Hommage à Apollinaire
The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.
In 'Homage to Apollinaire', the Russian artist Marc Chagall has painted a large circular shape on an almost square canvas. The circle, which is divided into smaller fragments, shows a diagonal division. The top left part consists above all of warm bright colours such as red, gold and green; the part in the bottom right consists of cool colours, silver, dark blue and black. The numbers 9, 0 and 11 can be seen on the edge of the circle. Two figures are depicted in the centre of the painting, a man and a woman, but together they have only one pair of legs and the woman is holding an apple in her hand. On the bottom left of the canvas, Chagall has painted a heart with an arrow going through it. The names Canudo, G. Apollinaire, Walden and Cendrars are shown around the heart.
'Homage to Apollinaire' was painted during Chagall’s first period in Paris where he was influenced by Cubism. This influence can be seen in this painting in the way in which Chagall divides the figures and the circular shape into fragments and then joins them together again in a novel way. However, Chagall’s use of colour is more exuberant than that of the Cubists and corresponds more closely to that of painters who belong to the Fauvist school. The painting was dedicated to Apollinaire, an important art critic and champion of the new art forms which were developing in Paris at the beginning of the 20th century. Canudo, Cendrars and Walden also contributed to promoting contemporary art, so by referring to them, Chagall expressed his appreciation of innovative art.
However, Chagall’s painting also has a deeper meaning which is related both to his Jewish background and to the more contemporary vision of humanity. The circle can be seen as the globe, but because of the numbers it can also be seen as a clock face. In this way man is found at the focal point of time and space. Adam and Eve with the apple symbolize the moment of the Fall, of the consciousness of opposites such as good and evil, and also of the disruption of harmony between man and God, man and the universe. According to Chagall, man’s personal aim should be for the reuniting of opposites and the restoration of harmony. Chagall represents this with the figures of Adam and Eve, but also by means of the diagonal division of the painting and by uniting the two halves in the shape of a circle.
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