For decades,Washingtonians have known about a Marc Chagall mosaic in the back garden of a private residence in Georgetown and have strained to see mere glimpses of it from over the garden wall.
Homeowner Evelyn Nef and her husband had been great friends with the Chagalls, who spent summers at the Nef home in the south of France. (Nice life.) Chagall made the mosaic for them and personally oversaw its installation in 1971.
Nef died a few years ago and because she left this work to the National Gallery of Art, it can finally be enjoyed by all of us in its new home – the Gallery’s Sculpture Garden.
This story of the mosaic, its creator and owner and recent transfer make great reading. In it we learn that Nef “had been at various times a puppeteer, an expert on Arctic exploration, an author, a psychotherapist, and an arts benefactor.” And “on her 80th birthday, intent on achieving a flat stomach, she hired a personal trainer and started pumping iron; eventually she was doing more than 300 sit-ups.” And so on.
I came upon the Chagall on a recent visit to the Sculpture Garden to photograph it for the new DC Gardens.com project that’s my main focus these days (announced here last month). That visit resulted in the first of 12 videos about the garden, showing it off every month of the year. Unlike most gardens, this one has plenty of action during the winter – ice-skating! And great art, of course.
And starting tonight and continuing every Friday throughout the summer, there’s free Jazz in the Garden. I’ll be there.