Jubilee exhibition unites cultures

Belarusian and French museum workers plan joint exhibition devoted to 130th anniversary of Marc Chagall’s birth

Belarusian and French museum workers plan joint exhibition devoted to 130th anniversary of Marc Chagall’s birth.


Anne Dopffer (C) during her visit to the National Art Museum, with its Director Vladimir Prokoptsov (R)

The Director of the Marc Chagall National Museum in French Nice, Anne Dopffer, recently visited the homeland of the famous artist, in Vitebsk, with the museum’s curator, Blanche Grinbaum-Salgas. “Naturally, we’ve come to Belarus because of Marc Chagall. To be more correct, we’re interested in seeing the artist’s native city,” smiles Ms. Dopffer. “Chagall spent his childhood in Vitebsk — taking his first artistic steps here and meeting his muse, his wife Bella.”

Ms. Dopffer has been the museum’s director for a year and this was her first trip to Vitebsk. She visited the house where the artist grew up, and viewed his works at the Arts Centre. The local exhibition features Chagall’s illustrations for Gogol’s Dead Souls, and houses over 300 paintings by the artist.

“Incredibly, the modern city resembles the Vitebsk once painted by Marc Chagall,” says Ms. Dopffer. “I’m impressed by how Belarusians are preserving the artist’s memory.”

During their Vitebsk meeting, Belarusian and French museum workers discussed future projects. Among them is a joint exhibition at Minsk’s National Art Museum, devoted to Marc Chagall and scheduled for 2017. An exchange of works by Vitebsk and Nice museums is also planned.

As Ms. Dopffer notes, in line with the artist’s will, some pictures should never leave France. However, some works are regularly exhibited abroad. Ms. Dopffer also heads museums dedicated to Leger and Picasso, which offers opportunities for expanded co-operation.

After Vitebsk, Anne Dopffer and Blanche Grinbaum-Salgas went on to Minsk to tour the National Art Museum and the city. Ms. Dopffer loves old Minsk’s architecture, while Ms. Grinbaum-Salgas appreciates the city’s clean streets, believing these indicate city residents’ high level of culture.

Interestingly, the French guests came without a translator, as Blanche speaks Russian well, having graduated from the French University’s Philology Department. She loves Russian literature and used to work at the French Embassy in Moscow. She actually learnt the language in childhood, following her father’s wish; he emigrated to France from Ukraine in the 1920s, with his parents. 

The French ladies have invited their Belarusian colleagues to a musical party at Nice’s Marc Chagall Museum. Many Belarusian musicians have participated in concerts there. Ms. Dopffer explains, “Chagall helped initiate a musical salon in this museum, which boasts wonderful acoustics.” Truly, it would be a delight to attend a classical music concert in Nice, surrounded by Chagall’s paintings.

By Yana Medvedskaya

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