"For myself, a stained-glass window represents the transparent partition between my heart and the world’s heart. The stained-glass window is thrilling, it needs to be serious and fascinating. It has to live by the light which passes through it." Marc Chagall.
From November 2020 to March 2021, the Centre Pompidou -Metz is to present an unprecedented Chagall exhibition. The Emissary of Light which will explore the importance of light and of the stained-glass window in the artist’s work.
Models of stained-glass windows produced for numerous buildings, in the Grand Est region (Metz, Reims, Sarrebourg), neighbouring Germany (Mayence) and at the international level (Israel, United States, England, Switzerland) will be brought together for the first time and will be matched with an important group of paintings sculptures, ceramics and drawings from the collections of the Centre Pompidou, the Musée national Marc Chagall de Nice, from international museums and private collections. These creations will enable the rediscovery of an oeuvre which freely passes from one technique to another, from the secular to the sacred, from Judaism to Christianity, from shared history to the intimacy of the artist, between tradition and subversion and outside of any dogma. It will highlight the historical and political context of each commission and clarify the way in which Chagall used and transformed signs and symbols in a humanist ideal of liberty and peace.
In post Second World War France and in the context of the renewal of sacred art, Chagall attempted to reinvigorate "exhausted humanity, during a time when the old religious or other ideals were withering and aspired to catch a glimpse of a ray of light which would illuminate a new meaning of life". Convinced of the necessity of a supernatural power for the survival of any society or individual, Chagall’s work revives the polysemous nature of religious signs, their porous nature, and the possibility of a non-conformist narrative, freely scattered with personal recollections.
The stained-glass window represents for Chagall the place par excellence for the apparition of this invisible force. Above and beyond a technique, he considers it as a phenomenon, "something mystical which passes through the window". The artist exalts the glass matter which fusions with painting, which in turn joins forces with celestial beams and architecture to open up the work, becoming an interface, to new dimensions. This alchemy, results from the association of the talent of the painter with the unique skills of the master glass makers Charles Marq and Brigitte Simon. The exhibition will show the different stages of the elaboration of a stained-glass window, from the first drawings to its integration into the architecture.