TAIPEI–The National Palace Museum (NPM) will add a little French flavor to its exhibits in the next three months as a major exhibition featuring works by Russian-born French painter Marc Chagall went on display Saturday. The exhibition, titled “Celebration by Marc Chagall,” comprises 118 pieces by the famed artist, one of the 20th century’s most revered, whose work is infused with a deep sense of love. The displayed pieces are mainly on loan from 12 public and private museums in Japan, and also from holdings of individual collectors in France and Switzerland. NPM Director Chou Kung-hsin said at a press conference Friday that given Chagall lived through some of the most turbulent times in history — namely the Russian Revolution and two world wars — it was remarkable that feelings of love still permeate throughout his work. A good example of that, Chou said, is the celebrated “L’anniversaire, “(1915) in which Chagall’s fiancée (later wife) Bella Rosenfeld surprises him with a gift of flowers. The painting shows a man floating in the air and twisting around to kiss his beloved.
“L’anniversaire,” “Moi et le Village,” and “Les Maries De La Tour Eiffel” are among the many items on display at the NPM, and will remain there until May 29, when it will be moved to the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts in Taichung. Chagall was born to a poor family in Vitebsk, Russia, in 1887, but he liked to say he was born again in Paris in 1911 when he got a studio in the La Ruche building, in the Montparnasse section of the city. His creative life spanned 98 years but yielded its first masterpieces in Paris between 1910 and 1920. Chagall was considered to be a fascinating and protean artist, a pioneer of modernism and a figurative creator whose style is independent of any school of art. His abstract, post-impressionist style, with biblical undertones and vibrant coloration, is often described by art critics as an embodiment of a deep passion for life. Chagall was the first living artist to have his work exhibited at the Louvre. Famous Spanish artist Pablo Picasso once said, “When (Henri) Matisse dies, Chagall with be the only painter left who understands what color really is.”