1915 by Marc Chagall
Marc Chagall was a pioneer of Modernism. Though Russian, like many artists of that period he was later known as French, due to his living among the many others in Paris. He was by no means limited to painting and worked in a variety of different mediums, infamous perhaps for his stain glass windows that stand across the world, in UK to Jerusalem. The painting Birthday shows his original style beautifully, the fantasy of his whimsical figures that seem to float through his compositions on a breeze of their emotion. Far from ghost-like, they are full of life, floating only in exaltation, much like Klimt’s figures in his compositions (postcard twenty-eight). The woman gazes upward, her face illuminated in light from the window; eyes wide, she appears on the brink of accent. The man, meanwhile, is above ground already; off the floor in strength of feeling, he curls round to kiss her in what should be a painful motion but appears calm, a twist and effort of love only — the figures appear entwined. The intensity of this emotion is reflected in the vibrancy of the floor, which glows red, the whole room picking passion up in Chagall’s characteristically coloured compositions. There is wonderful detail throughout the room, in the various fabrics’ patterns and the painting that hangs on the wall; this and the curious perspective opens the room out before us, rather like an illustration, the painting becomes comfortingly story-like. The warmth of the room is in contrast to the view of the street outside, which seems to be deliberately brought to our attention. There is an outside world, but currently these two are not part of it, so intimate do we find them in their exchange of celebration.