In 2020 and 2021, the museum's collection was enriched by seven rare bibliophile books, donated by Bella and Meret Meyer, Marc Chagall's granddaughters. In honour of this exceptional gift, this exhibition celebrates Chagall's intimate and enduring relationship with the written word and the book, which resulted in the creation of more than one hundred illustrated works in original limited editions.
For Chagall, who was as sensitive to the poetry of words as he was to the poetry of matter, imagining a new bibliophile book meant above all seeking the means to embody an intellectual and plastic thought in a material object, a printed book that wanted to be singular. The reflection on the relationship between text and image, which is essential, is only the first step in a craft that brings together different book trades. A tireless experimenter, Chagall also found in the book a space for the renewal of his art, where pictorial values and the play of light and shadow create another visual language that fully exploites the expressive possibilities of each printing process.
On this collective creative path, Chagall made fruitful encounters with numerous writers, belonging to the literary heritage or to contemporary creation; with publishers including Ernst Cassirer, Ambroise Vollard, Tériade, Aimé Maeght or Gerald Cramer; as well as with printers, the Mourlot workshop and Charles Sorlier for lithography, the Frélaut workshop for engraving, and many others. Together, respecting the traditions of the printing world but with a sense of freedom and inventiveness, they created these precious books, printed in a limited number of copies.
The exhibition explores the diversity of printmaking techniques used by Chagall - wood or metal engraving and lithography – as well as the artist's major achievements, such as the innovative projects initiated by the art dealer and publisher Ambroise Vollard (Les Âmes mortes, Les Fables, the Bible), which were finally published by another publisher, Tériade, after the Second World War. Finally, the exhibition presents lesser-known works such as Lettres d'hivernage, created from a collection of poems by Léopold Sédar Senghor, or books with an autobiographical dimension such as Poèmes, in which the artist illustrated his own poems.
Through this selection of works in an infinite variety of forms and techniques, the visitor is thus invited to journey through the history of the illustrated book in the 20th century, to which Chagall made a major contribution over a period of nearly sixty years and participated in its renewal.
In order to preserve the works on paper and to present different books, the works exhibited will be renewed during the course of the exhibition, which will include two displays : from 7 May to 29 August 2022 and from 3 September to 9 January 2023.
Curators : Anne Dopffer, Gaïdig Lemarié, Isabelle Le Bastard and Marie Nérot.
Caption : Léopold Sedar Senghor, Lettres d'hivernage, illustrations de Marc Chagall, 1973, illustrations by Marc Chagall, 1973, cover printed in offset. Book realized with the collaboration of Gérard Bosio, printed by the printing house Marne in Tours, for the text, and by the printing house Mourlot, in Paris, for the illustrations. Book printed at 180 copies on Arches vellum, signed by L.S. Senghor and M. Chagall. Nice, Musée national Marc Chagall. Photo: DR © ADAGP, Paris, 2022.
Exhibition open everyday except on Tuesdays, December 25th and January 1st.
May to October : from 10 am to 6 pm
November to April : from 10 am to 5 pm
Ticket sales end 30 minutes before the museum closes.
Admission includes access to the permanent collection and a multilingual audio guide.
Exhibition rates :
Full price: €10
Reduced rate : €8
Groups (10 people or more): €8.50