in the South of France, particularly on the sun-kissed French Riviera.
Most of them have to do with the exhilarating gifts Mother Nature showered
on this sacred ground, good graces that seem almost too improbable to be real.
So maybe that was my excuse for putting off a visit to the Marc Chagall Museum
for so long, lingering instead on all-things-beneath-the-sky-so-blue.
It took a third trip to Nice to reshuffle my priorities.
As a long-time fan of Chagall, I finally -- and wisely -- realized there
was no need to wait for a rainy day to discover some new favorites
in the very museum he personally curated to bear his name.
Showcasing the world's largest collection of his work,
the Musée Marc Chagall is an art-lover's dream.
A few hours here feels like a walk with the great master himself.
"When Henri Matisse dies, Chagall will be the only painter left who understands
what color really is. I'm not crazy about his roosters and asses and flying violinists,
and all the folklore, but his canvases are really painted, not just thrown together.
Some of the last things he's done in Vence convince me that there's never
been anybody since Renoir who has the feeling for light that Chagall has."
It's bursting with life, as close to an injection of vitamin B12 as you can find. Located on Cimiez Hill, Marc Chagall's sunny gallery is just a
short bus ride away from the Old Town neighborhood in central Nice.
A beloved national treasure, the gallery opened in 1973
under the direct influence of the artist.
Since Chagall lived in nearby Saint-Paul-de-Vence, he was able to
propel his artistic energy and unique vision into the project.
Believing "great art picks up where nature ends"
Chagall was the perfect artist to wave his magic wand.
He built upon his multicolored vision of Nice, recasting the city's
inspirational backdrop into a contemporary art museum
space filled with as much sunshine and color as the city itself.
Natural light -- the kind this part of France is so famous
for -- streams into the building.
You can literally see it, much like the movie version of God's light
that shines down on our favorite Biblical characters.
Speaking of the Bible, taking center stage, Chagall's museum
contains his "Bible Cycle" of works.
It includes 17 paintings the artist created in the '50's and '60's, works that
conjure up visions from Genesis, Exodus and the Song of Solomon.
You'll meet all your favorites including Abraham, Moses, Jacob and a host of angels. It reminded me of the vivid Sunday School stories I learned as a child.
The brightly hued colors and simple shapes bring to mind the
fanciful imaginings of a young and innocent mind.
His legendary art may not even be his greatest accomplishment.
Staying alive through wartime and loss, living until the ripe old age
of nearly ninety-eight verges on the superhuman.
Born in Liozna Russia (now Belarus) in 1887, Chagall -- given name
Moishe, Movcha or Moses* -- found a way out of poverty and a marginal life.
Living in a depressing and backward village, his Hasidic roots
and loving focus on family played a key role in the art he created.
Whether it was God's will or lucky circumstance, the ambitious young man
was pre-destined for city lights and a larger world.
*My research turned up all three names for the artist we know as Marc.
Receiving a stipend from a benefactor, the budding artist found himself
enrolled in art school (Academie La Palette) in Paris, his eyes
wide open to the endless possibilities.
At the start of WWI, Chagall found himself back in Vitebsk (a town near his birthplace),
a shock to his system after the bright lights of Paris.
He immersed himself in local life-studies, painting beggars and peddlers,
fiddlers and wanderers, and cows and sheep.
With these modest images, he soon built his brand.
Before long, fascism was on the rise in Europe and forced the
artist - once again living in France -- to literally become a wandering Jew.
At the very time the world was finally "getting" his art,
the Nazis banned his work as degenerate.
Many of his works were burned, deemed an "insult to German feeling"
and Chagall was forced to leave France yet again.
He made his way to a the United States which
offered him both safety and an enlarged footprint.
Shielded from the horrors of war, Chagall continued to paint,
gaining new admirers as he branched out with fresh endeavors,
creating theater sets and costume designs
while he waited out Europe's cataclysm*.
*Sadly, his own hometown's Jewish population was left with only 118 survivors
out of a pre-war population of about 200,000.
After losing his beloved wife Bella, the artist moved back to France
and found new love -- Valentina -- as he branched out with
new mediums such as ceramics and stained glass.
Chagall's talent is on display in far reaching locales around the world.
From the United Nations, cathedrals in both Metz and Reims, Israel and the
unforgettable Palais Garnier ceiling in Paris, Marc Chagall gifted the
world with work that seemed to emanate from his soul more than his hands.
His paintings spring from his heart -- quirky, whimsical, energetic,
an endearing homage to love and family.
and the Anti-Trump movement, the straightforward phrase
"LOVE CONQUERS HATE"
aptly brands Chagall's art.
Dreamlike visions of lovers play a key role in his work.
Often floating above the landscape, his made-for-each-other paramours look
like a cross between ripely emerging newlyweds and golden oldie
twosomes who have shared the same bed for 50+ years.
There's no need to choose, you'll define the fantasy
based on your own idea of love.
But perhaps most importantly, Marc Chagall's golden expression of
tenderness and devotion will leave you wanting for more, all thoughts
of suffering or anxiety lost in one beautiful moment.
'When you share love, you defeat hate."
in the Musée Marc Chagall.
While it's great to immerse oneself in the blue sky and blue waters of Nice's
Mediterranean fantasy, it's even more extraordinary to discover
a breath of fresh air behind the jaw dropping walls of this museum.
The French Riviera is too often about sex and money so why not
strike a balance with some soul-nourishing art.....
Color your world and enjoy a new world class experience.
"Great art picks up where nature ends."