Marc Chagall National Museum in Nice, France

Marc Chagall Museum Nice

Marc Chagall’s works provide me with an overarching sense of completeness. There is something so transfixing and moving about his art.

Prior to visiting the Marc Chagall National Museum in Nice I had little knowledge of the artist. His name seemed extremely important and I had no idea why. Perhaps I had studied some of his works in school? But for some reason I could not formulate his style in my head nor visualize his subject matter.

Marc Chagall Museum Nice

Upon entering the Marc Chagall Museum I was blown away. The audio guide makes Chagall’s works even more tangible to the viewer and I loved the journey it took me on. The reader unravels a more analytic approach to each work which will appeal to art lovers and those curious to unravel visual metaphors and below the surface meanings.

Marc Chagall Museum Nice

I motioned from painting to painting – mostly massive in size – and then I returned to each, letting each sink in slowly. I absorbed each like a sponge. Memorizing each, I made mental notes of the vibrancy, buoyancy and colorful nature of the works not to mention their grounding in important Judeo-Christian stories.

Even for those who are not religious there is a lot of meaning and substance to take away from Chagall’s works. These are not only highly beautiful pieces of art but they too capture moral lessons which are universally understood.

The aqua and azures that dominate the former rooms of the gallery are mesmerizing. Angels, white rainbows, animals, nature and people are just some of the subject matter conveying significant religious themes.

Marc Chagall Museum Nice

For me, the most beautiful of rooms was the small red room housing four or five of Chagall’s works – all in a contrasting colour to his usual blue hues. This tiny room presents one of the most profound experiences in the gallery. In fact, Chagall himself chose the placement of works in this room. And as a result, this makes it even more significant. The red room represents the Song of Songs from the Old Testament. There is a beautiful innocence, playfulness and marked delicateness to be found in these works. They praise the beauty of love, the transfixing nature of this state and the overall joys of life. Man and woman are united, coupled with animals who similarly make a harmonious appearance.

Chagall doesn’t completely lose sight of his blue tones here. There are striking blue/green brush strokes in the hair of the female subject matter, the animals and in the faces of the featured union of man and woman.

Marc Chagall Museum Nice

Freedom is a motif within these paintings and is evinced by birds and their wings and also in the motioning unicorn with its wings and the embracing couple on its back.

There is something extremely intimate about this room. You are in a small space observing the utter magic of Chagall’s works and you cannot really move away since the works are so alluring, they force you to keep looking, always in astonishment. I must admit that I found it very difficult to depart the Song of Songs room. I had to go back and peep by the entrance to catch a final glimpse of these enchanting red canvases before leaving.

Chagall makes the values of religion accessible to all within his works. He doesn’t focus on the struggle or anguish of life but instead exposes an optimism together with a display of our primordial instinct and desire for love, compassion and understanding of one another.

Marc Chagall Museum Nice

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Elizabeth Joss

Elizabeth Joss is the founder and main writer at The Museum Times. She works as a university lecturer by day and is an avid travel blogger and arts and culture enthusiast by night. Elizabeth started The Museum Times out of the need to give smaller, lesser-known museums more exposure.

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4 Comments

  1. This is so very similar to my encounter with Chagall! I visited this museum last May, having little knowledge of the artist, and was overwhelmed by these huge and powerful paintings. And I found the Canticle series in the red room enchanting and moving as well. Thanks for sharing your experience, evokes wonderful memories for me!

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