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Chagall, Marc

Marc Chagall

Born: July 7, 1887
Vitebsk, Russia
Died: March 28, 1985
Maritimes, France

Russian painter and artist

Russian painter Marc Chagall was one of the great masters of the School of Paris. He was also praised as an influence on surrealism, a twentieth-century artistic movement that expressed the subconscious in wild imagery.

An inspired childhood

Marc Chagall was born Moishe Shagal on July 7, 1887, in Vitebsk, Russia, to a poor Jewish family that included ten children. His father, Zakhar Chagall, worked in a fish factory and his mother, Ida Chagall, worked in the family home and ran a grocery store. The years of his childhood, the family circle, and his native village became the main themes of his art. These first impressions lingered in his mind like original images and were transformed into paintings with such titles as the Candlestick with the Burning Lights, the Cow and Fish Playing the Violin, the Man Meditating on the Scriptures, the Fiddler on the Roof, and I and My Village. According to French poet and critic André Breton (18961966), with Chagall "the metaphor [comparison of images] made its triumphant return into modern painting." And it has been said that Pablo Picasso (18811973) was a triumph of the mind, but Chagall was the glory of the heart.

Chagall received early schooling from a teacher friend who lived nearby. He then attended the town school, but he only did well in geometry. He became an apprentice (a person who works for another in order to learn a profession) to a photographer but did not like the work. He then decided that he wanted to become an artist and talked his parents into paying for art lessons. He began his artistic instruction under the direction of a painter in Vitebsk. In 1907 he moved to St. Petersburg, Russia, where he attended the school of the Imperial Society for the Protection of the Arts and studied briefly with famed Russian painter Leon Bakst (18661924). These were difficult years for Chagall. He was extremely poor and was unable to support himself with his artwork. He took a job as a servant and also learned how to paint signs. In Bakst's studio he had his first contact with the modern movement that was sweeping Paris, and it freed his inner resources. His pictures of this early period are pleasant images of his childhood.

With some help from a patron (someone who supported him financially), Chagall went to Paris in 1910. The poets Blaise Cendrars (18871961), Max Jacob (18761944), and Guillaume Apollinaire (18801918), and the painters Roger de La Fresnaye (18851925), Robert Delaunay (18851941), and Amedeo Modigliani (18841920) became his friends. Chagall participated in the art showings at the Salon des Indépendants and the Salon d'Automne in 1912, but it was his first one-man show in Herwarth Walden's Der Sturm Gallery in Berlin, Germany, which established him internationally as a leading artist.

Travels inspired new works

Chagall lived in Russia for the duration of World War I (191418). During the Russian Revolution (the uprising to overthrow the government of the czar [Russian king] in 1917) he was made a commissar (an official) for art, but he resigned in 1919 after a clash with the suprematist painters (Russian artists that used nonobjective art and basic geometric shapes). In 1922 Chagall left Russia for good, going to Berlin, Germany and then back to Paris. The art dealer Ambroise Vollard (18651939) commissioned (hired) him to illustrate Nikolay Gogol's (18091852) "Dead Souls" (ninety-six etchings) in 1923 and "La Fontaine's Fables" (one hundred etchings) in 1927.

A journey to Palestine and Syria in 1931 gave Chagall firsthand knowledge of the land, which he represented in his illustrations for the Bible (19311939 and 19521956). He is considered the greatest interpreter of the Bible since Rembrandt (16061669). He used biblical themes in paintings, graphic works, and stained glass (two windows for the Cathedral in Metz, France, 1960 and 1962; twelve windows for the medical center in Jerusalem, 1961). Chagall started a new series of large paintings, the "Biblical Message," in 1963.

Chagall traveled throughout France and elsewhere from 1932 to 1941, when he settled in the United States, where he remained until 1947. He designed the sets and costumes for the ballets Aleko (1942) and The Firebird (1945). Bella, his beloved wife, inspiration, and model, whom he had married in 1915, died in 1944.

In 1948, the year after Chagall returned to France, he started Arabian Nights, a series of lithographs (prints created by a printing process using stone or metal plates that have been treated so that the image to be printed picks up the ink and the blank area does not). He began working in ceramics in 1950 and made his first sculptures the following year. In 1952 he married Valentina "Vava" Brodsky. His famous "Paris" series, a sequence of fantastic scenes set against the background of views of the city, was created between 1953 and 1956.

Chagall continued to create great artworks throughout the later years of his life. In the 1960s and 1970s, his stained glass art appeared in such buildings as the United Nations (UN) in New York City. In 1973 a museum of his works was opened in Nice, France. In 1977, the Louvre, a world-famous art museum in Paris, exhibited sixty-two of his paintings, an extremely rare event for a living artist. Chagall died at the age of ninety-seven in 1985.

For More Information

Alexander, Sidney. Marc Chagall: A Biography. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1978.

Baal-Teshuva. Jacob, Marc Chagall 18871985. New York: Random, 1998.

Chagall, Marc. My Life. New York: Orion Press, 1960. Reprint, New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

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Marc Chagall

Marc Chagall

Marc Chagall (1887-1985), Russian painter, was one of the great masters of the School of Paris and was also acclaimed as a forerunner of surrealism.

Marc Chagall was born Moishe Shagal on July 7, 1887, in Vitebsk to a poor Jewish family. The years of his childhood, the family circle, and his native village became the main themes of his art. These first impressions lingered in his mind like primeval images and were transformed into paintings with such titles as the Candlestick with the Burning Lights, the Cow and Fish Playing the Violin, the Man Meditating on the Scriptures, the Fiddler on the Roof, and I and My Village. According to André Breton, with Chagall "the metaphor made its triumphant return into modern painting." And it has been said that Pablo Picasso was a triumph of the mind but Chagall was the glory of the heart.

In 1907 he moved to St. Petersburg, where he attended the school of the imperial Society for the Protection of the Arts and studied briefly with Leon Bakst. These were years of hardship and poverty for Chagall. In Bakst's studio he had his first contact with the modern movement which was sweeping Paris, and it liberated his inner resources. His pictures of this early period are lyrical evocations of his childhood.

With some help from a patron, Chagall went to Paris in 1910. The avant-garde poets Blaise Cendrars, Max Jacob, and Guillaume Apollinaire and the painters Roger de La Fresnaye, Robert Delaunay, and Amedeo Modigliani became his friends. Chagall participated in the Salon des Indépendants and the Salon d'Automne in 1912, but it was his first one-man show in Herwarth Walden's Der Sturm Gallery in Berlin which established him internationally as a leading artist.

Travels Inspired New Works

Chagall spent World War I in Russia. During the Revolution he was made a commissar for art but resigned after a clash with the suprematist painters in 1919. In 1922 left Russia for good, going to Berlin and then back to Paris. The art dealer Ambroise Vollard commissioned him to illustrate Gogol's Dead Souls (96 etchings) in 1923 and La Fontaine's Fables (100 etchings) in 1927.

A journey to Palestine and Syria in 1931 gave Chagall firsthand knowledge of the land, which he depicted in his illustrations for the Bible (1931-1939 and 1952-1956). He was the greatest interpreter of the Bible since Rembrandt, and he used biblical themes in paintings, graphic works, and stained glass (2 windows for the Cathedral in Metz, 1960 and 1962; 12 windows for the medical center in Jerusalem, 1961). Chagall started a new series of large paintings, the "Biblical Message," in 1963.

Chagall traveled extensively in France and elsewhere from 1932 to 1941, when he settled in the United States, where he remained until 1947. He designed the sets and costumes for the ballets Aleko (1942) and The Firebird (1945). Bella, his beloved wife, inspiration, and model, whom he had married in 1915, died in 1944.

In 1948, the year after Chagall returned to France, he started his series of lithographs, Arabian Nights. He began working in ceramics in 1950 and made his first sculptures the following year. He married again in 1952 to Valentina "Vava" Brodsky. His famous "Paris" series, a sequence of fantastic scenes set against the background of views of the city, was created between 1953 and 1956.

Honored for His Work

Chagall continued to create great artworks throughout the later years of his life. In the 1960s and 1970s, his stained glass art appeared in such buildings as the United Nations. In 1973, a museum of his works alone was opened in Nice, France. In 1977, the Louvre exhibited 62 of his paintings, an extremely rare event for a living artist. Chagall died at the age of 97 in 1985.

Further Reading

Alexander, Sidney, Marc Chagall: A Biography G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1978.

Chagall, Marc, My Life Peter Owen, 1965.

Compton, Susann Chagall Harry N. Abrams, 1985. □

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Chagall, Marc

CHAGALL, MARC

(18871985), (Mark Zakharovich Shagal), artist.

Marc Chagall was born in Vitebsk, Russia (now in Belarus), a major center of Jewish culture. In 1906 he attended Yehuda Pen's School of Drawing and Painting in Vitebsk, moving to St. Petersburg the next year. Over the next three years, he attended art classes at Nikolai Roerich's Society for the Encouragement of the Arts and at Savely Zeidenberg's private art academy. He also studied under Mstislav Dobuzhinsky at Elizaveta Zvantseva's art school. In 1910 Chagall left for Paris and settled in the Russian artist colony, La Ruche, in Montmartre. After the opening of his first personal exhibition at the gallery Der Sturm in Berlin in 1914, Chagall made a trip to Russia; the outbreak of World War I made a return to Paris impossible.

Chagall was an enthusiastic supporter of the Russian Revolution and was made the first Commissar for Fine Arts in Vitebsk in 1917. He formed the Vitebsk Popular Art School in 1919 and invited Dobuzhinsky, El Lissitzky, Pen, and Ivan Puni (Jean Pougny) to join the faculty. At the same time, Vera Yermolayeva, also teaching at the school, invited Kazimir Malevich to become a member of the staff. Malevich and his followers formed the Unovis (Affirmers of the New Art) group, devoted to Suprematism and essentially hostile to Chagall's leadership. In 1920, after a power struggle, Chagall resigned his directorship and moved to Moscow, where he worked in the Moscow State Yiddish Theater and the Habimah Theater as a set designer and muralist.

Growing increasingly disenchanted with the turmoil of the new communist state, he left Russia in 1922, immigrating to Berlin. After a year, he returned to Paris to find that many of the paintings he had left there were missing. However, he was still able in 1924 to mount his first major retrospective at the Galerie Barbazanges-Hoderbart. He moved to the United States in 1941, fleeing Nazi occupation, returning in 1948.

See also: kandinsky, vassily vassilievich; malevich, kazimir severinovich

bibliography

Bessonova, Marina. (1988). Chagall Discovered: From Russian and Private Collections. New York: H. L. Levin.

Compton, Susan. (1990). Marc Chagall: My Life, My Dream, Berlin and Paris, 19221940. New York: Prestel.

Harshav, Benjamin. (1992). Marc Chagall and the Jewish Theater. New York: The Guggenheim Museum.

Mark Konecny

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"Chagall, Marc." Encyclopedia of Russian History. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Chagall, Marc

Marc Chagall (märk shəgäl´), 1887–1985, Russian painter. In 1907, Chagall left his native Vitebsk for St. Petersburg, where he studied under L. N. Bakst. In Paris (1910) he began to assimilate cubist characteristics into his expressionistic style in such paintings as Half-Past Three (The Poet) (1911; Philadelphia Mus. of Art). Encouraged by Bolshevik proclamations forbidding anti-Semitism and making Jews citizens, Chagall returned to Russia where he founded and became head of Vitebsk's People's Art College. There he quarreled over curriculum with Constructivists, and when Russia's persecution of Jews began again, he returned (1923) to France, where he spent most of his life (he also lived in New York).

Much of Chagall's work is rendered with an extraordinary formal inventiveness and a deceptive fairy-tale naïveté, and he is considered a forerunner of surrealism. His frequently repeated subject matter was drawn from Russian Jewish life and folklore; he was particularly fond of flower and animal symbols. His major early works included murals for the Jewish State Theater (now in the Tretyakov Mus., Moscow). Among his other well-known works are I and the Village (1911; Mus. of Modern Art, New York City) and The Rabbi of Vitebsk (Art Inst., Chicago). Chagall's twelve stained-glass windows, symbolizing the tribes of Israel, were exhibited in Paris and New York City before being installed (1962) in the Hadassah-Hebrew Univ. Medical Center synagogue in Jerusalem. His two vast murals for New York's Metropolitan Opera House, treating symbolically the sources and the triumph of music, were installed in 1966.

Chagall also designed the sets and costumes for Stravinsky's ballet Firebird (1945), and illustrated numerous books, including Gogol's Dead Souls, La Fontaine's Fables, and Illustrations for the Bible (1956). A museum of his work opened in Nice in 1973. His name is also spelled Shagall.

See his autobiography (1931, tr. 1989); biographies by J.-P. Crespelle (1970), S. Alexander (1978), H. Keller (1979), and J. Wullschlager (2008); studies by F. Meyer (tr. 1964), J. J. Sweeney (1946, repr. 1970), W. Haftmann (1974), and J. Wilson (2007).

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Chagall, Marc

Chagall, Marc (1887–1985) Russian-French painter, b. Belarus. His paintings, with their dream-like imagery, considerably influenced surrealism. He worked using ceramics, mosaics and tapestry, and in theatre design. He designed stained-glass windows for Hadassah-Hebrew Medical Centre, Jerusalem (1962), murals for the Paris Opéra and the Metropolitan Opera House, New York (1966), and mosaics and tapestries for the Knesset in Jerusalem (1969).

http://www.guggenheimcollection.org; http://www.tate.org.uk; http://www.hadassah.org.il

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