Facing the Monument: Facing the Future

11 March 2015 | By Bazarov

'Bolt' and the problem of Soviet ballet, 1931

16 February 2015 | By Ivan Sollertinsky

Some Thoughts on the Ballets Russes Abroad

16 December 2014 | By Isabel Stockholm

Last Orders for the Grand Duchy

11 December 2014 | By Bazarov

Rozanova and Malevich – Racing Towards Abstraction?

15 October 2014 | By Mollie Arbuthnot

Walter Spies, Moscow 1895 – Indonesia 1942

13 August 2014 | By Bazarov

The Genius of Erte

28 April 2014 | By Rachel Hajek

Solidarity, people!

24 March 2014 | By Renée-Claude Landry

Guest Blog | Pulsating Crystals

17 February 2014 | By Robert Chandler Chandler

Guest Blog | Stenbergs' Faces

03 February 2014 | By Paul Rennie

Shostakovich: A Russian Composer?

05 December 2013 | By Bazarov

Travelling with intourist

31 July 2013 | By Richard Barling

Chagall Self-portraits at the Musée Chagall, Nice/St Paul-de-Vence

28 September 2013 | By Bazarov

Marc Chagall used the self-portrait throughout his career as a means to probe his identity, appearance and relationships. This is a different artist from the creator of epic biblical scenes or joyous folkloric reminiscences of his early life in Vitebsk, a provincial town in the Jewish Pale of Settlement of Imperial Russia.

The eyes are critical to his self-appraisal and to our response. Even when disguised as a goat or a donkey, we know we are looking at the man behind the mask. Those who knew him spoke of his powerful gaze, intent and then suddenly absent. Twin portraits are common in his work, most frequently of Chagall and his wife Bella, although in the portrait here the artist’s steady stare seems to be directed at a loopy and dysmorphic alter ego. Those multiple eyes, that extraneous foot, what do they suggest? Perhaps an artist who despite his celebrity and international travels, found it hard to settle in his own mind – one foot somewhere else, eyes over the horizon? Why should we ask, why should we care, is the work itself not sufficient as a statement? Only, I think, because his mature and finished work is so replete with personal allusions, to his Judaism, his Russian origins, his adopted France, his loves, that we have an open invitation into the artist’s identity, his sense of himself. A few miles from Nice and the temple-like Musée Chagall is the village of St Paul-de-Vence where Chagall lived during his final years. Around the streets of this heavily touristed hill town this summer are large photographs showing the artist at work and walking the steep streets. And in the modest cemetery is a plain tomb decorated with pebbles laid by visitors to form chains, clusters or hearts. These shifting designs seem to hark back to the multiple visions left us by Chagall, self-portraitist and conjurer with his own appearance.