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Marc Chagall: quotations about love, soul and painting

Marc Chagall is widely regarded as the "poet with the wings of a painter''. And there was a reason for that. Marc Chagall was able to express his feelings with both color and word. He wrote poems and books, he could make a speech in public and answer the interview questions. Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky once said to the artist: "My dear Chagall, you’re a good guy, but you talk too much." And the master admitted that with age he did not improve.
Marc Chagall: quotations about love, soul and painting
"If I create with my heart almost all my intentions remain. If it is with the head — almost nothing. An artist must not fear to be himself, to express only himself. If he is absolutely and entirely sincere, what he says and does will be acceptable to others."
Marc Chagall
One fine day (but all days are fine) as my mother was putting the bread in the oven, I went up to her, and taking her by her flour-smeared elbow I said to her, "Mama… I want to be a painter".

My name is Marc, my emotional life is sensitive and my purse is empty, but they say I have talent.

Neither Imperial Russia, nor the Russia of the Soviets needs me. They don’t understand me. I am a stranger to them. I’m certain Rembrandt loves me.

In my youth, poverty enriched me, but now I can afford wealth.

Is not painting merely a reflection of our inner persona and, by this alone, does it not relegate the mastery of the brush into second place? This means little here. Colour and its lines imbibe both your character and your message.

The stars were my best friends. The air was full of legends and phantoms, full of mythical and fairy tale creatures, which suddenly flew away over the roof, so that one was at one with the firmament.

My hands were too soft… I had to find some special occupation, some kind of work that would not force me to turn away from the sky and the stars, that would allow me to discover the meaning of life.
The habit of ignoring Nature is deeply implanted in our times. This attitude reminds me of people who never look you in the eye; I find them disturbing and always have to look away.

Great art picks up where nature ends.

All our interior world is reality, and that, perhaps, more so than our apparent world.
I don’t know if color chose me or I chose color, but since childhood I’ve been married to color in its pure state.

Color is all.
When color is right, form is right. Color is everything, color is vibration like music; everything is vibration.

All colors are the friends of their neighbors and the lovers of their opposites.

Despite all the troubles of our world, in my heart I have never given up on the love in which I was brought up or on man’s hope in love. In life, just as on the artist’s palette, there is but one single colour that gives meaning to life and art — the colour of love.

In the arts, as in life, everything is possible provided it is based on love.

I do not believe that scientific aims serve the cause of art well. Impressionism
No doubt, you know about Impressionism a lot: you could mention the names of the famous artists and find with ease the exhibition at museums with gleaming water surface and the same image painted in different time of the day and of course you know the scandalous history of the First Impressionist Exhibition and could distinguish Monet and Manet. So, it is high time to switch to the next level: some additional details you would like to know about Impressionism. Read more
and Cubism
Avant-garde is how modern art critics refer the general trend of new artistic directions that arose in world art at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. A very thin line separates it from the concept of “modernism”. Read more
The art movement developed in the first quarter of the 20th century, mainly in Italy and Russia. Some ironically called it scandalous cubism. The founding fathers urged to stop adoring the art of the past, and to exalt the industrial spirit of the future: to draw airplanes, cars, metal bridges, steamers and other achievements of the progress. Read more
Cubism (fr. cubisme) is a recognizable art movement that originated at the beginning of the 20th century, and many of its techniques are still in demand. Its distinctive features are the direct use of geometric shapes, a narrow circle of subjects (portraits, still lifes or buildings), deformation, angularity, complete lack of realism. In Cubism, shape is more important than colour. Read more
are alien to me. It seem to me that art is first and foremost a condition of the soul.
  • Marc Chagall. Paris through the window, 1913
  • Marc Chagall. The Magician, 1968
Only love interests me, and I am only in contact with things that revolve around love.

I’ve always painted pictures in which human love floods my colors.

Everything in art must spring from the movement of our whole life-stream, of our whole being — including the unconscious.

If a symbol should be discovered in a painting of mine, it was not my intention. It is a result I did not seek. It is something that may be found afterwards, and which can be interpreted according to taste.

When I am finishing a picture, I hold some God-made object up to it — a rock, a flower, the branch of a tree or my hand — as a final test. If the painting stands up beside a thing man cannot make, the painting is authentic. If there’s a clash between the two, it’s a bad art.

Love and fantasy go hand in hand.

  • Marc Chagall. To My Wife, 1933-44
  • Marc Chagall. Over the town, 1918
"But perhaps my art is the art of a lunatic, I thought, mere glittering quicksilver, a blue soul breaking in upon my pictures."

"I had only to open my bedroom window, and blue air, love, and flowers entered with her."
Marc Chagall. Self-portrait with Muse (Dream)
Marc Chagall. Blue lovers
1914, 49×44 cm
Marc Chagall. Green lovers
1915, 48×45.5 cm
Marc Chagall. Artist: the moon
1917, 32×30 cm
Marc Chagall. Bride with a fan
1911, 45.7×38.1 cm
"My mother’s love for me was so great I have worked hard to justify it."

Marc Chagall. Motherhood
1913, 193×116 cm
For me Christ has always symbolized the true type of the Jewish martyr.

If I weren’t a Jew then I wouldn’t be an artist, or at least not the one I am now.
Marc Chagall. Green Jew
1914, 98×78 cm
Marc Chagall. Red jew
1915, 100×80.5 cm
Marc Chagall. The praying Jew. The Rabbi Of Vitebsk
"I am a little Jew of Vitebsk.
All that I paint, all that I do, all that I am, is just the little Jew of Vitebsk."
The dignity of the artist lies in his duty of keeping awake the sense of wonder in the world. In this long vigil he often has to vary his methods of stimulation; but in this long vigil he is also himself striving against a continual tendency to sleep.

It is not for me to explain them. Works of art should speak for themselves.

You could wonder for hours what flowers mean, but for me, they’re life itself, in all its happy brilliance. We couldn’t do with out flowers. Flowers help you forget life’s tragedies.
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Title illustration: Marc Chagall. Cow with Umbrella. 1946

Based on materials: "My life" by Marc Chagall (1922); Marc Chagall: Between Paris and Vitebsk by Ivan Kenneally (2013).