Marc Chagall

Birds and fish on a blue background 74x53 cm, lithograph

Marc Chagall (1887-1985) – one of the greatest representatives of the avant-garde of the XX century. Painter, graphic artist, set designer.

He was born in the town of Lioznov near Vitebsk or (according to other sources) in Vitebsk itself, in the strip of Jewish settlement of the Russian Empire. He was the eldest of nine children in a poor family. From 1900 to 1905 M. Chagall studied at the city school. In 1906 he entered the Vitebsk School of Drawing and Painting of the famous artist Yu. Pen. From his first teacher, M. Chagall adopted the idea of ​​a national artist.

In 1907 the future artist left for St. Petersburg. For two seasons he studied at the Art School of the Imperial Society for the Promotion of the Arts, headed by M. Roerich. In 1910-1911 M. Chagall studied at the art school of E. Zvantseva. His teachers were L. Bakst and M. Dobuzhinsky. During this period, the artist created paintings that brought him popularity – “Funeral” and “Birth”.

In the early works of M. Chagall depicted Vitebsk with its streets, squares, houses (“Dead”, 1908, Pompidou Center, Paris). The landscapes and scenes from life had grotesque features, reminiscent of theatrical mise-en-scène. Well-known Russian lawyer and public figure M. Winaver purchased the artist’s works and gave him a scholarship for further study in Paris.

In 1911, M. Chagall went to Paris, where he rented a workshop in the famous art colony “La Ruche” (“Beehive”) in Montparnasse. He quickly entered the circle of the Parisian literary and artistic avant-garde: he met A. Modigliani, O. Tsadkin, X. Sutin, G. Apollinaire, M. Jacob, B. Sandrar, and others.

In 1911-1913 his works were exhibited in the “Autumn Salon” and “Salon of Independents” in Paris. M. Chagall also took part in exhibitions of Russian art associations (World of Art, 1912, St. Petersburg; Penguin’s Tail, 1912, Moscow; Target, 1913, Moscow). In May 1914, the Der Sturm Gallery in Berlin hosted the artist’s first solo exhibition. After its opening, M. Chagall went to Russia, to his native Vitebsk.

The events of the First World War did not allow the artist to return to Paris until 1922. All this time he was engaged in painting, maintained relations with artists and poets, participated in exhibitions (“Jack of Diamonds”, 1916, Moscow; “Spring Exhibition of Contemporary Russian Painting”, 1916 , St. Petersburg; “Exhibition of the Jewish Society for the Promotion of the Arts”, 1916, Moscow).

After the revolution, M. Chagall was sent to the Vitebsk province as an authorized commissioner for arts. Returning to his hometown, in 1918-1919 he organized a folk art school. In 1920 the artist and his family left for Moscow. In Moscow, on the recommendation of A. Efros, he got a job at the Jewish Chamber Theater. In 1921, M. Chagall taught painting at a Jewish orphanage in Malakhovka, not far from Moscow.

Cubism, futurism and the very atmosphere of the Parisian period, of course, influenced the artist’s work. Then the basic principles of M. Chagall’s art were formed, symbolic types and characters were determined.

In 1922, together with M. Chagall’s family, he went first to Lithuania – to the city of Kaunas, where his exhibition was held, and then to Germany. Here he met the owner of the art gallery and publisher P. Cassirer, who decided to publish the artist’s memoirs, illustrated by the author.

Due to delays in the translation into German in 1923, P. Cassirer published only illustrations in the form of a separate album. The artist’s autobiographical novel “My Life”, translated by White Chagall into French, was published in full in 1931 by the Paris publishing house “Stoke”.

In the autumn of 1923, at the invitation of A. Vollard, a patron and publisher, the artist’s family moved to Paris. M. Chagall became acquainted with many avant-garde poets and artists: P. Eluard, A. Malraux, M. Ernst, and others.

At the request of A. Vollard, M. Chagall began working on a series of illustrations to the Bible (later 39 gouache were created). In this regard, the artist in 1931 went to the Middle East, visited Eretz Israel and Egypt. He continued to paint, wrote many full-scale sketches. In the 1920s and 1930s, the artist held solo exhibitions, traveling to cities in Europe and the United States.

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