Marc Zakharovich Chagall was one of the most famous avant-garde artists, whose merits received worldwide recognition during his lifetime. Marc Chagall is a great colorist, a master of improvisation. He laid the foundation for a whole direction of painting of the XX century – surrealism. Chagall left behind a rich legacy, which includes many paintings and graphic works, scenographic and literary works.
Biography of Marc Chagall
Mark Zakharovich Chagall (real name Movsha Khatskelevich) was born on July 7, 1887 in the town of Liozno, 40 km from Vitebsk. The area was in the Jewish Pale of Settlement, established by Catherine II for the compact residence of the nation. The birth of the baby followed almost immediately after the artist’s mother Feige-Ite was rescued from a burning building – on that day a large-scale fire broke out in the city. Mark was born lifeless, in order to bring the child back to life, the midwife had to prick him with needles and dip him in water.
Marc Chagall realized early on that he wanted to become an artist, and immediately announced this to his parents. The father did not like his son’s decision, but, nevertheless, he paid for the boy’s classes in the studio of the local painter of Jewish origin, Yehuda Pan. Despite the resistance of his parents, in 1910 the artist moved to St. Petersburg, where he began to study at the school of painting under the guidance of Nicholas Roerich.
During this period, the young master was criticized a lot, which led to a creative crisis.
In 1909, Mark returned to Vitebsk, where his acquaintance with his future wife Bella brought freshness back to his works. In 1910, Chagall was in Paris for the first time, money for the trip was given by his patrons. Under the influence of new trends in art, the artist became interested in cubism, but his works were distinguished by freshness and originality. Guillaume Apollinaire first defined Chagall’s style, calling his works surnaturel and then surreal.
Already a citizen of France, the artist came to Vitebsk in 1914 to visit his sister and stayed in his homeland for eight whole years, experienced a brief passion for the ideas of the revolution, and even worked as an art commissioner. However, by 1920 the Soviet government had ceased to approve of avant-garde painting, and Chagall was hardly able to travel abroad. He left Russia with his wife Bella and little daughter Ida.
Having moved to Paris, the artist became truly financially independent for the first time in his life – he made good money working on illustrations for Nikolai Gogol’s novel Dead Souls. Chagall got the opportunity to freely engage in creativity, travel, relax with his family on the Cote d’Azur. However, in 1941, during the occupation of France by the Nazi troops, Chagall was arrested, and only the intervention of the American consul saved him from being sent to a concentration camp and helped him escape persecution in the United States.
A major success overseas for the artist was his work on costumes and scenery for the ballet Aleko, staged in the New York theater by a native of Russia, Leonid Masin. Despite a rich and comfortable life, Chagall dreamed of returning to France, but the plans were disrupted by the death of his wife from a viral infection, after which the painter fell into a deep depression. He arrived in France in 1948, during which time Mark Zakharovich had already acquired a new family, although until the end of his life he considered only his first wife to be his muse.
last years of life
After 1950, the artist became interested in engravings, graphics, sculpture, stained-glass windows, and created a series of illustrations on Old Testament subjects. Chagall continued to work on the painting “The Bible Message” until the early 1970s. The paintings of this cycle now occupy a whole museum in Nice. The artist’s work gained worldwide fame, the author’s exhibition was held even in the Soviet Union, where Mark Zakharovich came in 1972 at the invitation of the Ministry of Culture.
Until the last days, the creations of an already elderly artist were imbued with an amazing joy of existence, optimism and freedom of spirit. Even in his advanced years, he continued to work fruitfully, and his paintings were exhibited in the Louvre during his lifetime. On March 28, 1985, after a day of work in the studio, the 97-year-old painter died quietly in his bed.
Under the influence of cubism, the artist painted a whole series of works, where geometric shapes serve as a means to emphasize the theme of the connection between time and space, characteristic of Chagall’s work.