Painted in 1949, shortly after his return from enforced exile in the United States during WWII, Les Coquelicots stems from a time when Chagall was feeling happily nostalgic for his past while appreciating the tranquil life which he was able to make anew for himself in France. His comment is based on his quote ““In our life there is a single color, as on an artist palette which provides the meaning of life and art. It is the color of love.”
Picasso who was a neighbor respected the artist and said about him “When Matisse dies, Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what color really is”. Their friendship ended in 1964 over a political discussion about communism.
Alfred H Barr Jr, Director of the MOMA was key for the rescue of Chagall from the Nazis in 1941 with the American journalist Varian Fry, a strong supporter of Chagall. Barr organized a retrospective of the artist in NY in 1946.
Sources Sothebys, Auction catalogue, 2014.
Chagall and Picasso, A Friendship that Wasn’t Meant to Be, Masterworks fine art
In Search of MoMA’s “Lost” History: Uncovering Efforts to Rescue Artists and Their Patrons, 2016, MoMA
Marc and the color of love, 2019, Acrylic on canvas, 14" x 11" (36 x 28 cm)