Chagall and the Bible

Magazine issue: 
Special issue. Marc Chagall "BONJOUR, LA PATRIE!"

Ever since my early childhood, I have been captivated by the Bible. It has always seemed to me, and still seems to me today, to be the greatest source of poetry of all time. Ever since then, I have searched for its reflection in life and art: the Bible is like an echo of nature, and this is the secret I have tried to convey.

Throughout my life - and to the extent that I could - I painted in unison with my long-time dream; hence sometimes I have almost an impression of myself being somebody else, different from myself as I am. One can say that I was born between the Earth and the Skies, and the world as I see it - is a great desert in which my soul is wandering like a little flame. I wish to keep these works in this home1 so that people could come here, and try to gain peace and quiet, spirit, faith, and a sense of the meaning of life through my works. For me, these paintings represent dreams and hopes for humanity, and not for any one people alone. They are the result of my encounter with the French publisher Ambroise Vollard and my trips to the Orient. I came to the decision that they should be left in France, in the country where I received a second birth. It is not my aim to comment on them. Works of art should speak for themselves.

So often people speak of artistic manner, of form and of the art movement to refer to colour. Though colour is something inborn; colour does not depend on the manner [of painting], nor does it depend on the form into which you insert it. It does not depend on one's skills. It is beyond all art movements. Of all the art movements only a few artists remain, those artists who possessed this rare inborn sense of colour ... and the movements are forgotten. Isn't it love that inspires painting and colour? And isn't painting a reflection of our inner self, thus making skills less important. Colour and lines reveal your character and pass on your message.

If every life is inevitably moving to an end, then during our life-time we should colour our life with our own colours of love and hope. It is in love that any social logic of life, and the essence of any religion, are to be found.

For myself, I consider the Bible a source of inspiration for perfection in art and life. Without this spiritual Biblical source one relies only upon mechanical logics and constructiveness, and thus art and life become fruitless.

People, both young and not very young, could come to this place in search of that ideal of brotherhood and love that my colours and lines would evoke in them.

And, probably, in front of my paintings they will speak the words of love - the love which I feel towards everybody. And, probably, hatred will disappear, and, like every mother who is giving birth to her child in pains and with love, these young and not very young people will - taking new colours - create their own world of love.

And everybody - belonging to any religion - could come here to speak about their dream which is so far from malice and indignation.

I would also like this place to be a place where works of art and proof of the high spirituality of all peoples were exhibited, and where music and poetry, told from the heart, were given a home.

Can this dream be realized?

In art, as well as in life, everything is possible, if there is love in it.

Marc Chagall
Nice, 19732


  1. Chagall means the National Museum of the Biblical Message in Nice. (ed.)
  2. Foreword to the first catalogue of the National Museum of the Biblical Message in Nice. (ed.)





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