- NAME: Marc Chagall
- OCCUPATION: Illustrator, Painter
- BIRTH DATE: July 07, 1887
- DEATH DATE: March 28, 1985
- EDUCATION: Imperial Society for the Protection of the Arts
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Vitebsk, Belarus
- PLACE OF DEATH: Saint-Paul de Vence, France
- AKA: Marc Chagall
- Originally: Moishe Shagal
- Full Name: Marc Zaharovich Chagall
- AKA: Moshe Shagal
Best Known For
Marc Chagall was a French artist whose work was generally based on emotional association rather than traditional pictorial fundamentals.
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Paintings such as "The Praying Jew" (or "The Rabbi of Vitebsk"; 1914) and "Jew in Green" (1914) emerged during this period.
Chagall married Bella in 1915, and the flying lovers of "Birthday" (1915-23) and the playful, acrobatic "Double Portrait with a Glass of Wine" (1917) serve as testaments to the joyousness of the artist's spirit during the early years of his marriage.
At first, Chagall was enthusiastic about the Russian Revolution of October 1917,
and he decided to settle in Vitebsk. In 1918, he was appointed commissar for art, and then founded and directed the Vitebsk Popular Art School. Disagreements with the Suprematists (a group of artists primarily concerned with geometric shapes) resulted in Chagall's resignation from the school in 1920, after which he moved to Moscow, there undertaking his first stage designs for the State Jewish Chamber Theater. Chagall then left Russia for good. After a stop-over in Berlin in 1922, the artist returned to Paris in 1923 with his wife and daughter; his first retrospective took place there the following year, at the Galerie Barbazanges-Hodebert.
Chagall had learned engraving while in Berlin, and he received his first engraving commission in 1923, from Paris art dealer and publisher Ambroise Vollard, for creating etchings to illustrate a special edition of Nikolay Gogol's novel Dead Souls. Over the next three years, Chagall completed 107 plates for the Gogol book, 100 gouaches for poet Jean de La Fontaine's Fables, and a series of etchings illustrating the Bible; his career as a printmaker was in full swing.
During the 1930s, besides painting and engraving, Chagall traveled extensively: to the Netherlands, Spain, Poland, Italy and Palestine, where he stayed for two months, visiting the Holy Land to inspire his Bible etchings. In Palestine in 1931, Chagall immersed himself in Jewish life and history, and by the time he returned to France, he had completed 32 of biblical plates (he would create 105 in total).
With Hitler rising to power, a full-blown war was waged in Germany against artists, and, subsequently, anything deemed modern or difficult to interpret being confiscated and burned (with some of Chagall's works being singled out). The once-impressed German press now turned on Chagall, and in response, Chagall's paintings struck a different tone, with terror and persecution taking on foreground roles.
In "Solitude" (1933), Chagall's anxiety over the fate of humanity is represented by an atmosphere of despondency and in the figure of the huddled, pious Jew; in "White Crucifixion" (1938), Jewish and Christian symbols are mixed in a depiction of a Nazi crowd terrorizing Jews. The artist would be dealt another blow in 1939, when Ambroise Vollard died and Chagall's various etching projects were put on hiatus. (Another publisher later picked up where Vollard had left off, issuing Dead Souls in 1948, La Fontaine's Fables in 1952 and the Bible in 1956.)
With the outbreak of World War II, Chagall moved farther and farther south in France, as the Nazi threat became increasingly real for European Jews.
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