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Marc Chagall Poster

Biography

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Overview (2)

Date of Birth 7 July 1887Liozno, Vitebsk Governorate, Russian Empire [now Liozna, Vitebsk Oblast, Belarus]
Date of Death 28 March 1985Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Alpes-Maritimes, France

Mini Bio (1)

Marc Chagall was a Russian-Jewish artist and writer in Yiddish who moved to France and developed his highly original style by blending elements of traditional Jewish culture with cutting-edge innovations in modern art.

He was born Moishe Segal (Russified: Marc Zakharovich Shagalov) on July 7, 1887, in Liozno, a suburb of Vitebsk, Russia (now in Belarus). He was the first-born of nine children in the traditional close-knit Russian-Jewish family. Chagall's father and mother were cousins. His father, Khatskel Segal, was a herring merchant. His mother, Feiga-Ita, was a housewife. Chagall studied Torah and Talmud in Hebrew with Rabbi Ochre, and then with Rabbi Jatkin for basic education at home. At that time Jews were not admitted to schools in Russia, but Chagall's parents managed to get him admitted by bribing a school principal. Chagall's favorite classes were drawing and geometry.

Young Chagall made his first artwork for the Haggadah for his family on Passover. Then he did a copy of the portrait of composer Anton Rubinstein from the magazine "Niva". His first job was as a photo-retoucher at the photo studio of Meshchaninov in Vitebsk. Chagall briefly studied in the cheder of the Zarechenskaya synagogue, the biggest temple in Vitebsk. There he also sang as a cantor's assistant and studied violin. He later took painting lessons from Yehuda Pen in Vitebsk for two months. In 1907 Chagall went to St. Petersburg. There he studied art under Nikolai Roerich at the Imperial Society of Art Supporters; then under Leon Bakst and Mstislav Doboujinsky at Zviagintseva School of Art.

From 1910-1914 he lived in Paris on a stipend of 125 francs a month from a notable Russian-Jewish lawyer, Maxim Vinaver. Chagall settled in the Montparnasse community of La Ruche. There he associated with Guillaume Apollinaire, M. Jakob, A. Salmon, Robert Delaunay, Fernand Léger and others. During those four years in Paris he witnessed the emerging new styles of Fauvism, Cubism, Surrealism and various avant-garde currents being created by Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Amedeo Modigliani and Giorgio De Chirico, as well as other leading artists of the time. In May of 1914 Chagall went to Germany. There he became acquainted with the artistic experiments of Wassily Kandinsky. Chagall had his first solo show at the Sturm gallery in Berlin. Then, after the onset of World War I, he went back to Russia.

In May of 1915 Chagall married his first love, Bella Rosenfeld, the daughter of a wealthy jeweler in Vitebsk. She was the inspirational model for his famous series of paintings with passionate flying figures. In 1916 the Chagalls had a daughter, Ida. At that time he created his most vibrant and youthful paintings depicting his wife Bella flying with him in the skies above their hometown of Vitebsk.

Chagall was appointed the Commissar of Arts in Vitebsk Province after the Russian Revolution of 1917. He organized the new Vitebsk Art School and also taught there. He moved to Moscow in 1920. There he took an active part in the stage productions of the newly formed Moscow Jewish Theatre, of which he was the Art Director from 1920-1922. Chagall designed the stage decoration for the production of "Fiddler on the Roof", based on the story by Sholom Aleichem. Chagall's work was marked by surrealistic inventiveness and continued his emergence as a cross-cultural artist.

In 1922 the Chagalls fled the troubled Russia and moved to Berlin, then to Paris in 1923, as did many Russian intellectuals. He published his book of memoirs with illustrations in 1923. Then he made illustrations for "Dead Souls" by Nikolai Gogol, and began illustrating the Bible in 1930. In 1937 Chagall became a naturalized French citizen. In 1941, however, the Chagalls fled the German occupation of Paris and lived in New York until 1947. There Chagall designed decorations for the production of "Firebird" with the music of Igor Stravinsky and choreography by George Balanchine. Chagall also made a stage set for "Aleko" with the music of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. In September of 1944 his beloved wife and inspirational muse Bella died.

Back in Europe, Chagall settled in Provence, France. His creativity was now inspired by his new love, Valentina (Vava) Brodsky, whom he married in 1952. His works during this period are marked with energetic and joyful feelings, expressed by vibrant lines and vivid colors. He expanded his creativity into sculpture, ceramics and stained glass, making stained glass windows for several Catholic and Protestant cathedrals in France, Switzerland and Germany. In 1960 Chagall created remarkable stained glass windows for the Synagogue of the Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in Jerusalem. In the 1960s and 1970s he decorated the new Parliament in Jerusalem, the ceiling of the Grand Opera in Paris, the lobby of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York and the National Bank Building in Chicago with a series of large-scale mosaic murals that define the language of 20th-century monumental art.

Mark Chagall died at the age of 97, on March 28, 1985, in Saint-Paul de Vence, France, and was laid to rest in Saint-Paul Town Cemetery, Provence, France.

Chagall's art is the pride of museum collections across the world. In 1973, the Musee National Message Biblique Marc Chagall (The Chagall Museum) opened in Nice, France. The Chagall family home on Pokrovskaia street in Vitebsk was turned into a memorial museum in 1992 and decorated with copies of his works in 1997.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Steve Shelokhonov

Spouse (2)

Valentine Brodsky (12 July 1951 - 28 March 1985) (his death)
Bella Rosenfeld (25 July 1915 - 2 September 1944) (her death) (1 child)

Trivia (5)

Daughter Ida born 1916.
Became friends with musician Jon Anderson in the 1980s. Jon composed a double album about Chagall's life and artwork. The album is yet to be released.
Father of composer, actor and director David McNeil.
Chagall's painting, "La Mariee", is given to Hugh Grant as a present by Julia Roberts in Notting Hill (1999). It was also obliquely referenced by Steve Martin in Roxanne (1987), when he compares himself to the "blue man" in the balcony scene.
Distant cousin of Rachel Chagall.

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