Marc Chagall: 1887-1985
I and the Village: 1911
Marc Chagall was a Russian-Jewish painter. Marc Chagall was one of the best artists of the Russian Avant-Garde movement at the turn of the 19th century. Marc Chagall painted in a unique colourful fantastical style using elements of Expressionism, Symbolism, Cubism and Modernism.
Marc Chagall produced thousands of paintings using different techniques and media. Marc Chagall was born in Belarus, and became a French citizen in 1909. He grew up in a small village and his rural upbringing informed in many of his paintings, including ‘I and the Village’, which he painted in Paris in 1911. The village in the painting is the village where he grew up. The appointing is 75 x 59 inches (or 192 cm x 191 cm).
There are aspects of Cubism (the use of simple geometric shapes for more than one viewpoint) in, “I and the Village”. The objects in the painting are: a village, people and animals. Objects are superimposed over one another, and assembled in what appears to be a random and chaotic order. Chagall’s work has a dreamlike and other worldly flavor even though he employs recognizable everyday objects and settings.
‘I and the Village’ is a dream scene of livestock, fields, a farmer, a violinist, and country cottages. All are trademarks or rural life. Some of the objects are upside-down. Colors are bold and almost circus-like in their tone and shade. The symbolism in the piece is rich and multi layered: a green-faced man, with a cross around his neck, a peasant’s cap is holding a tree, the head of a goat, an Orthodox church, and a man in black with a scythe, a woman upside down playing a violin. Chagall deftly integrated symbols of Eastern European folk culture and Russian and Yiddish culture in “I and the Village”.
The cosmic geometric shapes in “I and the Village” are: The small and large circles (the sun’s revolution, and the earth’s revolution around the sun), together with the moon’s revolution around the earth. The smaller circle could be a lunar eclipse.
Marc Chagall’s work beautifully illustrates the relationship between beings and the world, both the real and the cosmic world above. It shows the beneficial vital relationship between humans, animals, plants and the earth and sun.
“I and the Village” is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.