Lovers in Blue
1914 by Marc Chagall
Lovers in Blue is an incredibly intimate painting; the emotion of love and that of lovers is something Chagall achieves in much of his work (see postcard 164), though this quiet intimacy is perhaps less common. His couples are often euphoric, celebrating their union in the fantastical tumbling of Chagall’s weightless world, but here we are drawn in closer, to their faces and tender kiss. The shaded eyes of one of the figures, with the closed lids of the other, encourages this quiet and enclosed atmosphere. As if we are caught in a memory or dream, we are coddled in this embrace that seeps across the painting in the shape of a soft and intense indigo blue. This blue is carried throughout the palette of the painting, embedding the lover’s union in the canvas as it seeps through each colour used; their love is constant through the very pigment of the paint that describes them. The white that casts their faces is marble-like, sculptural in the angles of the figure on the left; lighting them up, they appear almost holy. The choice of colour makes this painting particularly poignant. With love and lust we might think of a bright and passionate red – and Chagall is by no means afraid of bright colours – however here he chooses blue. Calmer, more serene and less expected, the colour carries the weight of emotion, as Picasso’s Blue Period paintings do (see postcard 109). The blue creates both the painting and its poignancy, as we are instantly caught by its spell.