Monday, January 6, 2014

Closely looking at "Paris par la fenêtre" (Paris through the window) by Marc Chagall + Orange Shake


Paris Through the Window, 1913, Oil on Canvas, 54 inches × 56 inches
Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

Marc Chagall's painting
Paris Through the Window
A Close Look by Jack A. Atkinson

(Editor's Note) This painting by Chagall is one of my favorites. I have had a reproduction of this masterpiece rotating on and off my limited wall space for years. Chagall did not give explanations of his paintings, but felt his art was an evocation of dreams and emotions. Here I offer my best effort at a visual interpretation.  

In this painting it is clear that the artist prefers the mind, the memory, and magical symbolism over purely realistic representation. Let's now look very closely at Paris Through the Window. 

Artist Marc Chagall (Russian and Jewish) moved to Paris from Russia in 1910, but he missed his homeland tremendously. This painting shows his heartfelt longing for Mother Russia, especially the artist’s hometown of Vitebsk.


As the artist looks out of his window in Paris, we see both the interior and exterior spaces plus the past and the present. Imaginary subjects are mixed with the real. The artist was creating a self-portrait of his life in that moment. 

Shortly after arriving in Paris, Chagall, the artist, embraced the latest avant-garde styles of his new Parisian associates. Paris Through the Window is an experiment inspired by his friend, Robert Delaunay's cubistic style. Notice his use of semi-transparent cubistic blocks of color in the sky above the city and the rainbow of bright colors painted onto the window frame. 

Paris Through the Window, detail

His painting of the Eiffel Tower is a metaphor for Paris, and for Chagall the image also represents modern Western society itself. Next to the tower Chagall placed a parachutist dropping to the ground. The artist was inspired by both a recent successful test of a parachute jump off the top of the Eiffel Tower and the fact that a Russian inventor was the creator the first workable knapsack parachute. It seems likely the artist also included this man, falling from the sky  into Paris, as a reference to the leap of faith he has just taken with his new Western lifestyle and the new contemporary art forms he is now embracing. 

The 1911 test of a parachute
in Paris.


Inventor Gleb Kotelnikov.
100 years anniversary of knapsack parachute test.
Stamp of Russia, 2012.
The blue and white Janus-like figure in the lower right corner represents the artist himself, looking both forward to a new life in the West, with the blue side representing Chagall looking back towards his emotional home, Russia. In addition to the sadness his blue skin tones imply, the artist painted a golden heart shapped lockette in the palm of his blue hand. Growing from the window sill is the image of a red flower in a green field butting up next to his face, the green, green grass of home.

Paris Through the Window, detail

Chagall was so strongly influenced by his orthodox Hasidic upbringing that he almost always included images of Judaism in his paintings. His cultural and religious legacy is depicted here above the blue face. Notice the Hasidic Jewish couple floating/dancing in their traditional black clothes and hats, head to head. The Chabad Hasidim of Chagall’s childhood believed it possible to achieve communion with God through music and dance. One of the reasons the artist left Russia was the discrimination inflicted upon his family because of their Jewish faith. Tsarist soldiers occasionally were forcefully billeted in his family home in Vitebsk.

Paris Through the Window, detail


The artist’s nostalgia for his homeland is also represented by the upside down railroad train to the left of the cat in the center of the painting. This represented his inability to return home. Speaking of the yellow cat, notice its human face. The Jewish people often thought of cats as sinners who have passed on, but have returned to this life via the feline form to haunt family members.

Paris Through the Window, detail

Finally Paris is a dense city of medium height buildings and flowers were mainly for pots inside your apartment, as shown with the vase of flowers in the chair at the lower left corner of the painting.


Paris Through the Window is a magical painting full of color, meaning, emotion, excitement for life and a promise for the future. 



FOOD
Orange Shake
(like at the mall)

Ingredients
1 6-ounce can frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Directions
Mix the orange juice concentrate with 1 cup water in a large measuring cup or bowl. (You can also use 2 cups orange juice instead of this mixture.)

Transfer the orange juice to a blender. Add the milk, vanilla, both sugars and 1 cup ice and blend until smooth and frothy. Divide among 4 chilled glasses.

Until Later.
Jack
ARTSnFOOD, is an online publication dedicated to "The Pursuit of Happiness through the Arts and Food." ™ All rights reserved for all content. Concept, Original Art, Original Text & "Original or Assigned Photography" are © Copyright 2014 Jack A. Atkinson under all International intellectual property and copyright laws. All photographs were taken and/or used with permission. Artworks © individual artists, fabricators, respective owners or assignees.

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