Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Green Violinist, etc.

Marc Chagall. The Green Violinist. 198 x 108.6 cm. 1923-1924
I came to believe this particular twist of my "Autumn with Marc Chagall" -- suggesting my friends on Google+ challenge me to seven studies of individual paintings of their choice -- was a remarkably good idea (for me, at least). It forces me into studying images and effects I would have probably never decided to study "on my own" and keeps me together on rough and rowdy days. The photo albums of my "In Studio with Masters" page on Google+ document three studies I have already completed.

This painting, the green violinist, will be my next subject. The original is rather large, almost two meters high, and I am dearly tempted to do the study almost as large. Realistically, though, I'll have to confine myself to a much smaller scale, probably 24"x12" (61 x 30.5 cm). We'll see how it goes... 

There are three things that capture my attention about this painting. First, although it is linked thematically with the Liozna series of portraits (many of which were done from life), this one nearly ten years later, completed in Paris in 1923-1924. That is, it's a memory of his native village and its inhabitants, probably a nostalgic one. This maybe the reason for the basic formal contrast: that between the nearly monochrome background and the decoratively colorful figure (which the second aspect that interests me in this work); there is a hint of warm vs. cold distinction in the background, but no more than that. And finally, the color scheme of the figure is based on the opposition of three nearly pure secondary colors (violet, green and orange), with green shifted a bit towards the blue, and the violet, towards its warmer, magenta, shades. 

In studying this painting, I entertain a nearly hopeless hope: maybe I might find an answer to the question Chagall himself claimed he never knew. Namely, why is he green? If I find an answer, I'll certainly tell you...       
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