PHOTO/ Chagall and his “Four Seasons” mosaic
Detail of the Chagall mosaic (Sharon Mollerus)
In Chase Tower Plaza stands a monumental rectangular mosaic sculpture, the Four Seasons, given to the City of Chicago by artist Marc Chagall. This flight of fancy, 70 feet in length, composed of thousands of glass and stone tiles and incorporating local brick material, features the beloved cast of characters known from the Russian Jewish artist’s decades of creative work. The mosaic was created in France over two years’ time with the help of a mosaicist and transferred in panels to Chicago.
In the documentary on his work, The Gift, The Four Seasons, Chagall explained, “I chose the theme of the four seasons because I believe there will be many people going through this plaza in the heart of the city of Chicago. In my mind, the four seasons represent human life, both physical and spiritual, at its different stages. I hope that the people of Chicago will feel the same emotion that I felt when doing this work."
The film depicts the team at work on the project: the indefatigable artist, who says that “if we don’t work we begin to die,” and an inspired assistant who reproduces the original design and makes revisions to lines, shading and coloring to achieve the spatial scene as imagined by Chagall. The artist reminds him: “Look how God made the world, with little flies and mice. All the little things.” Chagall adds that his “big secret is to make it both strong and restful, the force of Mozart and the quiet poetry of Debussy.” As the 128-panel piece was being installed in 1974, Chagall updated the city’s skyline, his first sketches having been based on seeing it thirty years earlier.
Those who walk by will see a sun for each of the four panels, central to the season and the daily life of the people. The wandering Jew is walking across the scene, carrying a sack on his back. The fiddler is intent on his instrument while others dance to the music. Mothers embrace babies. Children scamper. Workers harvest the crop. Animals, trees and people are entwined. Couples fly off in an ecstasy of love. When asked why they fly, Chagall said: "It's surely the way I see it because there was a great need to find a certain ideal thing which is not on earth, which was beyond our everyday life."