Marc Chagall (July 7, 1887—March 28, 1985) was a Russian-born French artist who worked with many media including paint, stage design, stained glass, ceramics, tapestries, and others. He is largely associated with Cubism, Fauvism, and Symbolism. He was one of the premiere Jewish artists of the 20th century.

bild1349788003560Chagall was born in Vitebsk, Belarus, the first of nine children. His family were devout Hasidic Jews who lived within the Pale of Settlement, the section of Russia that the Jewish population was mostly confined to. He attended Jewish day school when he was young, and later attended public high school. His traditional Jewish upbringing influenced much of his work later in life. (Image source)

After studying drawing in school as a child, Chagall went on to study painting at the Imperial Society for the Protection of the Arts in St. Petersburg, under stage designer Léon Bakst. One of his earliest works was created during his time there in 1908, is "The Dead Man."


The Dead Man, source.

In 1910, Chagall moved to Paris, living in a Bohemian area known as La Ruche. There, he met the likes of Guillaume Apollinaire, Robert Delaunay and Albert Gleizes. While experimenting with his own style, he was also influenced by the Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, Fauvist, and Cubist styles he witnessed emerging around him. Some of his most notable works from this period include

"Hommage Apollinaire" (1911-12),


"The Fiddler" (1912)


and "Paris Through the Window" (1913).



After having his first solo exhibit in Berlin in 1914, he returned to Vitebsk. Though he had only intended to marry his fiancee, he became stranded there after the onset of World War I. Excited initially by the Bolshevik Revolution, he decided to stay in Russia with his new wife. He was appointed commissar for art, and not long after, founded the Vitebsk Popular Art School.


"Bella with White Collar," 1917

After disagreements with fellow artists led to his resignation from the School, he moved to Moscow and began work as a stage designer for the State Jewish Chamber Theater.

In 1923, Chagall returned to Paris with his wife and daughter. Soon, he began work as a printmaker, first commissioned to create etchings to illustrate a special edition of Nikolay Gogol's novel Dead Souls.


I and the Village, 1911


The Birthday, 1915


Soon, he was traveling extensively, making a special stop in Palestine to revisit Jewish history and begin work on biblical plates.

As Adolf Hitler rose to power and the artist community in Europe became ever more threatened, Chagall's work took on a darker tone. This can be seen in the works "Solitude" (1933) and "White Crucifixion" (1938).


White Cruxifiction, 1938

By this point, Chagall and his family was in serious danger of being captured by the Nazis. He was one of only 2,000 artists and intellectuals trafficked out of Europe and into the United States with forged visas. He spent many of the next years of his life in New York, designing the sets and costumes of the ballet Aleko (1942) and The Firebird (1945) .


scene from 'The Firebird'

Chagall's wife passed away in 1944, and images of her can be seen in the works Around Her (1945),



The Wedding Candles (1945),



and Nocturne (1947).


In 1948, Chagall returned to France for good. He completed many stained glass projects throughout the late 1960s and 1970s including at the synagogue of Hebrew University's Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, the United Nations building, the Fraumünster Cathedral in Zurich, and the All Saints' Church in the United Kingdom.

Chagall received the Carnegie Prize in 1939, among many other honors.

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  • Birthday Date: Monday, 07 July 2014
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