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Marc Chagall | Stained glass windows

One of Chagall's major contributions to art has been his work with stained glass. This medium allowed him further to express his desire to create intense and fresh colors and had the added benefit of natural light and refraction interacting and constantly changing: everything from the position where the viewer stood to the weather outside would alter the visual effect (though this is not the case with his Hadassah windows).
It was not until 1956, when he was nearly 70 years of age, that he designed windows for the church at Assy, his first major project. Then, from 1958-1960, he created windows for Metz Cathedral.

Jerusalem Windows (1962)

In 1960, he began creating stained glass windows for the synagogue of Hebrew University's Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem. Leymarie writes that "in order to illuminate the synagogue both spiritually and physically", it was decided that the twelve windows, representing the twelve tribes of Israel, were to be filled with stained glass.
Chagall envisaged the synagogue as "a crown offered to the Jewish Queen", and the windows as "jewels of translucent fire", she writes.
Chagall then devoted the next two years to the task, and upon completion in 1961 the windows were exhibited in Paris and then the Museum of Modern Art in New York. They were installed permanently in Jerusalem in February 1962.
Each of the twelve windows is approximately 11 feet high and 8 feet (2.4 m) wide, much larger than anything he had done before.

Cogniat considers them to be "his greatest work in the field of stained glass", although Virginia Haggard McNeil records Chagall's disappointment that they were to be lit with artificial light, and so would not change according to the conditions of natural light.
French philosopher Gaston Bachelard commented that "Chagall reads the Bible and suddenly the passages become light".
In 1973 Israel released a 12-stamp set with images of the stained-glass windows.

The windows symbolize the twelve tribes of Israel who were blessed by Jacob and Moses in the verses which conclude Genesis and Deuteronomy.
In those books, notes Leymarie, "The dying Moses repeated Jacob's solemn act and, in a somewhat different order, also blessed the twelve tribes of Israel who were about to enter the land of Canaan...
In the synagogue, where the windows are distributed in the same way, the tribes form a symbolic guard of honor around the tabernacle.

Leymarie describes the physical and spiritual significance of the windows:

"The essence of the Jerusalem Windows lies in color, in Chagall's magical ability to animate material and transform it into light. Words do not have the power to describe Chagall's color, its spirituality, its singing quality, its dazzling luminosity, its ever more subtle flow, and its sensitivity to the inflections of the soul and the transports of the imagination. It is simultaneously jewel-hard and foamy, reverberating and penetrating, radiating light from an unknown interior".

At the dedication ceremony in 1962, Chagall described his feelings about the windows:

"For me a stained glass window is a transparent partition between my heart and the heart of the world. Stained glass has to be serious and passionate. It is something elevating and exhilarating. It has to live through the perception of light. To read the Bible is to perceive a certain light, and the window has to make this obvious through its simplicity and grace...
The thoughts have nested in me for many years, since the time when my feet walked on the Holy Land, when I prepared myself to create engravings of the Bible.
They strengthened me and encouraged me to bring my modest gift to the Jewish people - that people that lived here thousands of years ago, among the other Semitic peoples".

Peace, United Nations building (1964)

In 1964 Chagall created a stained-glass window, entitled Peace, for the UN in honor of Dag Hammarskjöld, the UN's second secretary general who was killed in an airplane crash in Africa in 1961.
The window is about 15 feet (4.6 m) wide and 12 feet (3.7 m) high and contains symbols of peace and love along with musical symbols.
In 1967 he dedicated a stained-glass window to John D. Rockefeller in the Union Church of Pocantico Hills, New York.

Fraumünster in Zurich, Switzerland (1967)

The Fraumünster church in Zurich, Switzerland, founded in 853, is known for its five large stained glass windows created by Chagall in 1967. Each window is 32 feet (9.8 m) tall by 3 feet (0.91 m) wide. Religion historian James H. Charlesworth notes that it is "surprising how Christian symbols are featured in the works of an artist who comes from a strict and Orthodox Jewish background".
He surmises that Chagall, as a result of his Russian background, often used Russian icons in his paintings, with their interpretations of Christian symbols.
He explains that his chosen themes were usually derived from biblical stories, and frequently portrayed the "obedience and suffering of God's chosen people".
One of the panels depicts Moses receiving the Torah, with rays of light from his head. At the top of another panel is a depiction of Jesus' crucifixion.

St Stephan's church in Mainz, Germany (1978)

In 1978 he began creating windows for St Stephan's church in Mainz, Germany. Today, 200,000 visitors a year visit the church, and "tourists from the whole world pilgrim up St Stephan's Mount, to see the glowing blue stained glass windows by the artist Marc Chagall", states the city's web site.
"St Stephan's is the only German church for which Chagall has created windows".

The website also notes, "The colours address our vital consciousness directly, because they tell of optimism, hope and delight in life", says Monsignor Klaus Mayer, who imparts Chagall's work in mediations and books. He corresponded with Chagall during 1973, and succeeded in persuading the "master of colour and the biblical message" to create a sign for Jewish-Christian attachment and international understanding.
Centuries earlier Mainz had been "the capital of European Jewry", and contained the largest Jewish community in Europe, notes historian John Man.
In 1978, at the age of 91, Chagall created the first window and eight more followed. Chagall's collaborator Charles Marq complemented Chagall's work by adding several stained glass windows using the typical colours of Chagall.

All Saints' Church, Tudeley, UK (1963–1978)

All Saints' Church, Tudeley is the only church in the world to have all its twelve windows decorated by Chagall.
The other three religious buildings with complete sets of Chagall windows are the Hadassah Medical Center synagogue, the Chapel of Le Saillant, Limousin, and the Union Church of Pocantico Hills, New York.
The windows at Tudeley were commissioned by Sir Henry and Lady Rosemary d'Avigdor-Goldsmid as a memorial tribute to their daughter Sarah, who died in 1963 aged 21 in a sailing accident off Rye.
When Chagall arrived for the dedication of the east window in 1967, and saw the church for the first time, he exclaimed "C'est magnifique! Je les ferai tous!" ("It's beautiful! I will do them all!")
Over the next ten years Chagall designed the remaining eleven windows, made again in collaboration with the glassworker Charles Marq in his workshop at Reims in northern France.
The last windows were installed in 1985, just before Chagall's death.

Chichester Cathedral, West Sussex, UK

On the north side of Chichester Cathedral there is a stained glass window designed and created by Chagall at the age of 90. The window, his last commissioned work, was inspired by Psalm 150; 'Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord' at the suggestion of Dean Walter Hussey. The window was unveiled by the Duchess of Kent in 1978.

America Windows, Chicago

Chagall visited Chicago in the early 1970s to install his mural The Four Seasons, and at that time was inspired to create a set of stained glass windows for the Art Institute of Chicago.
After discussions with the Art Institute and further reflection, Chagall made the windows a tribute to the American Bicentennial, and in particular the commitment of the United States to cultural and religious freedom.
The windows appeared prominently in the 1986 movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
From 2005-2010, the windows were moved due to nearby construction on a new wing of the Art Institute, and for archival cleaning. | © Wikipedia

Intorno alla fine degli anni '50 Chagall comincia a produrre arazzi e soprattutto vetrate: le prime sono quelle del battistero per la chiesa di Notre-Dame-de-Toute-Grace ad Assy, poi quelle per la cattedrale di Metz.
Nel 1957 si reca nuovamente in Israele, dove nel 1960 crea una vetrata per la sinagoga dell'ospedale Hadassah Ein Kerem.
Altre stupende vetrate sono realizzate, tra il 1958-1968, per la cattedrale di Reims, e nel 1964 l'artista ne dona una all'ONU con tema pacifista, in memoria di Dag Hammarskjöld.
Nuove opere su vetro vedono la luce per la Cappella dei Cordiglieri a Sarrebourg (1975), per la chiesa di S. Stefano a Magonza (1978) ed infine per la Chapelle du Saillant a Voutezac, nel Corrèze, nel 1982.
Nel 1963 aveva ottenuto dal ministro Malraux la commissione per decorare il soffitto dell'Opéra di Parigi, che ornò con figure allegoriche di opere celebri; ritornerà poi ad allestimenti teatrali, con la messa in scena del Flauto magico nel 1965; poi nel 1966 progetta un affresco per il nuovo parlamento israeliano, mentre per l'università Knesseth realizza una serie di arazzi, tutti a sfondo biblico, con l'aiuto della celebre Manifattura dei Gobelins.
Nello stesso anno per l'editore Amiel pubblica L'Esodo, una serie di 24 litografie a colori, ed intensifica l'attività grafica.

Durante la guerra dei sei giorni l'ospedale Hadassah Ein Kerem viene bombardato e le vetrate di Chagall rischiano di essere distrutte: solo una viene danneggiata, mentre le altre vengono messe in salvo.
In seguito a questo episodio, Chagall scrive una lettera in cui afferma di essere preoccupato non per i suoi lavori, bensì per la salvezza di Israele, vista la sua origine ebraica.
Nel 1972 esegue, per il comune di Chicago, un mosaico dedicato alle Quattro stagioni.
Dopo tanti anni, invitato dal governo sovietico, nel 1973 torna anche in Russia, dove sarà accolto trionfalmente a Mosca ed a Leningrado: qui ritrova, dopo cinquant'anni, una delle sorelle, ma si rifiuta di tornare nella nativa Vitebsk.
Nello stesso anno -e nel giorno del suo compleanno- s'inaugura, a Cimiez vicino a Nizza, il Museo nazionale messaggio biblico di Marc Chagall che riunisce le sue opere sulla Bibbia: si tratta di diciassette dipinti dedicati alla Genesi, all'Esodo e al Cantico dei Cantici e degli schizzi relativi agli stessi dipinti, donati allo Stato francese da Chagall e Vavà tra il 1966 e il 1972.
Viaggia poi in Italia: nel 1976 un suo Autoritratto entra nella collezione degli Uffizi, e due anni dopo Palazzo Pitti gli dedica una mostra.
Nel 1977 il Presidente Valéry Giscard d'Estaing lo nomina Cavaliere di Gran Croce della Legion d'onore, e una nuova imponente mostra personale s'inaugura al Louvre nell'ottobre del 1977. | Fonte: © Wikipedia