Jewish theme, as well as its expressive use of non-naturalistic color and scale, Purim was featured in the exhibition and the related press as a paradigm of the art that the Nazi's authoritarian agenda sought to repress. In 1941, the same year that Entartete Kunst ended its tour, Chagall was able to flee France for the safety of New York. He continued to paint and make prints, as he had in Paris, but much of his work also dealt with the extreme danger and persecution confronting the Jewish people. One project from this period was a set of illustrations for the book Burning Lights, a memoir by Chagall's wife Bella about her Jewish upbringing. His drawings of religious holidays and festivals appear based on his memory of works like Purim and Man with Lulav, thus preserving the legacy of his never-realized Petrograd mural commission.

The School of Paris

In September 1923, after nearly a decade of living and working in his native Russia, Marc Chagall returned to Paris at the request of the French art dealer Ambroise Vollard, who commissioned the artist to create illustrations for new editions of Nikolai Gogol's Dead Souls and Les Fables by Jean de La Fontaine. The project dominated Chagall's work over the next decade, as seen in The Watering Trough, 1923, where a bent-over woman and grinning pig share the sense of otherworldly fantasy and charm that Chagall similarly expressed in the gouaches and etchings that he made for the book commissions. Throughout this period of prodigious painting and printmaking, Chagall once again found himself at home in the community of artists, writers, and musicians that thrived in Montparnasse during the first half of the twentieth century. In 1925, the noted French art critic André Warnod coined the term "School of Paris" to describe this eclectic, cosmopolitan group of foreign-born painters and sculptors whose number included Chagall and his former La Ruche colleagues Moïse Kisling, Jacques Lipchitz, Amedeo Modigliani, Chaim Soutine, and Ossip Zadkine, as well as other Montparnasse artists, such as Louis Marcoussis, Chana Orloff, and Jules Pascin. Rejecting the widespread notion that this foreign "invasion" represented a threat to French tradition, Warnod highlighted instead the profound contributions that these expatriate artists had made to modern art and French culture.

By the 1930s, Warnod's unwavering critical support of Chagall and other School of Paris artists took on a sense of urgency amidst a rising tide of anti-Semitism and xenophobia sweeping across Europe, which would culminate in World War II and the Holocaust. Like many Jewish artists, including Kisling, Lipchitz, and Zadkine, Chagall was forced to flee his beloved Paris. Leaving just months before the German occupation, he first traveled south to Gordes, in the designated Free Zone, and then to the port city of Marseilles. There, on April 9, 1941, he was arrested by police from the pro-Nazi Vichy government, but was released after his friends threatened to create an international scandal by contacting the New York Times. With direct assistance from Alfred H. Barr, Jr., the director of the Museum of Modern Art, and funds donated by numerous individuals--including Louise and Walter Arensberg, who had recently acquired the artist's Half-Past Three (The Poet)--Chagall secured an exit visa that brought him and his family safely to the United States, where they arrived on June 21, 1941.

Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts

The Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA), inspired by the Kimmel Center, will place Philadelphia's cultural scene onto the world stage with a month-long festival offering performances, exhibits and events. Based on the philosophy of collaboration, innovation and creativity, PIFA's programs represent every arts discipline and include more than 100 partners. Offerings include newly commissioned works, classical performances and exhibits, surprising partnerships featuring local and international artists and exciting explorations of traditional, non-traditional, new and emerging art forms. In homage to the artistic energy of Paris 1911-1920, PIFA celebrates works from that era and new creations inspired by the brashly innovative spirit of the period. The festival was made possible by an extraordinary grant from Philadelphia philanthropist Leonore Annenberg, whose vision for a city-wide celebration of the arts shaped its philosophy and programming. PIFA takes place April 7-May 1, 2011. For the most up-to-date information, contact PIFA at (215) 790-5800 or visit pifa.org.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is a PIFA collaborator on the following events

Pig Iron Theatre Company Meets Marc Chagall: One Day I'll Be French, featuring the poetry of French Symbolists, odd snatches of song, and tableware puppetry Location: Gallery Café, Perelman Building Paid tickets required$7 ($5 members and students with valid ID); after Perelman Building admission;

  • Saturday, March 5, 2011, Starts at 2:30 p.m., and 4:00 p.m. (Sold Out)
  • Sunday, March 6, 2011, Starts at 2:30 p.m., and 4:00 p.m. (Sold Out)

"You died or came out famous": Marc Chagall and the Artists of La Ruche, 1910–25 With Michael Taylor, The Muriel and Philip Berman
Friday, April 1, 2011
Starts at 6:30 p.m. Location: Van Pelt Auditorium Free tickets required after Museum admissionTo register, call (215)-235-SHOW (7469). Modern Masters: Chagall Thursday afternoons: 4 sessions, April 7, 14, 21, and 28, 1:30 - 2:30 p.m. -or- Saturdays: 2 sessions, April 16 and 30, 10:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Lecturer: Matthew Palczynski, Staff Lecturer for Western Art Location: Van Pelt Auditorium Paid tickets requiredMembers: $80 Nonmembers: $100 Convergence: A Charm of Moonlight World Premiere by Composer Thomas Pasatieri With the Pennsylvania Girlchoir and the Keystone State Boychoir Location: Great Stair Hall and Museum galleries, first floor Free after Museum admission

  • Saturday, April 9, 2011, Starts at 1:00 p.m., and 1:45 p.m., and 2:30 p.m., and 3:15 p.m.
  • Sunday, April 10, 2011, Starts at 1:00 p.m., and 1:45 p.m., and 2:30 p.m., and 3:15 p.m.

Bella: The Color of Love Location: Suzanne Roberts Theatre, Broad and Lombard Streets Paid Tickets Requierd
$29 ($25 Museum members and Philadelphia Theatre Company subscribers, or when you mention this brochure; $15 students with valid ID).
For tickets, call 215-985-0420 or visit philadelphiatheatrecompany.org. The Gershman Y joins the Philadelphia Theatre Company to present a newly commissioned theatrical cabaret about Bella Chagall, Marc Chagall's wife and muse. Written and performed by Yiddish jazz chanteuse Theresa Tova, this piece takes us into the mind of Bella and her years with Marc in Russia and Paris. It is complemented by projections of Chagall's work by designer Mary Kerr.

  • Thursday, April 28, 2011, 8:00 p.m.
  • Friday, April 29, 2011, 8:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 30, 2011, 8:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, May 1, 2011, 2:00 p.m.

The Irma and Herbert Barness lecture: Like a Pebble Tossed in a Pond: The Circle of Montparnasse and Its Ramifications With Kenneth Silver, Professor of Art History, New York University
Friday, April 29, 2011
Starts at 6:30 p.m. Location: Van Pelt Auditorium Free tickets required after Museum admissionTo register, call (215)-235-SHOW (7469).


Main Building

Organizers

This exhibition was organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and is presented in conjunction with the first annual Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA), inspired by the Kimmel Center, on the theme of "Paris: 1910-1920.

Curators

Michael Taylor • The Muriel and Philip Berman Curator of Modern Art

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