Marc Chagall

BIOGRAPHY

French-Russian artist whose work anticipated the dream-like imagery of Surrealism. Over the course of his career Chagall developed the poetic, amorphous, and deeply personal visual language evident in the painting I and the Village (1911). “When I am finishing a picture, I hold some God-made object up to it—a rock, a flower, the branch of a tree or my hand as a final test,” he said. “If the painting stands up beside a thing man cannot make, the painting is authentic. If there’s a clash between the two, it’s bad art.” Born Moishe Shagal on July 7, 1887 in Vitebsk, Russia (present-day Belarus) to a Hasidic Jewish family, the artist was raised immersed in Jewish culture and iconography. Studying under the artist Yehuda Pen as a youth, the Judaic traditions and folklore of his hometown permeated Chagall’s paintings. After studying in St. Petersburg, the artist moved to Paris in 1910, where he quickly befriended members of the French avant-garde, including Robert Delaunay and Fernand Léger. Visiting Russia in 1914, the artist was prevented from returning to Paris due to the outbreak of World War I until 1926. In addition to his paintings, Chagall was also noted for his vibrant works in stained glass and lithography. Forced to flee Paris during World War II, Chagall lived in the United States and traveled through to Israel before returning to France in 1948. The artist died in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France on March 28, 1985. Today, his works are held in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Gallery in London, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, and the Albertina in Vienna, among others.