An ongoing exhibition pits Chagall postcards and tea towels against some of the modernist titan’s originals.
In the unassuming Berggruen Museum, one of Berlin’s smaller state museums located opposite Schloss Charlottenburg is this one room display of some unsurprising works by Russian-French modernist Marc Chagall. Much like the museum, the paintings on display are fairly small and modest, complemented by a large decorated folding screen titled Wandschirm, 1963. The exhibition text describes the artist as a ground-breaking innovator and, without a shadow of irony, says this is because of his use of “the decorative image”. This is perhaps exactly why Chagall has become the tea towel, fridge magnet, key ring artist that he is today, and fair enough.
Next door, German photographer Ulrike Kolb examines the many ways in which Chagall reproductions are displayed in private homes, the office of the Federal President at Bellevue Palace and even on the hilariously shonky Chagallesque ceiling fresco in Berlin’s very own Café Chagall in Prenzlauer Berg. Kolb’s photographs reveal how Chagall’s art is consumed and displayed today, in reproduction and at the absolute height of a purely decorative intention by their owners. A refreshing take on how to look at works you’ve seen on a thousand screen savers.
The Modernity of Decorativeness | Museum Berggruen, Charlottenburg