The basis on the painting is a violinist sat of a chair. He appears to have a squeeze box on his lap too. There is a dove and a pigeon fluttering about him. The chair appears to be floating above a street of houses as he plays below a full moon.
Blue is the dominate colour, as you might imagine. Some of the colouring, especially the face of the musician is influenced by Fauvism. The style of portrait owes some influence to Cezanne, but later artists like Picasso may be a factor too. The violinist above the houses suggests a nod to surrealism.
An earlier work was The Green Violinist (1924) so it is reasonable to wonder if it is a self-reference, looking at the artist in simpler times before anti-Semitism led to great upheaval in his life and much worse for other Jews. Some motifs cross over. Both violinist appear to be floating above the town.
The older painting is simpler, crisper. Surreal elements are clear and unobscured. It is a brighter more optimistic painting, lighter in colour save a bright purple coat & dark ugly green face.
The Blue Violinist is dark and more pessimistic. However, others see this as an optimistic positive work. I just don’t see it though. There are bold colours, but they are dark colours. The violinist looks haunted.
Chagall is a great romantic artist and it can be seen in The Blue Violinist. The human rises above the town and is more important. Chagall believed in the beauty on the music of the violin and it was a theme that repeated throughout his career.
It is debateable whether the Blue Violinist fits in as one of Chagall’s best. Other works like La Mariee or I and the Village probably eclipse it, but he deserves his vaunted place in 2oth Century art. His work is distinctive, interesting and engaging.
Chagall found a place in later life producing public art. You can see his work on the roof of the Paris Opera, The Jerusalem Window, Reims & Chichester cathedrals, even a humble church in Tudeley England.
He still had much to give to painting at the age of 60 when he produced The Blue Violinist and had nearly 40 years of life left. It is vibrant and interesting. And you can’t ask for much more than that.
Marc Chagall was an early modernist painter, of French/Russian origin. He was born in 1887 dying in 1985. He worked in a myriad of forms, but would be best remembered as a painter and a creator of stained glass windows such as in Reims Cathedral or the Jerusalem Windows in Israel. He is also known as the prominent Jewish artist of the 20th century.
He had a strong professional rivalry with Picasso & Matisse, certainly in later life, but he had clear comparisons with artists like Paul Klee & Kandinsky.