The Poet (Half Past Three) (1911) by Marc Chagall

The Poet (Half Past Three) - Marc Chagall - 1911 - 1912

Artwork Information

TitleThe Poet (Half Past Three)
ArtistMarc Chagall
Date1911 - 1912
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions197 x 146 cm
Art MovementCubism
Current LocationPhiladelphia Museum of Art
Location Created Paris, France

About The Poet (Half Past Three)

“The Poet (Half Past Three)” is an oil on canvas work by Marc Chagall, created between 1911 and 1912, showcasing his engagement with the Cubist movement. Measuring 197 x 146 cm, this genre painting belongs to the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s collection. Chagall painted this artwork while he was in Paris, France, reflecting the avant-garde influences of his time.

The artwork presents a multifaceted composition that is emblematic of Cubism, with fragmented and abstracted forms coalescing to depict a scene. At the center stands a figure, presumably the poet, whose body and face are constructed with geometric shapes and planes, suggesting a certain depth and dimensionality. This central figure appears to be holding a sheet of paper, and an ink well and quill are noticeable on the table, reinforcing their identity as a poet engaged in literary creation.

The use of a vibrant palette, with blues and reds dominating the space, offers a contrast to the often-muted tones typical of early Cubist works. Chagall’s splay of vivid colors contributes to the dreamlike atmosphere that he was known for, even within the context of a Cubist framework.

A cat, rendered with similar stylistic techniques, sits to the left of the poet, adding a touch of whimsy and life. The background and surrounding elements are similarly abstracted, with clocks, flowers, and what might be interpreted as windows or additional scenes merging into the overall configuration.

There’s a playful interaction between abstract shapes and recognizable objects throughout the canvas, encouraging viewers to explore the dynamic relationship between form, color, and narrative in Chagall’s interpretation of Cubism. While it is rooted in contemporaneous artistic explorations, the artwork also foreshadows the lyrical and poetic qualities that would become hallmarks of Chagall’s later oeuvre.

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