Wednesday, October 31, 2007

THE WORLD OF MARC CHAGALL

On the days that I work with clients on the Upper West Side, I get to visit all my favorite places I frequented in the twelve years I lived up there. One of those places was the Saint Agnes Branch of the New York Public Library. Sometimes I never made it into the main room; I’d linger in the foyer where they sell used books and magazines. There must have been a local patron or two who subscribed to Vanity Fair and Architectural Digest for years. Every time I stepped foot in that library, I came out with an issue of one or both of those mags.

Recently, while on the UWS, I spied a sign that announced a book sale in the basement of St. Agnes. Basement? I never knew they had one. They were getting ready to renovate and clearly wanted to get rid of stuff while raising funds. A steep set of stairs led down to a huge cement-floored basement that was filled with books as far as the eye could see. Heaven!

My Big Find was a book called The World of Marc Chagall, photographed by Izis Bidermanas and written by Roy McMullen. This book is incredible. It is filled with photos of Marc in action – creating sets for shows, stained glass windows, paintings, sketches, prints.

I like this passage from the preface:

"One [assumption] is that Chagall is to be taken at his word when he insists, as he often does, that his art contains a serious ‘message.’ The other is that this message is to be found in his work as a whole. There is meaning as well as entertainment in his figurative midsummer night’s dream of Vitebsk, Paris, blue moonlight, giant bouquets, weightless lovers, sad clowns, and fabulous beasts; and the same meaning emerges when we isolate fore study what he calls his ‘abstract’ colors, shapes and structures.”

I keep the book leaning against the bulletin board that sits on my desk as a constant source of inspiration.
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