The Artist As an Old Man

Marc Chagall is one of the greatest colorists in painting history. In his best work he surprises all the time with unlikely, childishly bright and happy colors. He lived to be very old and kept creating new designs and new colors right up until the end. Most artists, even geniuses, burn out with age. They repeat themselves, they lose vigor, even if they go on covering canvases with paint. The years went by and Chagall —at 60, at 70, at 80….at 90!–seemed to get better and better. Only after years of painting did he realize that COLOR was to be the real hero of his dreamy paintings.

Nowadays, for some reason, you usually see only his early work reproduced. Or the facile engravings and self-imitations he sometimes perpetrated. But it is his late work—the work he did after about age 45 or 50—that ought to be exhibited everywhere.

Lovers by Marc Chagall


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4 Responses to The Artist As an Old Man

  1. I love this story, and the one about Chagall and Picasso. And “Lovers” is so dreamy and gorgeous, it’s a little hard to look away. I’ve never seen it before.

  2. 100swallows says:

    I wish I could put about a hundred of Chagall’s paintings here for you, Moonbeam. Many of the best ones are not even in Google or in the books on Chagall. I have never understood why they always select the worst ones.
    I suspect they have been originally chosen and passed on by art historians, who are often without eyes of their own.

  3. Lindy says:

    I am writing a research (powerpoint presentation) paper on Marc Chagall for my Art History class. I would like to find the best Chagall artworks and some stories that will interest my classmates and professor. Where can I find the story Moonbeam enjoyed about Chagall and Picasso? Where can I find the overlooked Chagalls?

  4. 100swallows says:

    Lindy: The best ones I ever saw brought together are in a book edited by Jacob Baal-Teshuva called Chagall: A Retrospective, (Hugh Lauter Levin Associates, Inc., 1995) in Beaux Arts Editions. Try to find it at Abebooks, for instance. It is a medium-priced artbook but the reproductions and the selection are first-rate.
    The story about Picasso and Chagall comes from Life with Picasso by FranÇoise Gilot and Carlton Lake. It is excerpted on page 268 of the Chagall book above.

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