Innovation is a popular topic these days, usually discussed in the context of a business transformation or start-up.  Recently I toured the Chagall Colour and Music exhibit at the Musee des Beaux Arts in Montreal and found it to be a great example of personal innovation.

The Montreal exhibit presents many of Chagall’s works on paper which are drawings depicting everyday life in the Jewish community.  The exhibit starts with relatively simple, modernist line drawings sometimes with a lot of colour, sometimes less.  As I progressed through the galleries, the displayed art became more intense with colour and movement which was proclaimed, in my mind, by Chagall’s  “Rooster Man”painting.  Rooster Man is entirely different than the works displayed near by.  I had to wonder what could have inspired Marc Chagall to diverge from his established style to something so wildly imaginative.

As I continued through the exhibit, I was amazed at how Chagall innovated in small ways, incorporating fabric in his paintings, designing rugs, then moving on to progressively larger innovations as he found new mediums to present his artistic talent.  After the death of his wife Bella, Chagall started designing costumes for operas. Then he took up stained glass work and finally, stone carving.  Throughout all his works, Chagall’s unique modernist style is constant even as the medium changed.

I have to admit that I mostly cruise through art exhibits looking only at the things I find personally appealing.  It wasn’t until I was half way through this exhibit that I started to perceive Chagall’s talent for personal innovation and slowed down to have a closer look. No doubt the people who organized the exhibit anticipated that art aficionados would be inspired by Chagall’s art.  While I did appreciate Chagall’s art, particularly Rooster Man, I can’t count myself among those with great artistic appreciation.  Nonetheless, there’s inspiration in Chagall’s work as an excellent illustration of personal innovation, looking for and adapting to new ways to package and deliver your talents to a growing audience.

Chagall rooster man

Marc Chagall’s ‘Rooster Man’

Margaret Bawden
Strategy & Supply Chain Transformation