Storia dell'Arte

The National Marc Chagall and the Marc Chagall story

Created by the will of Marc Chagall on his biblical work; an artist whose art and life have a unique thread.

Marc Chagall, L'Eden, Genesi 1,26
Marc Chagall, L’Eden, Genesi 1,26

The Marc Chagall National Museum was created to house the works of Marc Chagall (1887-1985).

A need first felt by André Malraux at the time at the head of the French Ministry of Culture during 1969.

The good intuition to arrange the foundation of this museum followed the donation by the naturalized French painter of the collection of paintings among biblical subject: the paintings inspired by the biblical message were in fact donated to the French State by the painter himself.

The city of Nice made available for the project a vast plot of land where there were the ruins of a villa abandoned from the beginning of the century, the gov. of the city considered it was the case, in view of the construction of the museum,

The museum project was followed by the painter himself who asked for the construction of an auditorium and this was agreed.

The museum was been inaugurated in 1973 at the presence of Marc Chagall himself and of Maurice Druon at the time in office as minister; it constitutes the largest public collection of Marc Chagall paintings.

Organized on the series of works produced by the painter on the themes of the Old Testament, it also has a good number of works of secular or religious inspiration: over 400 paintings, drafts, drawings and pastels ; many works were added to the collection in the following years also thanks to the interest of Marc Chagall him in person, making the Museum in Nizza “one of a kind” and attesting it as a reference point for the Chagallian universe .

The museum, formerly known as the Biblical Message Museum, has taken the name of Musée national Marc Chagall from 2005 .

According to the layout we know, it should offer visitors a first room containing twelve large paintings illustrating the first two books of the Old Testament, namely Genesis and Exodus.

In a second room, smaller and hexagonal, there would be five compositions still on the testamentary topic.

For the technical notes we point out the audio guides, available in French, English, German, Italian, Russian, Japanese, Chinese and free admission, for everyone on the first Sunday of each month, usually for citizens of the member states of the European community younger than 26. Finally the address: Musée national Marc Chagall, Avenue du Docteur Ménard, 06000 Nice, FR.

The opening hours: 10 am to 6 pm (until 5 pm from November to April), the closing day is Tuesday. In the past, the museum has been temporarily closed from 22 September 2015 to 1 January 2016.

A segment on Marc Chagall

The fresh and childish “style” of Chagall is in sharp separation from the school where he studied in St. Petersburg the “Imperial Academy of Arts” and also it seems seriously be in contrast to political ideology at that time at the power, in other words Marc Chagall does not conform to “Suprematism” .

Elettra Nicodemi

I would like to give a more precise picture just to make you understand, so let me tell you something, now I am going to to relate this story, the story of Marc Chagall, from a moment on.

We are in 1920, in Russia, to be precise in St. Petersburg and to be more precise, Vitebsk is the district where March Chagall is commissioner of art; the appointment as Commissioner of Art for the Vitebsk region came directly from the Soviet Minister for Culture, Mr. Lunačarskij.

Marc Chagall is an important person, if to say that he is a personality is a little too stretch, one could say that he is a rather well-known person in the field of culture; during the Russian revolution he participated working in the Ministry of War to replace military service.

He is also one who has traveled, infact he has been in the ville lumière, has made an exhibition in Berlin, and at the moment, when we are now in this story when Chagall is commissioner for art, he has recently founded the “Free Academy of Art” and through this channel of comunication represented by the Academy he carries on his message, the same one he found in Paris, the city he went in 1910, because he has been kicked out from St. Petersburg because he is a Russian Jew and, for those who do not know, the Jews unfortunately already at that time they could not stay in St. Petersburg except with a special permit and in any case for a short period.

Chagall’s message is simple, clear, univocal, it is to carry on your art, whatever it is, you must freely show your artistic spirit.

And this was what he, thank goodness, had managed to do in France, on the journey started in 1910.

As an old sage says, similar people are found and he had found Montparnasse just as Montparnasse had found him; March Chagall, born in Lëzna near Vitebsk, where Yiddish is spoken, when it was still the nineteenth century.

Marc Chagall met with people before the period from which this story begins, 1920 and certainly even after.

When he worked at the Ministry of War, he met Boris Pasternak, the writer of the book Doctor Zhivago, then  Esenin and Mayakovsky, whose poems deserve to be read at least once in order to say I had lived.

In other words, some of the writers of novels and poems that still show Russia to the whole world today.

And in Paris in the journey of 1910 he made friends with Guillaume Apollinaire, Robert Delaunay, Fernand Léger and Eugeniusz Zak , people with whom he shared the research he carried out with his artistic enthusiasm, the search for invisible things , for everything that you can feel , but do not try with “proofs” of what can be perceived, but not explained.

And perhaps it is one of his French friends to describe his painting in an appropriate way, that is, with a definition that is strangely not at all limiting and at the same time will be good for all the Chagall that I have seen, Guillaume Apollinaire defines Chagall’s painting “supernatural”; others will say of his paintings “dreamlike“; I feel like saying that the colors of Chagall I have never seen them elsewhere, nothing else.

Whatever it is, you see, it is precisely the colors that he goes to ask for in St. Petersburg, he needs it for his Free Academy of Art, just as he needs bread and money and it is on his return that he is put on the street.

The government requisitioned the Academy and made it a school of Suprematism, in line with the ideology of the government, in line with the increasingly pressing, totalitarian, populist operations, suffocating, stupid, unjust, incredibly stupid to think that the art can be put aside, can be silenced, so stupid as to believe that we can teach what is the right way to make art; so idiotic as to believe it is possible to wipe out the last 500 years of Philosophy and return artists to be craftsmen.

Thus, Marc Chagall like all those who find themselves unjustly spending a bad quarter of an hour due to powerful or domineering, decides to move, he goes to Moscow with Bella Rosenfeld the woman he married five years earlier and with Ida, their daughter aged four.

Then, when the good time comes, when the window opens – and that window opens in 1923 – it leaves Russia, their half is Paris.

Maybe he too had heard that old adage of literature that reads, Heroes? Let the heroes die, so when the window on the way to freedom came at the hands of an ambassador from Lithuania, Chagall again leaves Russia, it is 1923.

First stop, before arriving in France: Berlin.

There he stays briefly and in a painful way; the First World War left an indelible mark, his paintings those he had left in the German capital during the return journey from his first period in Paris, are nowhere to be found; he has to give them up for lost or destroyed, and it’s terrible.

The story is still long before we get to pick up the thread of the facts from where we left them, when we talked above about the inauguration of the museum dedicated to him in France, in the city of Nice .

I am sure there will be an opportunity to talk about it again, about all this story that lies in the middle, just as I am sure that Marc Chagall never forgot the joy he felt before marrying Bella and before the war began, the joy during the day he met his parents again when he returned from his first trip to Paris, because they had let him follow his dreams and his dreams were true as men.

past and ongoing exhibitions on Chagall

Among past and ongoing exhibitions on Chagall, Inside The Staircase previously followed the one at Palazzo Mazzetti (Asti, Italy) entitled Marc Chagall, Color and Magic and reports On the land of the gods. Marc Chagall and the Greek world at the Musée National Marc Chagall ,


The exhibition had been open from Thursday 27 September 2018, open until 3 February 2019, except for extensions not received by us, and consisted of a selection of 150 works on an exhibition itinerary attentive to the chronology and major themes of the artist.

L ‘ love, the war , the religion were some of the topics covered in the three sections made in order to recognize the universe Chagall .

The exhibition was created by the Asti Musei Palazzo Mazzetti Foundation, the Cassa di Risparmio di Asti Foundation and the Piedmont Region, with the collaboration of Arthemisia and the patronage of the Municipality of Asti,


It is currently set up by Anne Dopffer and Jean-Baptiste Delorme, On the land of the gods.

Marc Chagall and the Greek world which includes a series rarely exhibited, these are the works created following the artist’s travels to Greece (in 1952 and 1954), from which numerous projects arose and which tighten Marc’s relationship with ancient Greek literature. On display, among other things, the illustrated books, the monumental mosaic for the Faculty of Law of Nice, the sets and costumes of the ballet  Dafni and Cloe  for the Opéra.

The master of Vence took possession of these classics of Mediterranean culture such as the Homeric poems, creating the works now exhibited in Nice.

On Montparnasse I also wrote Amedeo +100, the anniversary is of all Livorno

On March Chagall I also wrote The Independents of Paris (or l’école parisienne)

If you liked the story of Marc Chagall you might interest another article of mine Egon Schiele and Paul Klee between bats and insect

Italian readers are kindly invited to visit page 2

I lettori in lingua italiana sono gentilmente invitati a visitare pagina 2

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