CHAGALL: THE EARLY ETCHINGS FROM THE 1920sHaving just returned from an inspiring lecture given by Christopher With, (a lecturer recently retired from the National Gallery of Art), in the Mitchell Gallery, my appreciation for Chagall’s long and successful survival, not only as a victim of world politics, but also as a pilgrim in a vastly changing art world, was enhanced significantly.
|Marc Chagall (1887-1985) The Little Fish and the Fisherman, 1927. Etching|
The les Fauves, or “wild beasts” was a loose group of early twentieth-century artists led by Henri Matisse and André Derain. Their works, influenced by Impressionism, use arbitrary colors over realistic ones, and representational, but free flowing shapes and contours. Though the Fauves’ flame was brief (1900-1910), its fire was powerful enough to enable artists to think in possibilities beyond strict representational compositions and color. Some of these elements are evident in Chagall’s etchings as each continuous line finds a delicate contour to outline a face that might be recognizable, but also allows the flexibility to be a loose geometric shape integrated to the composition's particular and general details.
Seen in Chagall’s etching, The Little Fish and the Fisherman from La Fontaine’s "Fables," is a floating fish with the profile of the fisherman. In some ways the illustration seems child-like, but when one looks closely to the attention and dedication he has given to each line and shape, the composition is balanced between the variation in contrasts from light to dark, thick to thin line, and the seemingly carefree contour he has given the fish and fisherman. No explanation is needed about the work's content, but it is enhanced by the fable that accompanies the image. Further, Chagall makes no explanation, apology or judgment. Sometimes the simple message is the best one.
Come see for yourself! There are many events taking place throughout this exhibition which remains on view through December 17, 2015. See our website: www.sjc.edu/mitchellgallery