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Myytit kuvina : Marc Chagallin I Pariisinkauden (1910-1914) maalausten strukturalistis-semioottista tulkintaa
Published inJyväskylä Studies in the Arts
The present study focuses on Marc Chagall's works during his first Paris period (1910-1914). Its approach is structural-semiotic with an emphasis on art education rather than purely on the history of art. The corpus (ten paintings and one gouache) is analysed by using a model of interpretation which is based on the phenomenological categorization of modes of being by Charles Sanders Peirce, the classical figure of American semiotics. In this model, applied to the study of works of art, the firstness-phase represents the level of the qualitative possibilities of the works of art, as well as the phase of perception and emotion (the emotion of tout ensemble), based also on the recipient's non-cognitive pre-knowledge. The secondness-phase represents the actual facts related to the work of art and the deductions made on the basis of these facts. The thirdness-phase, finally, forms a synthesis of the former two, as well as the level of giving meaning to and judging the work of art. One of the premises in the present study has been the profound mythic dimension in Chagall's work during this period. In the analysis of the myths we have sought support from semiotics (Greimas, Barthes), philosophy and anthropology (Eliade, Bachelard), psychology (Jung) and Hassidism (Buber, Wiesel). In Hassidism, which formed the spiritual atmosphere of Chagall's childhood, the mythical elements of the Jewish past have been conserved. Among this sect there is a strong tendency to ritualisation, not only of the basic events of life, such as birth, death and marriage, but also of all events of everyday life. This influence is obvious in Chagall' s paintings. They further show numerous ancient pre-Christian elements as well as variations of themes relating to the Old Testament and Christianity. Visual archetypal images characteristic of this period are for instance: the magic flight or levitation, annihilation of the causal laws of the perceptual world, androgynous and Janus-faced figures, hybrid variants of human and animal shapes, and gulliverisation and "withinness" of phenomena. The central problem of the present study, expressed in semiotic terms, is. the following: on the one hand, what kind of relationship is there between Chagall's modes of expression and other modes of artistic expression of this period, and, on the other, what kind of relationship is there between the mythical content of Chagall's art and the content elements of the rest of contemporary art? In searching for answers for these questions we have used de Saussaure's distinctions 1angue / paro1e and signifiant / signifié. The interpretations show that in the strong interactive process which can be observed during these four years between Chagall and the different trends of contemporary visual art (Fauvism, German Expressionism, Cubism, Orfism, Rayonism etc.), and between Chagall and the poets of the time (Apollinaire, Cendrars), Chagall can be considered to be the recipient party as far as forms of expressions (signifiant) are conccrncd. As to the ·content of the works (signifié) however, he has been very influential. It was during the first Paris period that myths gained their strongest manifestation in his works. Another period with strong mythical elements occured toward the end of his long life. These poetic visions, which are based on the texts of Bible, are located in the Musée National Message Biblique Marc Chagall à Nice, the first French museum founded for a living artist and subsidized by the state. ...
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