Marc CHAGALL

Marc Chagall was born on July 7, 1887, in Vitebsk, Belarus (in the Russian Empire), and was raised in a devoutly Jewish environment. After learning the elements of drawing at school, from 1907 to 1910, Chagall studied painting in St. Petersburg at the Imperial Society for the Protection of the Arts, eventually under stage designer Léon Bakst. Chagall moved to Paris in 1910, into a studio on the edge of town in a Bohemian area. There, he met several writersand artists, including Guillaume Apollinaire, Robert Delaunay and Albert Gleizes. In such artistic company, experimentation was encouraged, and Chagall quickly began developing the poetic and innovative tendencies that had begun to emerge in Russia at the time. At the same time, he came under the influence of the Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and Fauvist picturesmuseums, and was introduced to Fauvism and Cubism. Before long, he was participating in the Salon des Indépendants and the Salon d'Automne (1912), annual French exhibits. This period is considered Chagall's strongest, artistically, and the style he developed would remain with him for the rest of his life. In May of 1915 Chagall married Bella Rosenfeld. She was the inspirational model for his famous series of paintings with passionate flying figures. Chagall was appointed the Commissar of Arts in Vitebsk Province after the Russian Revolution of 1917. He organized the new Vitebsk Art School and also taught there. He moved to Moscow in 1920. There he took an active part in the stage productions of the newly formed Moscow Jewish Theatre, of which he was the Art Director from 1920-1922. After a stop-over in Berlin in 1922, the artist returned to Paris in 1923; 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. 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. With Hitler rising to power, a full-blown war was waged in Germany against artists. 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 1937 Chagall became a naturalized French citizen. In 1941, however, the Chagalls fled the German occupation of Paris and lived in New York until 1947. There Chagall designed decorations for the production of "Firebird" with the music of Igor Stravinsky and choreography by George Balanchine.Thecourse of Chagall's life andart was changed yet again in 1944, when his wife, Bella, passed away. There after, depictions of memories of his wife recurred in Chagall's work; she appears in several forms. Before moving back to France for good in 1948, Chagall was honored with retrospective exhibitions at both the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1948, Chagall settled again in France and during the 1950s, he forayed into painting and modeling ceramics, stone sculptures and mosaics. In 1958, Chagall designed the scenery and costumes for the ballet Daphnis and Chloe for the Paris Opera, from whom, five years later, he received a commission to paint a new ceiling for its theater. Marc Chagall died in Saint-Paul de Vence, France, on March 28, 1985.