MARC CHAGALL 1887-1985


Marc Chagall was born on July 7th, 1887 near Vitebsk, Byelorussia. He first studied at the Academy of Saint Petersburg from 1907 to 1910 with Léon Bakst who told him about Cézanne. He travelled to Paris in 1910, where he met contemporary writers and artists. His first solo show was organised by Herwarth Walden in the Berliner gallery Der Sturm in 1914.
Then he returned to Witebsk to found his own art academy in 1918, with El Lissitzky and Kasimir Malevitch, among others, as teachers. Due to arguments with Malevitch, Chagall left the academy. He went to Moscow where he worked as a costume and stage designer at the Jewish theatre. Chagall definitely left Russia in 1922, lived for a short time in Berlin and finally settled in Paris in 1923, where the art dealer Ambroise Vollard ordered him an illustration project for a book the same year. He illustrated Nikolai Gogol's novel Die toten Seelen (The Dead Souls).
In 1925, Marc Chagall worked on illustrations for La Fontaine's fables. His bible illustrations were made between 1931 and 1939.
Marc Chagall created his own timeless and poetic world, always telling stories with poetic images and beautiful colors. Chagall’s main source of inspiration was Russian folk art, Jewish mysticism and legends. He combined all of them with dream visions. Some motifs and metaphors are recurring, such as the loving couple, the rooster or the Jewish figure Shtetl.
Besides paintings, Chagall produced numerous cycles of etchings as well as lithographs. Even though he began lithography only after returning to Paris, he reached a certain mastery within a very short time. He realized numerous public commissions between 1950 and 1970 and designed, for instance, the glass windows for the cathedral of Metz, the cathedral Notre-Dame of Reims, the synagogue of the Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem and St. Stephen's Church in Mainz. He also realized a ceiling for the cupola above the main auditorium of the Opéra Garnier in Paris, in 1963 and in 1964 he began to work on murals for the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Marc Chagall remained in the USA during World War II in 1941. His first retrospective exhibition took place at the MoMA in New York in 1946.
The artist returned to Paris in 1947 and settled in Saint-Paul-de-Vence in 1950, where he died on March 28th, 1985.