Thursday, April 03, 2014

weightless & delirious

A framed print of Marc Chagall's oil on canvas Over the Town (completed in 1918) sits on a mantle in the home of Steve Martin's fire chief character C.D. Bales in Roxanne (1987). Later in the film, which was based on Edmond Rostand's famous play Cyrano de Bergerac (1897), C.D. alludes to a Chagall painting:

"I am in orbit around you, I am suspended weightless over you like the blue man in the Chagall, hanging over you in a delirious kiss." 

Chagall often painted figures hovering over the ground, or suspended in mid-air above rural landscapes and villages. This particular image features Chagall and his wife Bella Rosenfeld Chagall dreamily floating over Vitebsk, the small town where he grew up. The original Chagall painting currently resides at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.

Another framed print adorns the wall next to C.D.'s fireplace: Rudolph II as Vertumnus (1590-91) by Giuseppe Arcimboldo. The painting depicts Italian court artist Arcimboldo's patron as a composite portrait of the Roman god of metamorphosis, vegetation and the four seasons. Arcimboldo's imaginative works were an inspiration to Salvador DalĂ­ and the early 20th Century Surrealist movement. 

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