Marc Chagall. I and the Village. 1911

Marc Chagall I and the Village 1911

The Museum of Modern Art, Floor 5, Collection Galleries

Painted the year after Chagall came to Paris, I and the Village evokes his memories of his native Hasidic community outside Vitebsk. In the village, peasants and animals lived side by side, in a mutual dependence here signified by the line from peasant to cow, connecting their eyes. The peasant's flowering sprig, symbolically a tree of life, is the reward of their partnership. For Hasids, animals were also humanity's link to the universe, and the painting's large circular forms suggest the orbiting sun, moon (in eclipse at the lower left), and earth.

The geometries of I and the Village are inspired by the broken planes of Cubism, but Chagall's is a personalized version. As a boy he had loved geometry: "Lines, angles, triangles, squares," he would later recall, "carried me far away to enchanting horizons." Conversely, in Paris he used a disjunctive geometric structure to carry him back home. Where Cubism was mainly an art of urban avant-garde society, I and the Village is nostalgic and magical, a rural fairy tale: objects jumble together, scale shifts abruptly, and a woman and two houses, at the painting's top, stand upside-down. "For the Cubists," Chagall said, "a painting was a surface covered with forms in a certain order. For me a painting is a surface covered with representations of things . . . in which logic and illustration have no importance."

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 63.
Oil on canvas
6' 3 5/8" x 59 5/8" (192.1 x 151.4 cm)
Mrs. Simon Guggenheim Fund
Object number
© 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Painting and Sculpture

Installation views

MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos.

If you notice an error, please contact us at

This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.

Acquired by Nell Walden (1887-1975), Berlin, 1916 [1]; returned to Marc Chagall, Paris, 1926 [2]; purchased from the artist by René Gaffé, Brussels, February 22, 1926 [3]; acquired by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, June 13, 1945.

[1] Karoline Hille, Marc Chagall und das deutsche Publikum, Cologne: Böhlau, 2005, p. 55, p. 271, no. 15. Included in Chagall's solo exhibition at Herwarth Walden's Galerie Der Sturm, Berlin, [May/June] 1914. Herwarth Walden, Expressionismus: Die Kunstwende, Berlin: Der Sturm, 1918, p. 21.
[2] See letter Nell Walden, Schinznach to James Johnson Sweeney, New York, November 14, 1946, Collection files, Department of Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
[3] Reproduced in René Gaffé, "Réflexions d'un collectionneur," Cahiers de Belgique, vol. 2, no. 2 (February 1929), p. 60. Included in the exhibition Art In Our Time: 10th Anniversary Exhibiton, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, May 10-September 30, 1939, no. 184. On extended loan from Gaffé to The Museum of Modern Art, New York during the war.

Provenance research is a work in progress, and is frequently updated with new information. If you have any questions or information to provide about the listed works, please email or write to:

Provenance Research Project
The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street
New York, NY 10019

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA's Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or, please email If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to