Chagall in Paris

Marc Chagall painting

Where to find the art of Marc Chagall in Paris.

When Moishe Shagal (1887-1985) moved to Paris in 1911, he Frenchified his name to Marc Chagall and, with a monthly sponsorship from Russian lawyer Maxim Winawer, he was able to live as an artist.

 

“In Paris, it seemed to me that I was discovering everything, above all a mastery of technique”
– Marc Chagall

 

Paris 1911-1914

Chagall first arrived in Paris in 1911. His first studio was in Montparnasse where many artists had atéliers. It was small and cramped. He immersed himself in art exhibitions from the Impressionists, Van Gogh, Matisse, Gauguin as well as the Old Masters at The Louvre. It was the first time he had seen many of these paintings outside of books. Chagall met artists such as the Delaunays and made friends with writer Apollinaire but could not speak any French at first.

 

Montparnasse 1911

18 Rue Antoine Bourdelle, Paris
(formerly Impasse du Maine)
15th arrondissement
open daily (closed on Mondays) 10-6
Free entry
Metro: Montparnasse Bienvenue and Falguiere

The studio that Chagall shared was in this cluster of buildings which are now a part of the Bourdelle Museum, a group of artists’ studios now open to the public. Prolific sculptor and artist Antoine Bourdelle once lived here at number 16 — the street was ubsequently named after him. It’s a small street between Gare Montparnasse and the offices of Le Monde newspaper.

Also on this street is the Musée de Montparnasse (opened in 1998) once the atelier of Russian artist Marie Vassilieff and a social hub for many artists, including Chagall. Vassilieff set up the Russian Academy there in 1910.

 

La Ruche – the beehive

2 Passage de Dantzig (off Rue de Dantzig)
15th arrondissement
Metro: Convention

This building of artists’ studios was originally designed by Gustaf Eiffel. It was used for the Bordeaux Wine Pavilion at the 1900 Paris World Exposition. This temporary construction was relocated in 1902 to its new home here. Sculptor Alfred Boucher wanted to create affordable, basic studio space and a community for poor artists.

It became a lifeline for poverty-stricken artists who came to Paris and too often could not afford to pay their rent on time. Boucher constructed a network of almost 100 ateliers and even more beds on three storeys in the main building. It became known as La Ruche for its unusual beehive-like shape. Many creative talents, writers and other artists would also socialise there. Modigliani, Rousseau and Apollinaire were frequent visitors. At the time, La Ruche was located near to the Paris Vaugirard abattoirs. Chagall lived here in 1912-14 on the second floor and found many Eastern European artists here as well as a bigger studio all to himself.

Marc Chagall 1911

I and the Village c1911 from art.com

Most of Chagall’s Paris paintings were done here. When Chagall later returned to Paris in 1923 he found many of his paintings had been lost. He had to repaint them again from memory.I would love to know what happened to those lost paintings.

La Ruche barely survived World War II. In 1968 it was saved from demolition by a group including Jean Renoir and Jean-Paul Sartre. They revived the structure in 1971. Unfortunately the building is not open to the public unless by appointment and is still in use as artists’ studios. You can see the exterior and take a walk around Montparnasse where Chagall would have wandered, visiting the inexpensive cafés that were opening up. Much of Montparnasse has been modernised but look carefully and you will find remnants of what was a thriving artists’ community. There are a few cafés that were frequented by Chagall.

 

Café de Flore

172 bd. St-Germain, corner of Rue St Benoit
St-Germain/Montparnasse
6th arrondissement.
Métro: St-Germain-des-Prés

One of the oldest cafés in Paris. Opened in 1885. Chagall and Apollinaire were regulars in this café, as were Picasso, Jean-Paul Sartre and de Beauvoir.

 

La Coupole

102 Boulevard du Montparnasse
6th arrondissement
Metro: Vavin

Although not open until 1927 this brasserie has paintings by Chagall and Brancusi. Before it opened, thirty artists were asked to help with the décor, including Chagall who created a column painting. In 1984, the year before he died, Chagall celebrated his final birthday here at table 73.

 

La Rotonde

105 Boulevard du Montparnasse
6th arrondissement
Metro: Vavin

Manager Victor Libion often took paintings in lieu of payment when he ran the café 1910 1920. La Rotonde still thrives as a friendly Parisian brasserie with plenty of history.

 

Le Dôme

109 Boulevard du Montparnasse
6th arrondissement
Metro: Vavin

Now a seafood restaurant, Café du Dôme opened in 1898, it was a meeting place for intellectuals, artists, writers, models and art dealers. Meals were inexpensive and décor is now 1920s style.

 

“I aspired to see with my own eyes what I had heard of from so far away: this revolution of the eye, this rotation of colours, which spontaneously and astutely merge with one another in a flow of conceived lines. That could not be seen in my town. The sun of art then shone only on Paris.”
-Marc Chagall


1923 -1940

French art dealer Ambroise Vollard offered Chagall a commission to illustrate Russian Nikolai Gogol’s novel The Dead Souls. He accepted and returned once more to Paris. This time he brought his family: wife Bella and daughter Ida. He created several book illustration projects for Vollard. Chagall spent several happy years in Paris. He could afford international trips and holidays in the south. He had several solo exhibitions in Paris and a retrospective in 1924.

 

110 Avenue D’Orléans

14th arrondissement
Metro: Alésia

This street is now named Avenue du General Leclerc and is a busy shopping street. Here Chagall and family lived in the same apartment Lenin had also lived. Although still a private residence, you can view the exterior.

 

Villa Eugène-Manuel

16th arrondissement

He lived here at 4 Villa Eugène-Manuel with his family in the 1930s. There is a plaque installed on the exterior wall.

 

In 1940 he fled for the South of France to escape Nazi occupation in Paris and in 1941 fled to the USA.

 

Allée Marc-Chagall

13th Arrondissement

Since 1992 there is a street in Paris named after Chagall , Allée Marc-Chagall. It runs 153 metres long from 40 Rue Gandon to 153 Avenue d’Italie.


 

After World War II

In 1963, when Chagall was aged 77, he was commissioned by the French Government to create a new ceiling painting for the Paris Opéra. It’s a controversial decision at the time. It is a traditional 19th Century building, Chagall is not native to France and he is a modern artist. But it ends well when his artwork is installed to a warm reception in 1964.

 

Palais Garnier

open daily 10-5
closes 1pm on a matinée day
closes 6pm July – September
Entry €10/6

Home of Paris Opera. The building was designed by Charles Garnier and opened in 1875.
The ceiling took a year to complete at 220 square metres canvas. The painting has five sections each one celebrating a different composer Mozart, Wagner, Mussorgsky, Berlioz and Ravel. It also paid omage to singers and musicians. Chagall added a traditional Jewish wedding scene to his design as well as angels, lovers, animals and Parisian monuments.

Marc Chagall ceiling painting

Paris Opera detail from art.com

 

Museum of History and Art of Judaism

71 Rue du Temple
open daily 11-6, closed on Saturdays
Entry €6,80/4,50
Metro: Rambuteau, Hôtel de Ville

The Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsme opened in 1998 in the Marais district of Paris. It is situated within the Hôtel de Saint-Aignan. Exhibits apparently include a copy of the bible illustrated by Chagall and some artworks from Ecole de Paris artists.

 

Palais de Tokyo

aka Musée D’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
11 Avenue du Président Wilson
16th arrondissement
Open Tuesday-Sunday 10-6 (10pm on Thursdays)
Metro: Alma-Marceau or Iéna
Admission free for the permanent collection only

The Dream (1927) is in the permanent collection at Palais de Tokyo. This oil on canvas is similar to the illiustrations Chagall created for a book on the circus which was never published.

 

Centre Pompidou

aka Musée National d’Art Moderne
9 Rue Beaubourg
4th arrondissement
open daily 11 – 9 closed on tuesdays open later on Thursdays
Entry €13/10

The gallery does have several Chagall artworks in the collection but not always on display:

Russia, Asses and Others 1911-12,Double Portrait with a Glass of Wine 1917-18,
The Acrobat 1930, The Fall of Icarus 1975

Although Chagall spent most of his life in the South of France on his return from the USA, he made plenty of trips to Paris and other countries. His later life was dedicated to creating many stained glass windows for churches around the world.

photo by Luc Fournol from art.com

photo by Luc Fournol from art.com

12 Comments on “Chagall in Paris

  1. I lived in an apartment at 110 avenue du General Leclerc in 1979-80. The old lady across the landing told us that Lenin and Chagall had both lived in the building, but we thought she was just making it up! Thank you for proving her right. How did you find out ?

    • Thanks Barbara, your comment has made my day. I would love to have seen that apartment. How did I find out? Well, I usually will find 2 sources for any info I find. As far as I can recall the address may have been mentioned in a couple of books I borrowed from the library. I can’t get my hands on my notes at the moment but it may have been mentioned in Chagall’s self-penned biography ‘My Life’ and also in an art history book about his life. I have never found any other information about the apartment beyond the address and the fact that both Chagall and Lenin lived there. It’s a shame you didn’t discover any evidence to prove the old lady right. Imagine finding a lost painting behind the radiator.

      • I don’t think it was the same apartment, but in the same building (3rd floor right hand side looking at it from the street). From my research there was a house in the back of the courtyard which was used as a printshop for the POSDR, the organisation of pre-revolutionary Russian social-democrat exiles – I found this useful website here:
        http://www.parisrevolutionnaire.com/spip.php?article124
        I’ve found other addresses near that apartment for both Lenin and Chagall, but if it’s not true it’s obviously been part of local mythology for some time! Would have been nice to find “MC woz ere” under the wallpaper but afraid nothing of the sort emerged.

  2. Julie,

    Do you know anything about a cabaret, no longer in existence, which was located at 5 Rue de Metz in the 10th, called Le Petit Rancho, which Chagall may have visited after WWII? My sister has a framed piece of paper on which Chagall wrote “Best wishes from Marc Chagall” in Yiddish. On the verso of the paper fragment is a Yiddish song notes and lyrics sung by displaced Jews after the war. I’m attempting to hunt down the venue and the occasion of what was perhaps a Yiddish theater review that Chagall may have attended. There’s no date on the paper, but it’s at lest from the early 50’s I think. Thanks for any insight.

  3. I am lead to believe that, in his later years, Chagall lived in Paris on the Ile St. Louis. Do you know if that is correct and, if so, the address of the building in which he lived?

    • Jeffrey, I’m afraid I did not come across this information in my research but if I find anything further, I’ll be sure to post this.

  4. Hi, my name is Jacob , I was in his place in Ile St. Louise, Chagall foundation was run from there at the time. I studied art at Wits university in Johannesburg, my art Prof. Allan Crump was a very good friend of Chagall Grand daughter. It happend that the Prof visited Paris at same time that I did and he invited me to visit the place in Ile St Louise. I visit Paris for a week today and intend to find the place again, I know the existence of the place was kept very quiet.

    • Thanks, Jacob, for taking the time to comment. That’s very interesting.

  5. What a lovely resource!
    Are there stained glass windows by Chagall anywhere in Paris?

    • Thanks Kathryn, as far as I know there are not any windows in Paris. Chagall did create stained glass windows elsewhere in France, at the Notre-Dame de Reims in Champagne and at Cathedrale St-Etienne de Metz in Moselle. They are beautiful.

  6. Please could someone help me? I’m desperately looking for a painting by Marc Chagall called “around her”. It represents two newlyweds in the blue sky and in the bottom corner there’s the artis painted with the head upside down. Please help me

    • Hello Serena, I believe it to be in the Chagall collection at the Pompidou Centre in Paris. It may not be on display however.

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