There are many ways to view the lush, colorful, dreamlike and apparently naive art of Marc Chagall, one of the undoubted greats of 20th-century painting. “Marc Chagall and the Russian Avant-garde, from the Collection of the Centre Pompidou” at The University Art Museum, Tokyo University of Arts, makes a brave attempt to set him within the context of his times, something that doesn’t quite work with a painter who, more than most, unquestionably followed his own secret muse.

The exhibition, which is certainly impressive to look at, presents several other Russian avant-garde artists from the time: Natalia Goncharova, a primitivist who later turned to cubo- futurism; Mikhail Larionov, the originator of the seldom-appreciated Rayonist movement; and the abstract painter Vassily Kandinsky, who, as the paintings here display, was also a fairly good figurative artist. There are also a few excellent cubist-inspired sculptural works by the likes of Alexander Archipenko, Jacques Lipchitz and Ossip Zadkine, and an odd selection of what look like futuristic architecture models by that incurable avant-gardist Kasimir Malevich.

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