Marc Chagall – the painter as light-bearer

by Geoff Hall on January 11, 2011

Christ and the Artist (the artist and his model) 1951


After spending 6 hours going around the Vatican Museum, I came across the contemporary art collection, which included one of my favourite artists, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.  Just around the corner from his work a painting by Chagall caught my eye.  Christ and the Artist (the artist and his model) was a sublime moment from the miles of corridors in the museum.

It speaks profoundly about understanding the artist and their role model, Christ.  It also suggests that the role of the artist is to vanquish the darkness of paganism.  Is it also a self-portrait?  Does it suggest that artists will suffer for their work of redemption, of bringing light into the world?

We know from the richness of our experiences, that this is the case.  The way of the artist is not paved with gold, untold riches and fame, but with struggles and turmoil as well as the odd victory.  If those looking from outside the artist’s world think it is a cop out from a proper job and a 9 to 5 existence, then this point-of-view simply reveals a lack of knowledge for our work in the world today.

Whilst we struggle, we also realise that resurrection is on its way.  In pondering the suffering of others, or being like Christ in suffering for redemption, we will invariably bring light to the world, if we understand that the suffering of humanity has a connection with the sufferings of Christ.  Chagall, of whom I know little, takes a Modern and profound understanding of colour and places it back in time to the brutal age of Roman oppression and aggression, against its perceived enemies.

Chagall is an artist that warrants my further study.  I’m enthralled by his knowledge of colour and how he expresses his spirituality.

One comment

You may be interested to learn that Chagall was a very dedicated Jew and originally in this painting the traditional 'IRNI' – the Hebrew acronym for 'King of the Jews' above Jesus' head was replaced with 'Marc Ch' – his signature. What was a Jewish painter doing identifying with the Saviour of his oppressors? All very interesting…

by Anonymous on April 16, 2011 at 10:25 pm. Reply #

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