So far I’ve chosen a singer/songwriter, and a poet, and I wanted to round out the set with a visual artist, and another male. (I’m thinking of exploring this challenge again, drawing from female sources of inspiration.)
I’ve chosen a quote from Marc Chagall (1887-1985).
“I had only to open my bedroom window, and blue air, love, and flowers entered with her”.
(Chagall, quoted in M. Chagall, My Life, London, 2003)
And I wondered – who is “her”? His muse, his imagination, inspiration? His wife died in 1944 – perhaps he refers to his memory of her, her spirit?
I loved the imagery of his words – how they formed a poem in their own right, and how they seemed as much a work of art as his paintings.
I had only to open
my bedroom window
and blue air,
entered with her.
I can’t remember when I first discovered the work of Chagall. I don’t know how old I was, or what I was doing at the time, or how I first saw his work – book, postcard, gallery? … no idea. But I do remember being equally enraptured by the dream-like quality of his work, and then confronted by his used of colour. There are only a few pieces of his work that I could probably live with on a daily basis – but then – that’s not the point of art. The fact that I find much of his work unsettling and confronting is what draws me back to it.
And then to look for quotes by this artist, whose work I’ve found so powerful, was another discovery. I love the way he talked about colour and its importance to him.
When searching for the source of this quote, the following link was suggested by the mysteries of Google:
The Christies sale catalogue situates the quote with a brush and ink a from 1954, “Grande nu à la fenêtre”, showing a naked woman standing in front of a window, and in front of a man sketched into the background. However, I felt a closer connection to another work pictured in the catalogue, “L’inspiration de l’artiste” (circa 1980). For me, although there is no window evident, this work contains both literal references to the quote – someone flying into his space, flowers and the blue air/sky, and the sense of movement, energy and anticipation in his words. And love – well – the more I read, for Chagall, love was in everything he did.
Today, the sky was a clear vivid blue, the colour so bright it was almost tangible. The air was crisp and cold at the start of winter, here in the southern hemisphere. If I could paint, perhaps I would try to capture the icy chill, maybe using the cleanest, clearest white I could find.
If I were Chagall, perhaps I would use a colour that represented the feeling of cold – maybe a bright orange, or magenta – to show how fingers, toes and nose, once exposed to the cold, actually start to feel as though they are burning.