By Sarah Coursey, Editor

Cantiques IV from Marc Chagall, photo reproduction by Year of France in Brazil website.
Cantiques IV from Marc Chagall, photo reproduction by Year of France in Brazil website.

RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil’s francophone year continues to bring top cultural programs to the Marvelous City. The work of one of France’s most well-known artistic exports, an immigrant himself, is coming to Rio. The exhibition “O Mundo Mágico de Marc Chagall – o Sonho e a Vida” (The Magical World of Marc Chagall – The Dream and the Life) is the first large-scale show of the Russian-born French painter in Brazil. The Museu Nacional de Belas Artes is set to host, with an opening on October 15.

Curated by Fábio Magalhães, 250 works will be on display. The event comes more than half a century after the artist’s first exhibit in Brazil, at the IV Bienal of the Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo (Museum of Modern Art of São Paulo), in which 25 works were on display.

The work La Fenêtre à La Campagne (1915; The Window in the Country), guache and oil on canvas, on loan from the Tretyakov Gallery in Russia, will be on display for the first time in Brazil. The sculptures Oiseau (Bird) and Poisson (Fish) respectively, both from 1964, are to be shown as well. All artwork in the show comes from private and public collections in France, Russia, Brazil, Switzerland and Italy.

Celebrated for his paintings and drawings, Chagall was born in Vitebsk, Belarus on July 7, 1887. He trained as a young man in the studio of a local portrait painter. In 1908 he studied at the Academy of Art in Saint Petersburg, and followed on to Paris in 1910, linking himself to Blaise Candars, Max Jacob and Apollinaire as well as the painters Modigliani and Delaunay.

The artist worked intensely to integrate his world of fantasies into a modern visual language, derived from Fauvism and Cubism. Important works from that period include L’Autoportrait aux Sept Doigts (1911; Self-Portrait with Seven Fingers) and Le Soldat Boit (1913, The Soldier Drinks).

It fell to Apollinaire to choose the paintings that Chagall would display in 1914 in Berlin, most of which were heavily influenced by Expressionism. As the First World War came to a head, the artist went back to Saint Petersburg and married his sweetheart, Bella.

In the same period, Chagall was painting murals for the Jewish Theater of Moscow. He returned to Paris in 1922, and by order of the publisher Ambroise Vollard, illustrated the Bible and created 96 engravings for the eponymous book titled Dead Souls, written by Gogol.

In the mid to late 30s, the climate of war in Europe and the pursuit of Jews had an effect on Chagall’s paintings. In 1941 he emigrated to the US, where just three years following his beloved wife Bella died, causing the artist a deep depression. He created the painting Autour D’Elle (1937-1945; Around Her), a requiem to his marriage which he added to in 1945 with scenes from the Stravinsky ballet “Firebird”.

Chagall returned to France in 1947, and in 1950 created stained glass windows for the synagogue of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

In the France and in the US, besides stained glass windows, the artist created mosaics, ceramics, mural and tapestries. In 1977 the French government awarded him with the prestigious cross of the Legion of Honor.

Recognized as one of the most greatest painters of the twentieth century, Marc Chagall died in Saint-Paul de Vence, in the south of France, on March 28, 1985.


October 15 – December 6
Museu Nacional de Belas Artes

Avenida Rio Branco, 199 – Centro
Tel: (21) 2240-0068 | 2262-9610


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