Getting to Know Marc Chagall
For this Art Wednesday we’ll look at the life and work of the Belarus-born modernist painter, drawer, sculptor, ceramicist, weaver, and stained-glass maker, Marc Chagall (1887-1985).
Marc Chagall portrait from the 1920's
Chagall essentially invented his own style. He borrowed from modern art, Eastern European art, and Jewish folk art to earn the reputation as a leader in modernism and also a preeminent Jewish artist.
Marc Chagall, I and the Village, 1911
Other artists respected Chagall for his adaptations of Cubism, Fauvism, and Surrealism. In the 1950’s, Pablo Picasso said, “When Matisse dies, Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what color really is.”
Chagall, The Fiddler, 1912–1913
Chagall grew up the oldest of nine children in an Hassidic Jewish community in Belarus. His mother was a grocer and his father sold fish. Fishing and lakes are recurring themes in much of his work.
Chagall, Calvary (Golgotha), 1912
At 19, Chagall moved to St. Petersburg, the capital of Russia, borrowing a friend’s passport since Jews were not allowed in the city without an international passport. There he enrolled in art school.
Chagall, Stained Glass in Reims Cathedral, 1974
Chagall moved to Paris in 1910 to study and paint. He loved the city and the Impressionists, and began to borrow some of their techniques as he worked to paint pictures of his home. He said, “My homeland exists only in my soul.”
Chagall, The Circus, 1964
Chagall painted a lot of Biblical themes. He said, “I did not see the Bible, I dreamed it. Ever since early childhood…it has always seemed to me and still seems the greatest source of poetry of all time.”