Mixed Media Paint: Watercolor, Pastel on Lithograph Paper

1. Marc Chagall Biography

Marc Chagall was born in 1887 to a poor Jewish family in Russia. He was the eldest of nine children. Chagall began to display his artistic talent while studying at a secular Russian school, and despite his father’s disapproval, in 1907 he began studying art with Leon Bakst in St. Petersburg. It was at this time that his distinct style that we recognize today began to emerge. As his paintings began to center on images from his childhood, the focus that would guide his artistic motivation for the rest of his life came to fruition.

In 1910, Chagall, moved to Paris for four years. It was during this period that he painted some of his most famous paintings of the Jewish village, and developed the features that became recognizable trademarks of his art. Strong and bright colors began to portray the world in a dreamlike state. Fantasy, nostalgia, and religion began to fuse together to create otherworldly images.

In 1914, before the outbreak of World War I, Chagall held a one-man show in Berlin, exhibiting work dominated by Jewish images. During the war, he resided in Russia, and in 1917, endorsing the revolution, he was appointed Commissar for Fine Arts in Vitebsk and then director of the newly established Free Academy of Art. In 1922, Chagall left Russia, settling in France one year later. He lived there permanently except for the years 1941 - 1948 when, fleeing France during World War II, he resided in the United States. Chagall's horror over the Nazi rise to power is expressed in works depicting Jewish martyrs and refugees.

In addition to images of the Jewish world, Chagall's painings are inspired by themes from the Bible. His fascination with the Bible culminated in a series of over 100 etchings illustrating the Bible, many of which incorporate elements from folklore and from religious life in Russia.
Israel, which Chagall first visited in 1931 for the opening of the Tel Aviv Art Museum, is likewise endowed with some of Chagall's work, most notably the twelve stained glass windows at Hadassah Hospital and wall decorations at the Knesset.

Chagall received many prizes and much recognition for his work. He was also one of very few artists to exhibit work at the Louvre in their lifetime.

Marc Chagall's biography “My Life”, also known as “Mein Leiben” or “Ma Vie”, was written by Chagall in Moscow between 1921 and 1922 when he was thirty-five years old. Although long out of print, it remains one of the most imaginative and beautifully told of all autobiographies. The text is accompanied by twenty-six illustrations created by the artist in the medium of dry-point etching depicting scenes and figures in Chagall’s na├»ve-realistic style. Chagall was commissioned by Paul Cassirer,an art dealer, to depict his life story through a series of etchings.

Lyrical and evocative, Marc Chagall’s biography appears to have clung to an ancient doctrine where it states that a painting, like a poem, ought to symbolize the experiences of life as well as the feelings they evoke. Chagall had dreamed of being a poet in his youth and remained a lover of poetry throughout his life. His book “My Life”, itself a lyric prose poem, is an important work in Chagall’s career. It is a wonderful exploration of his Jewish-Russian memories of his beloved village Vitebsk and of his first encounters with the avant-garde in the Paris of early twentieth century. It’s a good example of Chagall’s sensitivity and spirituality.

The illustrations in Marc Chagall’s biography “My Life” are representations of his childhood and youth in the enclosed world of the Jewish-Russian villages, in particular, the concept of family and tradition. Although autobiographical, his totally personal and inventive handling of composition and picture arrangementhas made his illustrations universal statements.

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My Marc Chagall

My Marc Chagall
Marc Chagall " Daphnis and Chloe " Click Index to see it. [downstairs]

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