With its collections of ancient, modern and contemporary art, the Musée de Grenoble offers you a chance to traverse the history of western painting from the 13th to the 20th centuries. Included are major masterpieces of classical Flemish, Dutch, Italian and Spanish painting; one of 20th century Europe’s richest collections; and all the great post-1945 contemporary art trends, right up to the most recent artworks of the 2000s.
For a very long time, Marc Chagall would remain attached to his country of origin, Russia, and even if he spent the bulk of his life in France, first in Paris and then in Vence, in the south, he would return ‘home’ and carry out official functions between 1914 and 1922. Among the bodies of work of the Ecole de Paris artists, Chagall’s art remains imbued with a very personal philosophy and poetic force. The observation of day-to-day reality through the prism of Fauve and Cubist influences combined is conveyed by a “total lyrical explosion”, to borrow Andre Breton’s expression.
Chagall evolves from his inner reality towards a world encompassing figures which sidestep any verisimilitude, as for example in Midsummer Night’s Dream. Painted during the artist’s Parisian period, the theme of this picture is William Shakespeare’s comedy, which the painter situated in a dream-like forest inhabited by sylphs and lovers. The bewitched queen of the fairies, Titania, falls for a donkey-headed weaver, Bottom. The woman clad in a white wedding gown and a veil recurs in almost identical form in several pictures from that period, sometimes with the same blue fan. Winged beings and violinists are also often depicted.
Resorting to the fabulous reconciles the image of reality with fable. The naivety of the perspective-less composition combines with the contrast of juxtaposed touches of colour to create a “magical” pictorial space.
Marc Chagall, Vitebsk (Belorus)
Midsummer Night’s Dream, 1939
Crédit photographique : Jean-Luc Lacroix/Musée de Grenoble