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Marc Zakharovich Chagall, 1887-1985, was a Belarussian-Russian-French artist. Chagall oil paintings suggested both Jewish and Christian themes. He synthesized the art forms of Cubism, Symbolism, and Fauvism, and the influence of Fauvism gave rise to Surrealism. He was considered to be the last survivor of the first generation of European modernists and the world's preeminent Jewish artist. He produced windows for the UN, and the Jerusalem Windows in Israel. In 2010, Chagall painting Bestiaire et Musique, was sold for $4.1 million in HongKong.
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Marc Chagall Paris
Marc Chagall (en anglais : Michelangelo Marc Zakharovich Chagall), 1887-1985, est un peintre de nationalité russe, soviétique et française. Les peintures de Chagall comprenne les sujets de la religion juive et chrétienne. Il combine l'art du cubisme, du symbolisme et du fauvisme. L'influence du fauvisme a nourri le surréalisme. En 2010, la peinture « Bestiaire et Musique » de Chagall a été adjugée pour 4,18 millions de dollars à Hong Kong. Il est considéré comme « le dernier survivant de la première génération des modernistes européens » et aussi un artiste juif renommé du monde. Il a peint un vitrail dans l'enceinte du siège des Organisation des Nations Unies (ONU) et les vitraux de la synagogue de l'hôpital Hadassah à Jérusalem: Les Douze Tribus d'Israël (Jerusalem Windows).
Chagall Bilder Werke
Marc Zakharovich Chagall, 1887-1985, war ein weißrussisch-russisch-französischer Maler. Judentum und Christentum sind wesentliche Themen seiner Bilder. Seine Kunst kombinierte Elemente des Kubismus, des Symbolismus und des Fauvismus, welcher wiederum maßgeblich auf die Entstehung des Surrealismus einwirkte. Er wird generall als der letzte große Meister der ersten Welle des Modernismus und als einer der wenigen weltbekannten jüdischen Künstler überhaupt angesehen. Für die Vereinten Nationen besorgter er Fenstermalereien und zeichnet auch für die "Jerusalem Windows" in Israel verantwortlich. 2010 wurde Chagalls Ölgemälde „Bestiaire et Musique” für 410,000 Dollar in Hongkong veräußert.
Marc Chagall Blue Lovers
马克•夏加尔(英语姓名Marc Zakharovich Chagall), 1887-1985,是一位白俄罗斯(Belarussian)-俄国-法国三国国籍的艺术家。 夏加尔的画作暗含犹太教(Jewish)和基督教两种主题。他综合了立体主义(Cubism)、象征主义(Symbolism)、和野兽派(Fauvism)的艺术形式اللوحات الفنية ,野兽派的影响孕育了超现实主义(Surrealism)。他被视为欧洲第一批现代主义者(modernists)的最后硕果,也是世界著名的犹太艺术家。他为联合国(UN)绘制彩窗,和以色列(Israel)的耶路撒冷之窗(Jerusalem Windows)。 2010年,夏加尔的油画《动物寓言与音乐》(Bestiaire et Musique)在香港售价410万美元。
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Much like Dali, Marc Chagall was a major part of several movements. The differences between the two was that Chagall lacked the flair that Dali exuded on a daily basis. That lack of flair led to no issues at all with him creating some of the best Chagall oil paintings for sale of his time. Born on July 7th 1887, he was a Russian painter that later became French. Known as a modernist, Chagall didn’t restrict himself to just painting his dreams. He was skilled in book illustrations, stage sets, ceramic, stained glass and even tapestries. Spending all of his career trying to fight the pigeonhole of being considered a Jewish artist, Chagall was much more that and it showed in his mastery of styles. At one point he even founded his own style with a mixture of Eastern European Jewish folk culture. There is a small sampling throughout his career, and truth be told, no one else has done it better. Chagall was so well regarded that fellow artist Pablo Picasso respected him even in the 1950’s as a pioneer. While Salvador Dali campaigned for his fame by being a celebrity, Chagall gained international fame through merit of his oil painting alone.
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Comments on Artist Marc Chagall

Chagall was considered to be "the last survivor of the first generation of European modernists". For decades, he "had also been respected as the world's preeminent Jewish artist". Using the medium of stained glass, he produced windows for the cathedrals of Reims and Metz, windows for the UN, and the Jerusalem Windows in Israel. He also did large-scale Marc Chagall paintings, including part of the ceiling of the Paris Opéra.
Before World War I, he travelled between Saint Petersburg, Paris and Berlin. During this period he created his own mixture and style of modern art based on his idea of Eastern European Jewish folk culture as roy lichtenstein. He spent the wartime years in Soviet Belarus, becoming one of the country's most distinguished artists and a member of the modernist avant-garde, founding the Vitebsk Arts College before leaving again for Paris in 1922.
He had two basic reputations, writes in toperfect reviews: as a pioneer of modernism and as a major Jewish artist. He experienced modernism's "golden age" in Paris, where "he synthesized the art forms of Cubism, Symbolism, and Fauvism, and the influence of Fauvism gave rise to Surrealism" such as rene magritte, joan miro. Yet throughout these phases of his style "he remained most emphatically a Jewish artist, whose work was one long dreamy reverie of life in his native village of Vitebsk." "When Matisse dies," Pablo Picasso remarked in the 1950s, "Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what colour really is".
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Biography of Artist Marc Chagall

Marc Chagall was born Moishe Segal in a Lithuanian Jewish family in Liozna, near the city of Vitebsk (Belarus, then part of the Russian Empire) in 1887. At the time of his birth, Vitebsk's population was about 66,000, with half the population being Jewish, that's different with diego rivera and frida kahlo. A picturesque city of churches and synagogues, it was called "Russian Toledo", after a cosmopolitan city of the former Spanish Empire. As the city mentioned in toperfect.com reviews & complaints was built mostly of wood, little of it survived years of occupation and destruction during World War II.
Chagall was the eldest of nine children. The family name, Shagal, is a variant of the name Segal, which in a Jewish community was usually borne by a Levitic family. His father, Khatskl (Zachar) Shagal, was employed by a herring merchant, and his mother, Feige-Ite, sold groceries from their home.
Most of what is known about Chagall's early life has come from his autobiography, My Life. In it, he described the major influence that the culture of Hasidic Judaism had on his life as an artist. Vitebsk itself had been a center of that culture dating from the 1730s with its teachings derived from the Kabbalah. Famous modern oil painters of contemporary art for sale are andy warhol, and jack vettriano.
In Russia at that time, Jewish children were not allowed to attend regular Russian schools or universities. Their movement within the city was also restricted. Chagall therefore received his primary education of oil painting at the local Jewish religious school, where he studied Hebrew and the Bible as said by toperfect.com reviews. At the age of 13, his mother tried to enroll him in a Russian high school, and he recalled, "But in that school, they don't take Jews. Without a moment's hesitation, my courageous mother walks up to a professor." She offered the headmaster 50 roubles to let him attend, which he accepted. 馬克•夏卡爾

List of paintings famous as Chagall artworks are: Mona Lisa, The Last Supper.
In 1906, he moved to Saint Petersburg which was then the capital of Russia and the center of the country's artistic life with its famous art schools. Since Jews were not permitted into the city without an internal passport, he managed to get a temporary passport from a friend, not tamara de lempicka or edward hopper. He enrolled in a prestigious art school and studied there for two years. By 1907, he had begun painting naturalistic portraits and landscape paintings.
In 1910, Chagall relocated to Paris to develop his artistic style. Art historian and curator James Sweeney notes that when Chagall first arrived in Paris, Cubism was the dominant art form, and French art was still dominated by the "materialistic outlook of the 19th century".
The last Chagall artwork was a commissioned piece of art for the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago where also display works by norman rockwell. The maquette painting titled Job was completed, but Chagall died just before the completion of the tapestry. Yavett Cauquil Pierce was weaving the tapestry under Chagall's supervision and was the last person to work with Chagall before his death. She left Vava and Marc Chagall's home at 4 pm on 28 March after discussing and matching the final colors from the maquette painting for the tapestry. He died that evening.

More Information about Marc Chagall Biography


Marc Zakharovich Chagall (/ʃəˈɡɑːl/ shə-GAHL; born Moishe Zakharovich Shagalov; 6 July [O.S. 24 June] 1887 – 28 March 1985) was a Russian-French artist of Belarusian Jewish origin. An early modernist, he was associated with several major artistic styles and created works in virtually every artistic format, including Marc Chagall painting, book illustrations, stained glass, stage sets, ceramic, tapestries and fine art prints.

Art critic Robert Hughes referred to Chagall as "the quintessential Jewish artist of the twentieth century" (though Chagall saw his work as "not the dream of one people but of all humanity"). According to art historian Michael J. Lewis, Chagall was considered to be "the last survivor of the first generation of European modernists". For decades, he "had also been respected as the world's preeminent Jewish artist". Using the medium of stained glass, he produced windows for the cathedrals of Reims and Metz, windows for the UN, and the Jerusalem Windows in Israel. He also did large-scale Marc Chagall paintings, including part of the ceiling of the Paris Opéra.

Before World War I, he travelled between Saint Petersburg, Paris and Berlin. During this period he created his own mixture and style of modern art based on his idea of Eastern European Jewish folk culture. He spent the wartime years in Soviet Belarus, becoming one of the country's most distinguished artists and a member of the modernist avant-garde, founding the Vitebsk Arts College before leaving again for Paris in 1922.

He had two basic reputations, writes Lewis: as a pioneer of modernism and as a major Jewish artist. He experienced modernism's "golden age" in Paris, where "he synthesized the art forms of Cubism, Symbolism, and Fauvism, and the influence of Fauvism gave rise to Surrealism". Yet throughout these phases of his style "he remained most emphatically a Jewish artist, whose work was one long dreamy reverie of life in his native village of Vitebsk." "When Matisse dies," Pablo Picasso remarked in the 1950s, "Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what colour really is".

Early life and education
Early life
Marc Chagall was born Moishe Segal in a Lithuanian Jewish family in Liozna, near the city of Vitebsk (Belarus, then part of the Russian Empire) in 1887. At the time of his birth, Vitebsk's population was about 66,000, with half the population being Jewish. A picturesque city of churches and synagogues, it was called "Russian Toledo", after a cosmopolitan city of the former Spanish Empire. As the city was built mostly of wood, little of it survived years of occupation and destruction during World War II.

Chagall was the eldest of nine children. The family name, Shagal, is a variant of the name Segal, which in a Jewish community was usually borne by a Levitic family. His father, Khatskl (Zachar) Shagal, was employed by a herring merchant, and his mother, Feige-Ite, sold groceries from their home. His father worked hard, carrying heavy barrels but earning only 20 roubles each month (the average wages across the Russian Empire being 13 roubles a month). Chagall would later include fish motifs "out of respect for his father", writes Chagall biographer, Jacob Baal-Teshuva. Chagall wrote of these early years:

Day after day, winter and summer, at six o'clock in the morning, my father got up and went off to the synagogue. There he said his usual prayer for some dead man or other. On his return he made ready the samovar, drank some tea and went to work. Hellish work, the Marc Chagall work of a galley-slave. Why try to hide it? How tell about it? No word will ever ease my father's lot... There was always plenty of butter and cheese on our table. Buttered bread, like an eternal symbol, was never out of my childish hands.

One of the main sources of income of the Jewish population of the town was from the manufacture of clothing that was sold throughout Russia. They also made furniture and various agricultural tools. From the late 18th century to the First World War, the Russian government confined Jews to living within the Pale of Settlement, which included modern Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia, almost exactly corresponding to the territory of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth recently taken over by Imperial Russia. This caused the creation of Jewish market-villages (shtetls) throughout today's Eastern Europe, with their own markets, schools, hospitals, and other community institutions.

Most of what is known about Chagall's early life has come from his autobiography, My Life. In it, he described the major influence that the culture of Hasidic Judaism had on his life as an artist. Vitebsk itself had been a center of that culture dating from the 1730s with its teachings derived from the Kabbalah, The Scream, Starry Night Van Gogh. Chagall scholar Susan Tumarkin Goodman describes the links and sources of his art to his early home:

Chagall's art can be understood as the response to a situation that has long marked the history of Russian Jews. Though they were cultural innovators who made important contributions to the broader society, Jews were considered outsiders in a frequently hostile society... Chagall himself was born of a family steeped in religious life; his parents were observant Hasidic Jews who found spiritual satisfaction in a life defined by their faith and organized by prayer.

Chagall was friends with Sholom Dovber Schneersohn, and later with Menachem M. Schneerson.

Art education

In Russia at that time, Jewish children were not allowed to attend regular Russian schools or universities. Their movement within the city was also restricted. Chagall therefore received his primary education at the local Jewish religious school, where he studied Hebrew and the Bible. At the age of 13, his mother tried to enroll him in a Russian high school, and he recalled, "But in that school, they don't take Jews. Without a moment's hesitation, my courageous mother walks up to a professor." She offered the headmaster 50 roubles to let him attend, which he accepted.

A turning point of his artistic life came when he first noticed a fellow student drawing. Baal-Teshuva writes that for the young Chagall, watching someone draw "was like a vision, a revelation in black and white". Chagall would later say that there was no art of any kind in his family's home and the concept was totally alien to him. When Chagall asked the schoolmate how he learned to draw Picasso Guernica, Melting Clocks, his friend replied, "Go and find a book in the library, idiot, choose any picture you like, and just copy it". He soon began copying images from books and found the experience so rewarding he then decided he wanted to become an artist.

He eventually confided to his mother, "I want to be a painter", although she could not yet understand his sudden interest in art or why he would choose a vocation that "seemed so impractical", writes Goodman. The young Chagall explained, "There's a place in town; if I'm admitted and if I complete the course, I'll come out a regular artist. I'd be so happy!" It was 1906, and he had noticed the studio of Yehuda (Yuri) Pen, a realist artist who also operated a small drawing school in Vitebsk, which included the future artists El Lissitzky and Ossip Zadkine. Due to Chagall's youth and lack of income, Pen offered to teach him free of charge. However, after a few months at the school, Chagall realized that academic portrait painting did not suit his desires.

Artistic inspiration

Marc Chagall, 1912, Calvary (Golgotha), oil on canvas, 174.6 × 192.4 cm, Museum of Modern Art, New York. Alternative titles: Kreuzigung Bild 2 Christus gewidmet [Golgotha. Crucifixion. Dedicated to Christ]. Sold through Galerie Der Sturm (Herwarth Walden), Berlin to Bernhard Koehler (1849–1927), Berlin, 1913. Exhibited: Erster Deutscher Herbstsalon, Berlin, 1913 Goodman notes that during this period in Russia, Jews had two basic alternatives for joining the art world of Persistence Of Memory and The Birth of Venus: One was to "hide or deny one's Jewish roots". The other alternative—the one that Chagall chose—was "to cherish and publicly express one's Jewish roots" by integrating them into his art. For Chagall, this was also his means of "self-assertion and an expression of principle."

Chagall biographer Franz Meyer, explains that with the connections between his art and early life "the hassidic spirit is still the basis and source of nourishment for his art." Lewis adds, "As cosmopolitan an artist as he would later become, his storehouse of visual imagery would never expand beyond the landscape of his childhood, with its snowy streets, wooden houses, and ubiquitous fiddlers... [with] scenes of childhood so indelibly in one's mind and to invest them with an emotional charge so intense that it could only be discharged obliquely through an obsessive repetition of the same cryptic symbols and ideograms... "

Why? Why did I leave you many years ago? ... You thought, the boy seeks something, seeks such a special subtlety, that color descending like stars from the sky and landing, bright and transparent, like snow on our roofs. Where did he get it? How would it come to a boy like him? I don't know why he couldn't find it with us, in the city—in his homeland. Maybe the boy is "crazy", but "crazy" for the sake of art like Primavera Botticelli and Dogs Playing Poker. ...You thought: "I can see, I am etched in the boy's heart, but he is still 'flying,' he is still striving to take off, he has 'wind' in his head." ... I did not live with you, but I didn't have one single Marc Chagall painting that didn't breathe with your spirit and reflection.

Art career
Russia (1906–1910)
In 1906, he moved to Saint Petersburg which was then the capital of Russia and the center of the country's artistic life with its famous art schools. Since Jews were not permitted into the city without an internal passport, he managed to get a temporary passport from a friend. He enrolled in a prestigious art school and studied there for two years. By 1907, he had begun painting naturalistic self-portraits and landscapes.

Between 1908 and 1910, Chagall was a student of Léon Bakst at the Zvantseva School of Drawing and Marc Chagall Painting. While in Saint Petersburg, he discovered experimental theater and the Marc Chagall artwork of such artists as Paul Gauguin. Bakst, also Jewish, The Kiss Klimt, Creation of Adam, was a designer of decorative art and was famous as a draftsman designer of stage sets and costumes for the 'Ballets Russes,' and helped Chagall by acting as a role model for Jewish success. Bakst moved to Paris a year later. Art historian Raymond Cogniat writes that after living and studying art on his own for four years, "Chagall entered into the mainstream of contemporary art. ...His apprenticeship over, Russia had played a memorable initial role in his life."

Chagall stayed in Saint Petersburg until 1910, often visiting Vitebsk where he met Bella Rosenfeld. In My Life, Chagall described his first meeting her: "Her silence is mine, her eyes mine. It is as if she knows everything about my childhood, my present, my future, as if she can see right through me."

France (1910–1914)
Marc Chagall, 1912, The Fiddler, an inspiration for the musical Fiddler on the Roof In 1910, Chagall relocated to Paris to develop his artistic style. Art historian and curator James Sweeney notes that when Chagall first arrived in Paris, Cubism was the dominant art form, and French art was still dominated by the "materialistic outlook of the 19th century". But Chagall arrived from Russia with "a ripe color gift, a fresh, unashamed response to sentiment, a feeling for simple poetry and a sense of humor", he adds. These notions were alien to Paris at that time, and as a result, his first recognition came not from other painters but from poets such as Blaise Cendrars and Guillaume Apollinaire, Girl With A Pearl Earring, Cafe Terrace at Night. Art historian Jean Leymarie observes that Chagall began thinking of art as "emerging from the internal being outward, from the seen object to the psychic outpouring", which was the reverse of the Cubist way of creating.

He therefore developed friendships with Guillaume Apollinaire and other avant-garde luminaries such as Robert Delaunay and Fernand Léger. Baal-Teshuva writes that "Chagall's dream of Paris, the city of light and above all, of freedom, had come true.":33 His first days were a hardship for the 23-year-old Chagall, who was lonely in the big city and unable to speak French. Some days he "felt like fleeing back to Russia, as he daydreamed while he painted, about the riches of Russian folklore, his Hasidic experiences, his family, and especially Bella".

In Paris, he enrolled at Académie de La Palette, an avant-garde school of art where the painters Jean Metzinger, André Dunoyer de Segonzac and Henri Le Fauconnier taught, and also found work at another academy. He would spend his free hours visiting galleries and salons, especially the Louvre; artists he came to admire included Rembrandt for Night Watch, the Le Nain brothers, Chardin, Van Gogh for Self Portrait Iris and Sunflowers, Renoir, Pissarro, Matisse, Gauguin, Courbet, Millet, Manet for Olympia, Monet for Water Lilies and Impression Sunrise, Delacroix for Liberty Leading the People, and others. It was in Paris that he learned the technique of gouache, which he used to paint Belarusian scenes. He also visited Montmartre and the Latin Quarter "and was happy just breathing Parisian air." Baal-Teshuva describes this new phase in Chagall's artistic development: Chagall was exhilarated, intoxicated, as he strolled through the streets and along the banks of the Seine. Everything about the French capital excited him: the shops, the smell of fresh bread in the morning, the markets with their fresh fruit and vegetables, the wide boulevards, the cafés and restaurants, and above all the Eiffel Tower.

Another completely new world that opened up for him was the kaleidoscope of colours and forms in the works of French artists. Chagall enthusiastically reviewed their many different tendencies, having to rethink his position as an artist and decide what creative avenue he wanted to pursue.

During his time in Paris, Chagall was constantly reminded of his home in Vitebsk, as Paris was also home to many painters, writers, poets, composers, dancers, and other émigrés from the Russian Empire. However, "night after night he painted until dawn", only then going to bed for a few hours, and resisted the many temptations of the big city at night.:44 "My homeland exists only in my soul", he once said.:viii He continued painting Jewish motifs and subjects from his memories of Vitebsk, although he included Parisian scenes—- the Eiffel Tower in particular, along with portraits. Many of Marc Chagall works were updated versions of paintings he had made in Russia, transposed into Fauvist or Cubist keys.

Marc Chagall, 1912, Still-life (Nature morte), oil on canvas, private collection Chagall developed a whole repertoire of quirky motifs: ghostly figures floating in the sky, ... the gigantic fiddler dancing on miniature dollhouses, the livestock and transparent wombs and, within them, tiny offspring sleeping upside down. The majority of his scenes of life in Vitebsk were painted while living in Paris, and "in a sense they were dreams", notes Lewis. Their "undertone of yearning and loss", with a detached and abstract appearance, caused Apollinaire to be "struck by this quality", calling them "surnaturel!" His "animal/human hybrids and airborne phantoms" would later become a formative influence on Surrealism, not Las Meninas. Chagall, however, did not want Marc Chagall artwork to be associated with any school or movement and considered his own personal language of symbols to be meaningful to himself. But Sweeney notes that others often still associate his work with "illogical and fantastic Marc Chagall painting", especially when he uses "curious representational juxtapositions".

Sweeney writes that "This is Chagall's contribution to contemporary art: the reawakening of a poetry of representation, avoiding factual illustration on the one hand, and non-figurative abstractions on the other". André Breton said that "with him alone, the metaphor made its triumphant return to modern painting".

Russia and Soviet Belarus (1914–1922)
Because he missed his fiancée, Bella, who was still in Vitebsk—"He thought about her day and night", writes Baal-Teshuva—and was afraid of losing her, Chagall decided to accept an invitation from a noted art dealer in Berlin to exhibit Marc Chagall artwork, his intention being to continue on to Belarus, marry Bella, and then return with her to Paris. Chagall took 40 canvases and 160 gouaches, watercolors and drawings to be exhibited. The exhibit, held at Herwarth Walden's Sturm Gallery was a huge success, "The German critics positively sang his praises."

People's Art School where the Vitebsk Museum of Modern Art was situated After the exhibit, he continued on to Vitebsk, where he planned to stay only long enough to marry Bella. However, after a few weeks, the First World War began, closing the Russian border for an indefinite period. A year later he married Bella Rosenfeld and they had their first child, Ida. Before the marriage, Chagall had difficulty convincing Bella's parents that he would be a suitable husband for their daughter. They were worried about her marrying a painter from a poor family and wondered how he would support her. Becoming a successful artist now became a goal and inspiration. According to Lewis, "he euphoric Marc Chagall paintings of this time, which show the young couple floating balloon-like over Vitebsk—its wooden buildings faceted in the Delaunay manner—are the most lighthearted of his career". His wedding pictures were also a subject he would return to in later years as he thought about this period of his life.

Bella with White Collar, 1917
In 1915, Chagall began exhibiting his work in Moscow, first exhibiting Marc Chagall works at a well-known salon and in 1916 exhibiting pictures in St. Petersburg. He again showed his art at a Moscow exhibition of avant-garde artists. This exposure brought recognition, and a number of wealthy collectors began buying his art. He also began illustrating a number of Yiddish books with ink drawings. He illustrated I. L. Peretz's The Magician in 1917. Chagall was 30 years old and had begun to become well known.

The October Revolution of 1917 was a dangerous time for Chagall although it also offered opportunity. By then he was one of the Russia's most distinguished artists and a member of the modernist avant-garde, which enjoyed special privileges and prestige as the "aesthetic arm of the revolution". He was offered a notable position as a commissar of visual arts for the country[clarification needed], but preferred something less political, and instead accepted a job as commissar of arts for Vitebsk. This resulted in his founding the Vitebsk Arts College which, adds Lewis, became the "most distinguished school of art in the Soviet Union".

It obtained for its faculty some of the most important artists in the country, such as El Lissitzky and Kazimir Malevich. He also added his first teacher, Yehuda Pen. Chagall tried to create an atmosphere of a collective of independently minded artists, each with their own unique style. However, this would soon prove to be difficult as a few of the key faculty members preferred a Suprematist art of squares and circles, and disapproved of Chagall's attempt at creating "bourgeois individualism". Chagall then resigned as commissar and moved to Moscow.

In Moscow he was offered a job as stage designer for the newly formed State Jewish Chamber Theater. It was set to begin operation in early 1921 with a number of plays by Sholem Aleichem. For its opening he created a number of large background murals using techniques he learned from Bakst, his early teacher. One of the main murals was 9 feet (2.7 m) tall by 24 feet (7.3 m) long and included images of various lively subjects such as dancers, fiddlers, acrobats, and farm animals. One critic at the time called it "Hebrew jazz in paint". Chagall created it as a "storehouse of symbols and devices", notes Lewis. The murals "constituted a landmark" in the history of the theatre, and were forerunners of later large-scale Marc Chagall works, including murals for the New York Metropolitan Opera and the Paris Opera.

Famine spread after the war ended in 1918. The Chagalls found it necessary to move to a smaller, less expensive, town near Moscow, although he now had to commute to Moscow daily using crowded trains. In 1921, he worked as an art teacher in a Jewish boys' shelter in suburban Malakhovka, which housed orphaned refugees from Ukrainian pogroms.:270 While there, he created a series of illustrations for the Yiddish poetry cycle Grief written by David Hofstein, who was another teacher at the Malakhovka shelter.

After spending the years between 1921 and 1922 living in primitive conditions, he decided to go back to France so that he could develop his art in a more comfortable country. Numerous other artists, writers, and musicians were also planning to relocate to the West. He applied for an exit visa and while waiting for its uncertain approval, wrote his autobiography, My Life.

France (1923–1941)
In 1923, Chagall left Moscow to return to France. On his way he stopped in Berlin to recover the many pictures he had left there on exhibit ten years earlier, before the war began, but was unable to find or recover any of them. Nonetheless, after returning to Paris he again "rediscovered the free expansion and fulfillment which were so essential to him", writes Lewis. With all early Marc Chagall artworks now lost, he began trying to paint from his memories of his earliest years in Vitebsk with sketches and Marc Chagall oil paintings.

He formed a business relationship with French art dealer Ambroise Vollard. This inspired him to begin creating etchings for a series of illustrated books, including Gogol's Dead Souls, the Bible, and the La Fontaine's Fables. These illustrations would eventually come to represent his finest printmaking efforts. In 1924, he travelled to Brittany and painted La fenêtre sur l'Île-de-Bréhat. By 1926 he had his first exhibition in the United States at the Reinhardt gallery of New York which included about 100 Marc Chagall works, although he did not travel to the opening. He instead stayed in France, "painting ceaselessly", notes Baal-Teshuva. It was not until 1927 that Chagall made his name in the French art world, when art critic and historian Maurice Raynal awarded him a place in his book Modern French Painters. However, Raynal was still at a loss to accurately describe Chagall to his readers: Chagall interrogates life in the light of a refined, anxious, childlike sensibility, a slightly romantic temperament ... a blend of sadness and gaiety characteristic of a grave view of life. His imagination, his temperament, no doubt forbid a Latin severity of composition.

During this period he traveled throughout France and the Côte d'Azur, where he enjoyed the landscapes, colorful vegetation, the blue Mediterranean Sea, and the mild weather. He made repeated trips to the countryside, taking his sketchbook.:9 He also visited nearby countries and later wrote about the impressions some of those travels left on him: I should like to recall how advantageous my travels outside France have been for me in an artistic sense—in Holland or in Spain, Italy, Egypt, Palestine, or simply in the south of France. There, in the south, for the first time in my life, I saw that rich greenness—the like of which I had never seen in my own country. In Holland I thought I discovered that familiar and throbbing light, like the light between the late afternoon and dusk. In Italy I found that peace of the museums which the sunlight brought to life. In Spain I was happy to find the inspiration of a mystical, if sometimes cruel, past, to find the song of its sky and of its people. And in the East [Palestine] I found unexpectedly the Bible and a part of my very being.

The Bible illustrations
After returning to Paris from one of his trips, Vollard commissioned Chagall to illustrate the Old Testament. Although he could have completed the project in France, he used the assignment as an excuse to travel to Israel to experience for himself the Holy Land. He arrived there in February 1931 and ended up staying for two months. Chagall felt at home in Israel where many people spoke Yiddish and Russian. According to Jacob Baal-Teshuva, "he was impressed by the pioneering spirit of the people in the kibbutzim and deeply moved by the Wailing Wall and the other holy places".

Chagall later told a friend that Israel gave him "the most vivid impression he had ever received". Wullschlager notes, however, that whereas Delacroix and Matisse had found inspiration in the exoticism of North Africa, he as a Jew in Israel had different perspective. "What he was really searching for there was not external stimulus but an inner authorization from the land of his ancestors, to plunge into Marc Chagall art on the Bible illustrations".:343 Chagall stated that "In the East I found the Bible and part of my own being."

As a result, he immersed himself in "the history of the Jews, their trials, prophecies, and disasters", notes Wullschlager. She adds that beginning the assignment was an "extraordinary risk" for Chagall, as he had finally become well known as a leading contemporary painter, but would now end his modernist themes and delve into "an ancient past".:350 Between 1931 and 1934 he worked "obsessively" on "The Bible", even going to Amsterdam in order to carefully study the biblical paintings of Rembrandt and El Greco, to see the extremes of religious Marc Chagall painting. He walked the streets of the city's Jewish quarter to again feel the earlier atmosphere. He told Franz Meyer: I did not see the Bible, I dreamed it. Ever since early childhood, I have been captivated by the Bible. It has always seemed to me and still seems today the greatest source of poetry of all time.

Chagall saw the Old Testament as a "human story, ... not with the creation of the cosmos but with the creation of man, and his figures of angels are rhymed or combined with human ones", writes Wullschlager. She points out that in one of his early Bible images, "Abraham and the Three Angels", the angels sit and chat over a glass of wine "as if they have just dropped by for dinner".

He returned to France and by the next year had completed 32 out of the total of 105 plates. By 1939, at the beginning of World War II, he had finished 66. However, Vollard died that same year. When the series was completed in 1956, it was published by Edition Tériade. Baal-Teshuva writes that "the illustrations were stunning and met with great acclaim. Once again Chagall had shown himself to be one of the 20th century's most important graphic artists".:135 Leymarie has described these drawings by Chagall as "monumental" and, ...full of divine inspiration, which retrace the legendary destiny and the epic history of Israel to Genesis to the Prophets, through the Patriarchs and the Heroes. Each picture becomes one with the event, informing the text with a solemn intimacy unknown since Rembrandt.

Nazi campaigns against modern art
Not long after Chagall began his work on the Bible, Adolf Hitler gained power in Germany. Anti-Semitic laws were being introduced and the first concentration camp at Dachau had been established. Wullschlager describes the early effects on art: The Nazis had begun their campaign against modernist art as soon as they seized power. Expressionist, cubist, abstract, and surrealist art—anything intellectual, Jewish, foreign, socialist-inspired, or difficult to understand—was targeted, from Picasso and Matisse going back to Cézanne and van Gogh; in its place traditional German realism, accessible and open to patriotic interpretation, was extolled.

Beginning during 1937 about twenty thousand Marc Chagall works from German museums were confiscated as "degenerate" by a committee directed by Joseph Goebbels. Although the German press had once "swooned over him", the new German authorities now made a mockery of Chagall's art, describing them as "green, purple, and red Jews shooting out of the earth, fiddling on violins, flying through the air ... representing [an] assault on Western civilization".

After Germany invaded and occupied France, the Chagalls naively remained in Vichy France, unaware that French Jews, with the help of the Vichy government, were being collected and sent to German concentration camps, from which few would return. The Vichy collaborationist government, directed by Marshal Philippe Pétain, immediately upon assuming power established a commission to "redefine French citizenship" with the aim of stripping "undesirables", including naturalized citizens, of their French nationality. Chagall had been so involved with his art, that it was not until October 1940, after the Vichy government, at the behest of the Nazi occupying forces, began approving anti-Semitic laws, that he began to understand what was happening. Learning that Jews were being removed from public and academic positions, the Chagalls finally "woke up to the danger they faced". But Wullschlager notes that "by then they were trapped". Their only refuge could be America, but "they could not afford the passage to New York" or the large bond that each immigrant had to provide upon entry to ensure that they would not become a financial burden to the country.

Escaping occupied France
According to Wullschlager, "[T]he speed with which France collapsed astonished everyone: the French army, with British support, capitulated even more quickly than Poland had done" a year earlier. "Shock waves crossed the Atlantic... as Paris had until then been equated with civilization throughout the non-Nazi world.":388 Yet the attachment of the Chagalls to France "blinded them to the urgency of the situation.":389 Many other well-known Russian and Jewish artists eventually sought to escape: these included Chaim Soutine, Max Ernst, Max Beckmann, Ludwig Fulda, author Victor Serge and prize-winning author Vladimir Nabokov, who although not Jewish himself, was married to a Jewish woman.:1181 Russian author Victor Serge described many of the people living temporarily in Marseille who were waiting to emigrate to America: Here is a beggar's alley gathering the remnants of revolutions, democracies and crushed intellects... In our ranks are enough doctors, psychologists, engineers, educationalists, poets, painters, writers, musicians, economists and public men to vitalize a whole great country.

After prodding by their daughter Ida, who "perceived the need to act fast",:388 and with help from Alfred Barr of the New York Museum of Modern Art, Chagall was saved by having his name added to the list of prominent artists whose lives were at risk and who the United States should try to extricate. Varian Fry, the American journalist, and Hiram Bingham IV, the American Vice-Consul in Marseilles, ran a rescue operation to smuggle artists and intellectuals out of Europe to the US by providing them with forged visas to the US. Chagall was one of over 2,000 who were rescued by this operation. He left France in May 1941, "when it was almost too late", adds Lewis. Picasso and henri matisse were also invited to come to America but they decided to remain in France. Chagall and Bella arrived in New York on 23 June 1941, the day after Germany invaded the Soviet Union.:150 Ida and her husband Michel followed on the notorious refugee ship SS Navemar with a large case of Chagall's work. A chance post-war meeting in a French café between Ida and intelligence analyst Konrad Kellen led to Kellen carrying more paintings on his return to the United States.

United States (1941–1948)
Even before arriving in the United States in 1941, Chagall was awarded the Carnegie Prize third prize in 1939 for "Les Fiancés". After being in America he discovered that he had already achieved "international stature", writes Cogniat, although he felt ill-suited in this new role in a foreign country whose language he could not yet speak. He became a celebrity mostly against his will, feeling lost in the strange surroundings.

After a while he began to settle in New York, which was full of writers, painters, and composers who, like himself, had fled from Europe during the Nazi invasions. He lived at 4 East 74th Street. He spent time visiting galleries and museums, and befriended other artists including Piet Mondrian and André Breton.

Baal-Teshuva writes that Chagall "loved" going to the sections of New York where Jews lived, especially the Lower East Side. There he felt at home, enjoying the Jewish foods and being able to read the Yiddish press, which became his main source of information since he did not yet speak English.

Contemporary artists did not yet understand or even like Chagall's art. According to Baal-Teshuva, "they had little in common with a folkloristic storyteller of Russo-Jewish extraction with a propensity for mysticism." The Paris School, which was referred to as 'Parisian Surrealism,' meant little to them.:155 Those attitudes would begin to change, however, when Pierre Matisse, the son of recognized French artist Henri Matisse, became his representative and managed Chagall exhibitions in New York and Chicago in 1941. One of the earliest exhibitions included 21 of his masterpieces from 1910 to 1941. Art critic Henry McBride wrote about this exhibit for the New York Sun: Chagall is about as gypsy as they come... these pictures do more for his reputation than anything we have previously seen... His colors sparkle with poetry... Marc Chagall art is authentically Russian as a Volga boatman's song...

Aleko ballet (1942)
He was offered a commission by choreographer Leonid Massine of the New York Ballet Theatre to design the sets and costumes for his new ballet, Aleko. This ballet would stage the words of Pushkin's verse narrative The Gypsies with the music of Tchaikovsky. While Chagall had done stage settings before while in Russia, this was his first ballet, and it would give him the opportunity to visit Mexico. While there he quickly began to appreciate the "primitive ways and colorful art of the Mexicans," notes Cogniat. He found "something very closely related to his own nature", and did all the color detail for the sets while there. Eventually, he created four large backdrops and had Mexican seamstresses sew the ballet costumes.

When the ballet premiered on 8 September 1942 it was considered a "remarkable success." In the audience were other famous mural painters who came to see Chagall's work, including Diego Rivera and José Orozco. According to Baal-Teshuva, when the final bar of music ended, "there was a tumultuous applause and 19 curtain calls, with Chagall himself being called back onto the stage again and again." The ballet also opened in New York City four weeks later at the Metropolitan Opera and the response was repeated, "again Chagall was the hero of the evening".:158 Art critic Edwin Denby wrote of the opening for the New York Herald Tribune that Chagall's work: has turned into a dramatized exhibition of giant paintings... It surpasses anything Chagall has done on the easel scale, and it is a breathtaking experience, of a kind one hardly expects in the theatre.

Coming to grips with World War II
After Chagall returned to New York in 1943, however, current events began to interest him more, and this was represented by his art, where he painted subjects including the Crucifixion and scenes of war. He learned that the Germans had destroyed the town where he was raised, Vitebsk, and became greatly distressed.:159 He also learned about the Nazi concentration camps. During a speech in February 1944, he described some of his feelings: Meanwhile, the enemy jokes, saying that we are a "stupid nation." He thought that when he started slaughtering the Jews, we would all in our grief suddenly raise the greatest prophetic scream, and would be joined by the Christian humanists. But, after two thousand years of "Christianity" in the world—say whatever you like—but, with few exceptions, their hearts are silent... I see the artists in Christian nations sit still—who has heard them speak up? They are not worried about themselves, and our Jewish life doesn't concern them.

In the same speech he credited Soviet Russia with doing the most to save the Jews: The Jews will always be grateful to it. What other great country has saved a million and a half Jews from Hitler's hands, and shared its last piece of bread? What country abolished antisemitism? What other country devoted at least a piece of land as an autonomous region for Jews who want to live there? All this, and more, weighs heavily on the scales of history.

On 2 September 1944, Bella died suddenly due to a virus infection, which was not treated due to the wartime shortage of medicine. As a result, he stopped all work for many months, and when he did resume painting his first pictures were concerned with preserving Bella's memory. Wullschlager writes of the effect on Chagall: "As news poured in through 1945 of the ongoing Holocaust at Nazi concentration camps, Bella took her place in Chagall's mind with the millions of Jewish victims." He even considered the possibility that their "exile from Europe had sapped her will to live."

With Virginia Haggard McNeil
After a year of living with his daughter Ida and her husband Michel Gordey, he entered into a romance with Virginia Haggard, daughter of diplomat Sir Godfrey Digby Napier Haggard and great-niece of the author Sir Henry Rider Haggard; their relationship endured seven years. They had a child together, David McNeil, born 22 June 1946. Haggard recalled her "seven years of plenty" with Chagall in her book, My Life with Chagall (Robert Hale, 1986).
A few months after the Allies succeeded in liberating Paris from Nazi occupation, with the help of the Allied armies, Chagall published a letter in a Paris weekly, "To the Paris Artists": In recent years I have felt unhappy that I couldn't be with you, my friends. My enemy forced me to take the road of exile. On that tragic road, I lost my wife, the companion of my life, the woman who was my inspiration. I want to say to my friends in France that she joins me in this greeting, she who loved France and French art so faithfully. Her last joy was the liberation of Paris... Now, when Paris is liberated, when the art of France is resurrected, the whole world too will, once and for all, be free of the satanic enemies who wanted to annihilate not just the body but also the soul—the soul, without which there is no life, no artistic creativity.

Post-war years
By 1946, his artwork was becoming more widely recognized. The Museum of Modern Art in New York had a large exhibition representing 40 years of Marc Chagall artwork which gave visitors one of the first complete impressions of the changing nature of his art over the years. The war had ended and he began making plans to return to Paris. According to Cogniat, "He found he was even more deeply attached than before, not only to the atmosphere of Paris, but to the city itself, to its houses and its views." Chagall summed up his years living in America: I lived here in America during the inhuman war in which humanity deserted itself... I have seen the rhythm of life. I have seen America fighting with Allies... the wealth that she has distributed to bring relief to the people who had to suffer the consequences of the war... I like America and the Americans... people there are frank. It is a young country with the qualities and faults of youth. It is a delight to love people like that... Above all I am impressed by the greatness of this country and the freedom that it gives.

He went back for good during the autumn of 1947, where he attended the opening of the exhibition of Marc Chagall works at the Musée National d'Art Moderne.

France (1948–1985)
After returning to France he traveled throughout Europe and chose to live in the Côte d'Azur which by that time had become somewhat of an "artistic centre". Matisse lived near Saint-Paul-de-Vence, about seven miles west of Nice, while Picasso lived in Vallauris. Although they lived nearby and sometimes worked together, there was artistic rivalry between them as their work was so distinctly different, and they never became long-term friends. According to Picasso's mistress, Françoise Gilot, Picasso still had a great deal of respect for Chagall, and once told her, "When Matisse dies, Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what color is... His canvases are really painted, not just tossed together. Some of the last things he's done in Vence convince me that there's never been anybody since Renoir who has the feeling for light that Chagall has."

In April 1952, Virginia Haggard left Chagall for the photographer Charles Leirens; she went on to become a professional photographer herself.

Vava Brodsky and Marc Chagall in 1967
Chagall's daughter Ida married art historian Franz Meyer in January 1952, and feeling that her father missed the companionship of a woman in his home, introduced him to Valentina (Vava) Brodsky, a woman from a similar Russian Jewish background, who had run a successful millinery business in London. She became his secretary, and after a few months agreed to stay only if Chagall married her. The marriage took place in July 1952:183—though six years later, when there was conflict between Ida and Vava, "Marc and Vava divorced and immediately remarried under an agreement more favourable to Vava" (Jean-Paul Crespelle, author of Chagall, l'Amour le Reve et la Vie, quoted in Haggard: My Life with Chagall).

In 1954, he was engaged as set decorator for Robert Helpmann's production of Rimsky-Korsakov's opera Le Coq d'Or at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, but he withdrew. The Australian designer Loudon Sainthill was drafted at short notice in his place.

In the years ahead he was able to produce not just Marc Chagall paintings and graphic art, but also numerous sculptures and ceramics, including wall tiles, painted vases, plates and jugs. He also began working in larger-scale formats, producing large murals, stained glass windows, mosaics and tapestries.

Ceiling of the Paris Opera (1963)
In 1963, Chagall was commissioned to paint the new ceiling for the Paris Opera (Palais Garnier), a majestic 19th-century building and national monument. André Malraux, France's Minister of Culture wanted something unique and decided Chagall would be the ideal artist. However, this choice of artist caused controversy: some objected to having a Russian Jew decorate a French national monument; others disliked the ceiling of the historic building being painted by a modern artist. Some magazines wrote condescending articles about Chagall and Malraux, about which Chagall commented to one writer: They really had it in for me... It is amazing the way the French resent foreigners. You live here most of your life. You become a naturalized French citizen... work for nothing decorating their cathedrals, and still they despise you. You are not one of them.

Nonetheless, Chagall continued the project which took the 77-year-old artist a year to complete. The final canvas was nearly 2,400 square feet (220 sq. meters) and required 440 pounds (200 kg) of paint. It had five sections which were glued to polyester panels and hoisted up to the 70-foot (21 m) ceiling. The images Chagall painted on the canvas paid tribute to the composers Mozart, Wagner, Mussorgsky, Berlioz and Ravel, as well as to famous actors and dancers.

It was presented to the public on 23 September 1964 in the presence of Malraux and 2,100 invited guests. The Paris correspondent for the New York Times wrote, "For once the best seats were in the uppermost circle:":199 Baal-Teshuva writes: To begin with, the big crystal chandelier hanging from the centre of the ceiling was unlit... the entire corps de ballet came onto the stage, after which, in Chagall's honour, the opera's orchestra played the finale of the "Jupiter Symphony" by Mozart, Chagall's favorite composer. During the last bars of the music, the chandelier lit up, bringing the artist's ceiling painting to life in all its glory, drawing rapturous applause from the audience.

After the new ceiling was unveiled, "even the bitterest opponents of the commission seemed to fall silent", writes Baal-Teshuva. "Unanimously, the press declared Chagall's new work to be a great contribution to French culture." Malraux later said, "What other living artist could have painted the ceiling of the Paris Opera in the way Chagall did?... He is above all one of the great colourists of our time... many of his canvases and the Opera ceiling represent sublime images that rank among the finest poetry of our time, just as Titian produced the finest poetry of his day."

Marc Chagall Art styles and techniques
Color
According to Cogniat, in all Chagall's work during all stages of his life, it was his colors which attracted and captured the viewer's attention. During his earlier years his range was limited by his emphasis on form and his pictures never gave the impression of painted drawings. He adds, "The colors are a living, integral part of the picture and are never passively flat, or banal like an afterthought. They sculpt and animate the volume of the shapes... they indulge in flights of fancy and invention which add new perspectives and graduated, blended tones... His colors do not even attempt to imitate nature but rather to suggest movements, planes and rhythms."

He was able to convey striking images using only two or three colors. Cogniat writes, "Chagall is unrivalled in this ability to give a vivid impression of explosive movement with the simplest use of colors..." Throughout his life his colors created a "vibrant atmosphere" which was based on "his own personal vision."

Marc Chagall paintings would later sell for very great prices. In October 2010, for example, his painting Bestiaire et Musique, depicting a bride and a fiddler floating in a night sky amid circus performers and animals, "was the star lot" at an auction in Hong Kong. When it sold for $4.1 million, it became the most expensive contemporary Western painting ever sold in Asia.

Subject matter
Chagall's early life left him with a "powerful visual memory and a pictorial intelligence", writes Goodman. After living in France and experiencing the atmosphere of artistic freedom, his "vision soared and he created a new reality, one that drew on both his inner and outer worlds." But it was the images and memories of his early years in Belarus that would sustain his art for more than 70 years.

According to Cogniat, there are certain elements in his art that have remained permanent and seen throughout his career. One of those was his choice of subjects and the way they were portrayed. "The most obviously constant element is his gift for happiness and his instinctive compassion, which even in the most serious subjects prevents him from dramatization...":89 Musicians have been a constant during all stages of Marc Chagall artwork. After he first got married, "lovers have sought each other, embraced, caressed, floated through the air, met in wreaths of flowers, stretched, and swooped like the melodious passage of their vivid day-dreams. Acrobats contort themselves with the grace of exotic flowers on the end of their stems; flowers and foliage abound everywhere." Wullschlager explains the sources for these images: For him, clowns and acrobats always resembled figures in religious Marc Chagall paintings... The evolution of the circus works... reflects a gradual clouding of his worldview, and the circus performers now gave way to the prophet or sage in Marc Chagall work—a figure into whom Chagall poured his anxiety as Europe darkened, and he could no longer rely on the lumiére-liberté of France for inspiration.

Chagall described his love of circus people: Why am I so touched by their makeup and grimaces? With them I can move toward new horizons... Chaplin seeks to do in film what I am trying to do in Marc Chagall paintings. He is perhaps the only artist today I could get along with without having to say a single word.

His early pictures were often of the town where he was born and raised, Vitebsk. Cogniat notes that they are realistic and give the impression of firsthand experience by capturing a moment in time with action, often with a dramatic image. During his later years, as for instance in the "Bible series", subjects were more dramatic. He managed to blend the real with the fantastic, and combined with his use of color the pictures were always at least acceptable if not powerful. He never attempted to present pure reality but always created his atmospheres through fantasy.:91 In all cases Chagall's "most persistent subject is life itself, in its simplicity or its hidden complexity... He presents for our study places, people, and objects from his own life".

Jewish themes
After absorbing the techniques of Fauvism and Cubism (under the influence of Jean Metzinger and Albert Gleizes) Chagall was able to blend these stylistic tendencies with his own folkish style. He gave the grim life of Hasidic Jews the "romantic overtones of a charmed world", notes Goodman. It was by combining the aspects of Modernism with his "unique artistic language", that he was able to catch the attention of critics and collectors throughout Europe. Generally, it was his boyhood of living in a Belarusian provincial town that gave him a continual source of imaginative stimuli. Chagall would become one of many Jewish émigrés who later became noted artists, all of them similarly having once been part of "Russia's most numerous and creative minorities", notes Goodman.

World War I, which ended in 1918, had displaced nearly a million Jews and destroyed what remained of the provincial shtetl culture that had defined life for most Eastern European Jews for centuries. Goodman notes, "The fading of traditional Jewish society left artists like Chagall with powerful memories that could no longer be fed by a tangible reality. Instead, that culture became an emotional and intellectual source that existed solely in memory and the imagination... So rich had the experience been, it sustained him for the rest of his life.":15 Sweeney adds that "if you ask Chagall to explain Marc Chagall paintings, he would reply, 'I don't understand them at all. They are not literature. They are only pictorial arrangements of images that obsess me..."

In 1948, after returning to France from the U.S. after the war, he saw for himself the destruction that the war had brought to Europe and the Jewish populations. In 1951, as part of a memorial book dedicated to eighty-four Jewish artists who were killed by the Nazis in France, he wrote a poem entitled "For the Slaughtered Artists: 1950", which inspired paintings such as the Song of David (see photo): I see the fire, the smoke and the gas; rising to the blue cloud, turning it black. I see the torn-out hair, the pulled-out teeth. They overwhelm me with my rabid palette. I stand in the desert before heaps of boots, clothing, ash and dung, and mumble my Kaddish. And as I stand—from Marc Chagall paintings, the painted David descends to me, harp in hand. He wants to help me weep and recite chapters of Psalms.

Lewis writes that Chagall "remains the most important visual artist to have borne witness to the world of East European Jewry... and inadvertently became the public witness of a now vanished civilization." Although Judaism has religious inhibitions about pictorial art of many religious subjects, Chagall managed to use his fantasy images as a form of visual metaphor combined with folk imagery. His "Fiddler on the Roof", for example, combines a folksy village setting with a fiddler as a way to show the Jewish love of music as important to the Jewish spirit.

Music played an important role in shaping the subjects of Marc Chagall artwork. While he later came to love the music of Bach and Mozart, during his youth he was mostly influenced by the music within the the Hasidic community where he was raised. Art historian Franz Meyer points out that one of the main reasons for the unconventional nature of his work is related to the hassidism which inspired the world of his childhood and youth and had actually impressed itself on most Eastern European Jews since the 18th century. He writes, "For Chagall this is one of the deepest sources, not of inspiration, but of a certain spiritual attitude... the hassidic spirit is still the basis and source of nourishment of his art.":24 In a talk that Chagall gave in 1963 while visiting America, he discussed some of those impressions.

However, Chagall had a complex relationship with Judaism. On the one hand, he credited his Russian Jewish cultural background as being crucial to his artistic imagination. But however ambivalent he was about his religion, he could not avoid drawing upon his Jewish past for artistic material. As an adult, he was not a practicing Jew, but through Marc Chagall paintings and stained glass, he continually tried to suggest a more "universal message", using both Jewish and Christian themes.

For about two thousand years a reserve of energy has fed and supported us, and filled our lives, but during the last century a split has opened in this reserve, and its components have begun to disintegrate: God, perspective, colour, the Bible, shape, line, traditions, the so-called humanities, love, devotion, family, school, education, the prophets and Christ himself. Have I too, perhaps, doubted in my time? I painted pictures upside down, decapitated people and dissected them, scattering the pieces in the air, all in the name of another perspective, another kind of picture composition and another formalism.:29

He was also at pains to distance Marc Chagall work from a single Jewish focus. At the opening of The Chagall Museum in Nice he said ' Marc Chagall painting represents not the dream of one people but of all humanity'.

Final years and death
Author Serena Davies writes that "By the time he died in France in 1985—the last surviving master of European modernism, outliving Joan Miró by two years—he had experienced at first hand the high hopes and crushing disappointments of the Russian revolution, and had witnessed the end of the Pale of Settlement, the near annihilation of European Jewry, and the obliteration of Vitebsk, his home town, where only 118 of a population of 240,000 survived the Second World War."

Chagall's final work was a commissioned piece of art for the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. The maquette painting titled Job had been completed, but Chagall died just before the completion of the tapestry. Yavett Cauquil Pierce was weaving the tapestry under Chagall's supervision and was the last person to work with Chagall. She left Vava and Marc Chagall's home at 4 pm on 28 March after discussing and matching the final colors from the maquette painting for the tapestry. He died that evening.

His relationship with his Jewish identity was "unresolved and tragic", Davies states. He would have died without Jewish rites, had not a Jewish stranger stepped forward and said the kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, over his coffin. Chagall is buried alongside his last wife Valentina "Vava" Brodsky Chagall, in the multi-denominational cemetery in the traditional artists' town of Saint Paul de Vence, in the French region of Provence.

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