Huile sur toile
232,5 x 175,8 cm
Musée national d’art moderne - Centre de Création Industrielle, Centre Georges Pompidou, entrusted to the Musée national Marc Chagall
Blue Circus and The Dance, painted for a London theatre that couldn’t pay for them, were swiftly returned to the artist who kept them until his death.
Blue Circus depicts an acrobat on her trapeze, the spotlight trained on her. The night-time atmosphere is highlighted by a moon middle-right, which is at once full and crescent. Several hybrid figures populate the scene: in the top-left, a flying fish – a traditional Chagallian animal – is throwing a bouquet of flowers from a hand protruding from his right side. A musical cockerel is playing the bass drum. At the bottom, a large green horse – the colour of love for Chagall – rounds off the picture.
Composed around the diagonal line of the spotlight, the acrobat’s movement and the way the areas of colour interrelate form a circle in the middle of the painting: the red of the acrobat’s costume, the green of the horse and the yellow of the moon reveal an empty centre – suggestive of a moment of calm amidst the noisy performance of the circus.