Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The first Chagall study: The Birthday

Marc Chagall. The birthday. 1915. (80.5 x 99.5 cm)
As you may or may not remember, last week I announced the next stage in my Chagall studies – seven studies of individual painting suggested by G+-users. This suggestion came later than the previous post had been written, but it is the earliest Chagall's work chronologically, so that's what I began with. 

The Birthday after Marc Chagall. 2012. 30.5 x 40.6 cm.
Here, on the left, is the result of my efforts (this is a preliminary photo, which I hope to replace with a better one when the paint is dry and we arrange a proper photo session).

On the way, I regretted more than once that I decided to do it on a smaller scale – each side is 2.5 times less than in the original canvas. It wouldn't have been a problem, per say, if the painting hadn't been so uncharacteristically heavy on decorative details, which are very important for the overall motive of the painting. Maybe I'll return to this work on one-to-one scale later, if I still have it in me after six other studies...

In the end, I had to reduce these details to a more impressionistic treatment, since I absolutely hated the idea of replicating them on a smaller scale; it's not exactly what I wanted to learn from Chagall. Another core difference between my study and Chagall's original is in the treatment of white: I didn't use the white of the support so heavily, and my whites are considerably more colorful, impressionistic as it were – so, to some extent, I lose Chagall's play on the contrast between black vs. white, on the one hand, and primary colors, on the other.

But, after all, Chagall himself insists that "how" is unimportant and negligible in comparison to "what", and I hope to have captured, to some extent, the mood and spirit of "The Birthday": the birthday of the artist's young bride, in a small room with some attempts at decoration, in the middle of the First World War, which threatens to ruin all the little comforts they have. Except their love...  

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