I and the Village

Marc Chagall (Russian, later French, 1887-1985) – I and the Village (Moi et le village), 1911 (Oil on canvas, Museum of Modern Art, New York) – This early work clearly shows both the Cubist and Fauvist influences at play in Chagall’s canvas, yet unlike the works of Picasso or Matisse, Chagall is far more playful and liberal with decorative elements, creating a pastoral paradise out of the Russian countryside. It is an early sign of the approach that would make the artist famous and influential: a blend of the modern and the figurative, with a light, whimsical tone… Chagall depicts a fairy tale in which a cow dreams of a milk maid and a man and wife (one upright,one upside down) frolic in the work fields…

Marc Chagall  I and the Village

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Madame Hessel Reading

Edouard Vuillard (French, 1868-1940) – Madame Hessel Reading on the Terrace of Clos Cézanne, c.1920-25 (Pastel on paper) – Vuillard often visited the Hessels in their home Clos Cézanne (so-called as it was purchased from the proceeds of a sale of a Cézanne painting in 1920). He painted there often and, as in this work, he often subordinated the figures to their flowery and colorful surroundings…

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Portrait of the Journalist Sylvia von Harden

Otto Dix (German, 1891-1969) – Portrait of the Journalist Sylvia von Harden, 1926 (Oil and tempera on wood. Centre Pompidou – Musée National d’Art Moderne) – The journalist Sylvia von Harden is shown here sitting alone, in the role of the emancipated woman intellectual she sought to be in 1920s Berlin, her nonchalance somewhat unnatural, the disdainful self-possession of the face contradicted by the writhing hand…

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Song of the Earth

The subject of death and its impact on those left behind is not an unusual one for choreographers. Song of the Earth is an observation and commentary on the inevitability of death as part of the life process. In it, MacMillan emphasizes the universality of death, with the emotional turmoil camouflaged and muted through until the end… – Marianela Nuñez, Samantha Raine, Sarah Lamb and Lauren Cuthbertson in Song of the Earth, choreography by Sir Kenneth MacMillan, The Royal Ballet – Photograph by Dave Morgan.

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Solitude

Joseph Mallord William Turner (English, 1775-1851 Solitude – The Reading Magdalene, c.1808 (Watercolour on off-white wove writing paper. Tate) – In his Liber drawing, Turner shows the half-draped figure looking down at a roughly scratched-out book, with a jar and hourglass at her left elbow; in the published print, the figure looks ahead, the book is lost in shade, the jar moved and the hourglass gone. The deer grazing undisturbed to the left emphasises the contemplative atmosphere…

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Snow Storm

Joseph Mallord William Turner (English, 1775-1851) – Snow Storm: Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps, 1812 (Oil on canvas, Tate Gallery) – The painting depicts the struggle of Hannibal’s soldiers to cross the Maritime Alps in 218BC, opposed by the forces of nature and local tribes. The Carthaginian general is nowhere to be seen in this churning, nightmarish depiction of bedraggled invaders attacked by local forces in Val d’Aosta and buffeted by an awesome, almost apocalyptic storm. The giant, wavelike black cloud and the avalanche on the Alp at right express Turner’s vision of sublime nature, but this painting, realised when Napoleon was invading the same region, was also a political statement…

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