Paris through the Window

7:00 PM

Marc Chagall, Paris through the Window, 1913
By ISABEL THOMAS

In a post last year, I talked about Marc Chagall's adoration of Bella Rosenfeld—with his lyrical descriptions of their love and his numerous sacrifices to bring her with him while he built his art career. Paris through the Window depicts a time when the two were separated by 1,500 miles, three years after Chagall moved to Paris to take advantage of its artistic opportunities.

Despite the bright colors in Paris through the Window, Chagall faced an inner-conflict when he painted it. He was caught between two nations and two cultures, and the man in the bottom-right corner embodies Chagall's identity, split between Liozna and Paris. The side of his face looking west at France is blue, but the left half of the painting contains so much beauty and brilliance. The man's right side faces east to his native Russia and his Bella. The couple floating in front of the Eiffel Tower—with the man to the west and the woman to the east—represents Chagall and Bella, floating in ethereality of love despite their separation.

An early work of Chagall, Paris through the Window includes many of the artist's characteristic aspects, such as floating couples, playful cityscapes, and vibrant colors. Like his love for Bella, much of Chagall's style remained throughout his career. He maintained his brightness through wars, displacement, Bella's death, and the genocide of his people. Chagall always looked both forward to the future and back at his heritage—split like the man in his painting from decades before his biggest heartbreak.

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