La Vie (Life)
When Marguerite and Aimé Maeght set up the Fondation, they commissioned Chagall to make a large painting for the room that would be devoted to him. Chagall came up with La Vie (1964, oil on canvas, 296 x 406 cm).
This huge, swirling composition depicts the painter’s lived experiences and his dreams: his rabbi grandfather, his marriage to Bella Vava, the birth of Ida, the two exoduses – from Russia in a horse-drawn carriage; to America by ship – the musicians, acrobats and dancers, Paris all in blue and, at the end of the trajectory, the artist with his palette, apparently contemplating this epic journey, vaster than the adventure of a man. Above him, wrapping her arms around him, is Vava, his companion and beneficent ally, who appears to emerge from his painting as if to soothe the anxieties and torments of its creator.
Marc Chagall (1887-1985)
Aimé Maeght met Marc Chagall for the first time in October 1947, at the preview of his retrospective at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, organised by Jean Cassou as if to provoke and celebrate the painter’s return after his years of exile in the United States.
“Ida Chagall took me to visit her father and I was dazzled to discover, in his atelier, the gouaches painted in the USA and Mexico: sixty superb pictures, which I was lucky enough to take back with me to rue de Téhéran. Together, we drew up the plans for the first exhibition at the gallery. That meeting marked the beginning of a close and trusting collaboration, and an unwavering friendship,” Maeght explained. The exhibition took place in March 1950. That same year, Chagall moved to Vence, near Saint-Paul-de-Vence.