One of the most famous representatives of the avant-garde movement in 20th century art was born in the suburbs of Vitebsk on July 6, 1887. He later moved to France, but a museum dedicated to his work was expectedly opened in his hometown. A multi-talented man, he was fond of drawing, painting, stenography, and wrote poetry in his native Yiddish. The house-museum of Marc Chagall in Vitebsk has become a real hymn to the creative work of the famous countryman.
History of the Marc Chagall Museum
Chagall’s work is ambiguous, memories are like a kaleidoscope, captured in paintings, where there is always that note of childhood. For the little genius, the constant turmoil in the house and the shop, the loving mother, who looked favorably on his first creative experiments, but constantly inclined to a more practical profession and grandmothers, just happy that the boy remained alive, despite being born very weak, became the very inspiration.
Surrounded by the love and care of his family, he paid no attention to the fact that the family was considered poor after the war. He didn’t care that of the four houses that were left after the fires, one was made of red brick. It eventually became the main body of the museum.
The artist’s work was immediately accepted in Moscow. To get into an exhibition of his work, you had to wait in line, and in his home country his “strange paintings, far from life” were subjected to public discussion, which made it difficult to create exhibitions. The Marc Chagall Museum, after much hard work by many enlightened people of the time, was finally opened in his childhood home on Pokrovskaya Street. Later, the Art Gallery opened.
The artist’s life was full of changes and moves, after studying in St. Petersburg a talented student was sent for an internship in France, then he returned home, moved to Moscow. After he resigned as head of the Vitebsk Art School, he left again with his wife for Europe, no longer planning to return. All of these stages of life can be seen in his paintings. One of the first exhibitions of works was held in Kaunas in 1922, but it was 75 years before a museum was opened in Vitebsk. Only in 1997, it was possible to show the connoisseurs all the variety of creativity of the master.
Marc Chagall Museum Exhibits
The first paintings and sketches were made by Chagall exactly in his childhood home. A favorite window seat offered a wonderful view. In the master’s paintings, the image of the window frame as a symbol of exit into another reality often flashed. Elements of domesticity permeated many canvases, such as Birthday. Remarkably, the carpet pictured on it still hangs on the wall in the museum room.
Besides him, there are many other things in the house that have migrated to the canvases: a table lamp, kitchen utensils, and a wall clock. The main purpose of the museum is to show the artist as a person, to tell about the formation of his skill and the peculiarities of his style. That is why, along with copies of paintings, the place of honor occupied by archival documents, personal belongings, fragmentarily recreated the situation in the rooms. There are 5 of them in total, the artistic design is by Yuri Chernyak.
The mood is created long before visitors enter the museum itself. At the beginning of Pokrovskaya Street there is a monument to the artist. There is a grocery store at the entrance to the premises. It is now a souvenir shop, but once it was where the artist’s mother sold more practical goods.
“The Boys’ Room” focuses on the painter’s biography before his departure for Paris. In addition to furnishings and family photos, here are the first attempts of the pen, sketches, poems dedicated to parents.
In the living room is also preserved part of the furnishings, showing that they did not live richly, but in respect and harmony, which left a mark on the artist’s soul for life. In the Red Room, of interest is the painted tableware, which was donated by the artist’s nieces, and the antique wall clock. Copies of family photographs detail Marc Chagall’s journey from the moment he left his hometown to his final years in Paris. In the kitchen, the young artist often sat by the stove, trying his hand at drawing.
The house is surrounded by a small well-kept garden with an allegorical monument to the artist. He plays the violin of memories, part of which is made in the form of the Eiffel Tower. The master relies on the mythical figure of a strange animal that simultaneously resembles a donkey and a goat. This image is found in several paintings, and it was taken as the basis for sculptor Valery Mighty.
The Marc Chagall Museum in Vitebsk is actively engaged in educational activities:
- International Shagalov Readings;
- traveling exhibitions devoted to the art of the 20th-21st century;
- during the summer months there is a school for young talents.
Marc Chagall Art Center
It is located on Putna Street. Only it has the original works of Chagall, their number is impressive – about 300, including sketches, engravings, sketches, lithographs, illustrations. The exhibits were donated by relatives and concerned people from other countries, in particular the philanthropist Dr. Heinrich Mandel from Germany. Unlike the museum house, filming in the art center is forbidden.
In addition to Chagall’s works, the halls also house works by other representatives of avant-garde art: Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Juan Miró.
In addition to the visual row, a library dedicated to the work of the famous countryman and the art of the 20th century as a whole was opened in 2002.
Opening hours and how to get to the Marc Chagall Museum
You can walk through the rooms of the house and the halls of the center from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Weekends depend on the season. From April to October, the museum has only one day off, Monday. In the cold of winter, Tuesday is also added to it. You can visit the exhibition halls alone or as part of a group, the prices of tickets to clarify the cashier, they are quite affordable. You can book a thematic tour in advance or enjoy the atmosphere of the museum in quiet contemplative silence.
The house-museum, where the artist spent his childhood and youth, is located at 11 Pokrovskaya Street.
The Art Center is located on Putna St., 2.