The man touches the donkey while he points at the woman. They may be talking about the donkey. To better understand the painting better, we will need to explore its symbolism, his inspiration for the artwork, his art style as well as its present location.
The object that sticks out like a sore thumb is the donkey's green colour. To date, no one has been able to interpret why he chose to give the donkey that colour. Some people think his friendship with Pablo Picasso may have influenced him to adopt surrealism in his work. Others have pointed out that his time in Russia may have caused him to adopt a different way of painting as opposed to the conservative way of painting like the French preferred.
Most of Chagall's paintings drew from his Jewish heritage, including The Green Donkey. The donkey is a very important animal in the Bible. In the Bible, the donkeys were unique just like the green donkey. For instance, Balaam's donkey could talk. In the New Testament, Jesus rides a donkey to Jerusalem. Probably because of how unique donkeys have been portrayed in the Bible, Chagall may have opted to make his donkey unique by painting it green.
In Biblical times, donkeys were frequently used for transport. It may be the reason why Chagall highlight's the cultural aspect of using the donkey for transport in Jewish setups. The man in the painting could be selling the donkey to the woman or helping her move from place to place with his donkey.
His painting seems to borrow from the Fauvism and Surrealism styles. Fauvism was a 20th-century movement that began in France. Painters who embraced Fauvism used bold colours and non-naturalistic depictions. Making your donkey green is a bold statement since green donkeys do not exist.
Surrealism art style allowed an artist to live out their fantasies. Think of this art piece as something you can only see in your dreams. You will never see a green donkey in real life, however, thanks to his work, Chagall enables us 'see' a green donkey.
In 1914, Chagall's painting was left at Herwarth Walden's gallery Der Sturm in Berlin. The artwork remained in this museum for a long time since this was the year of the First World War.
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