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Marc Chagall


Marc Chagall, USSR Artist.


Chagall, Marc was born on July 7, 1896 in Vitebsk into a large, working class, Hasidic family.


In 1907 moved to Petersburg with no money, no job and no residence permit. Became a sign writer for small businesses. Entered Leon Bakst’s art school.

In 1910 went to Paris where he lived in a community of then unknown artists such as Leger, Soutine and Modigliani. Met and befriended Guillaume Apollinaire and Blaise Cendrars. Influenced by cubism.

Returned to Russia in 1914. Married a Jewish girl. After the October Revolution 1917 and the Civil War, appointed Commissar of Fine Arts in his native Vitebsk where he founded an art academy, but he resigned after conflict with the Soviet authorities and his colleague Malevich.

Went to Moscow, and worked as a stage designer. Also ran an art school for a short time. Left the Soviet Union in 1922 for Berlin, and in 1923 went to Paris.

Although influenced by many trends such as surrealism, impressionism and cubism, retained his own original and very personal style. In 1941, the Museum of Modern Art in New York invited him to America. In 1946, returned to France and lived there near St. Paul-de-Vence until his death in March 1985.

His early work (Birthday, 1915, The Violinist, 1911, Visit to the Grandparents, 1915) reflects his background well. In 1961, completed a series of stained glass windows of the Twelve Tribes of Israel for a synagogue near Jerusalem. Also made mosaics and tapestry for the Knesset in 1966.

Produced designs for the Metropolitan Opera in New York, 1966 after the success of his ceiling for the Paris Opera in 1964, his stained glass windows at Tudeley in Kent, 1967, and Chichester Cathedral, 1978. Over 500,000 Soviet art lovers visited his posthumous exhibition in October 1987 at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow. (He had already staged a smaller one in the Soviet Union in 1973).

The October exhibition was attended by the artist’s widow, Valentina, who had helped to organize it.