Dream by Marc Chagall

Marc Chagall was a Russian painter known as a colorist for his effervescent use of the palate, specifically his love of monochromatic blues. Henry Miller named him “poet with the wings of a painter.”  His world renowned reputation is unlike that of any other.  Perhaps it was his versatility and bewilderment of life in and of itself that makes him so universally revered.   The Dream, created in 1978 was part of his private collection.  This is not unusual for Chagall who was notoriously private, and often even denied he was a painter.

The title itself, The Dream is a clue as to where this painting may have been inspired from.  Elusive as he is though, it would be unwise to jump to conclusions, as he also once described himself as a dreamer who never woke up.  Just because it is called “The Dream,” does not mean this painting appeared in our idea of a dream.  The fact that The Dream was in his private collection however, does symbolize its personal meaning.  Known as a wanderer, the shape of the man on the ground seems as if it may be Chagall, and in his hand rests a palette. The Eiffel tower is a staple for all dreamers, it symbolizes hope and love.  What is interesting is how small it is compared to the couple in the moon, and even more fascinating is that the man lying on the ground is facing away from the Eiffel Tower and instead gazing toward the moon in which a solemn bride appears with a man.  “The face of the moon.”

Perhaps The Dream is one of his dreams unrealized.  Presuming, the man on the ground is Chagall or at least a representation of himself, His raised neck is yearning in earnest directly at the woman in the moon; who is larger than anyone else in the painting with more specified features.  Her beauty is symbolized by the nurturing stance of letting the man rest on her, showing his dependence and her kindness.  The half-person-half donkey is reminiscent of one of Shakespeare’s characters, Bottom, who was known for being-an ass. Yet, the violin is a romantic instrument and music can be seen as a guardian angel.

The man in the moon and the man in the ground may both be Chagall, symbolizing different versions of himself; who he is and what we could have been.   Though he painted the setting sun red, his fixation with blue, is particularly placed here. The man in the moon is wearing blue, while the man on the ground with the palate is surrounded by blue, but not wearing it.  This portrayal is visceral and sets a tone of melancholy. Though, there are sad elements, Chagall has placed woman in a wedding dress symbolizing her purity in the moon.  In this Chagall deems the couple as eternal rather than earthly. The Dream is a symbol of Immortal love. On the rare occasion of discussing painting Chagall said, “It was more necessary for me than food.  It seemed to me like a window through which I could have taken flight to another world.”


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