Marc Chagall

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Chagall, Marc

(märk shəgäl`), 1887–1985, Russian painter. In 1907, Chagall left his native Vitebsk for St. Petersburg, where he studied under L. N. BakstBakst, Lev Nikolayevich
, 1868–1924, Russian scene designer and painter. His original, imaginative style and brilliant color exerted a wide influence on costume, stage setting, and the decorative arts.
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. In Paris (1910) he began to assimilate cubist characteristics into his expressionistic style in such paintings as Half-Past Three (The Poet) (1911; Philadelphia Mus. of Art). Encouraged by Bolshevik proclamations forbidding anti-Semitism and making Jews citizens, Chagall returned to Russia where he founded and became head of Vitebsk's People's Art College. There he quarreled over curriculum with Constructivists, and when Russia's persecution of Jews began again, he returned (1923) to France, where he spent most of his life (he also lived in New York).

Much of Chagall's work is rendered with an extraordinary formal inventiveness and a deceptive fairy-tale naïveté, and he is considered a forerunner of surrealismsurrealism
, literary and art movement influenced by Freudianism and dedicated to the expression of imagination as revealed in dreams, free of the conscious control of reason and free of convention.
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. His frequently repeated subject matter was drawn from Russian Jewish life and folklore; he was particularly fond of flower and animal symbols. His major early works included murals for the Jewish State Theater (now in the Tretyakov Mus., Moscow). Among his other well-known works are I and the Village (1911; Mus. of Modern Art, New York City) and The Rabbi of Vitebsk (Art Inst., Chicago). Chagall's twelve stained-glass windows, symbolizing the tribes of Israel, were exhibited in Paris and New York City before being installed (1962) in the Hadassah-Hebrew Univ. Medical Center synagogue in Jerusalem. His two vast murals for New York's Metropolitan Opera House, treating symbolically the sources and the triumph of music, were installed in 1966.

Chagall also designed the sets and costumes for Stravinsky's ballet Firebird (1945), and illustrated numerous books, including Gogol's Dead Souls, La Fontaine's Fables, and Illustrations for the Bible (1956). A museum of his work opened in Nice in 1973. His name is also spelled Shagall.


See his autobiography (1931, tr. 1989); biographies by J.-P. Crespelle (1970), S. Alexander (1978), H. Keller (1979), and J. Wullschlager (2008); studies by F. Meyer (tr. 1964), J. J. Sweeney (1946, repr. 1970), W. Haftmann (1974), and J. Wilson (2007).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Chagall, Marc


Born July 7, 1887, in Liozno, near Vitebsk. French painter and graphic artist.

Chagall studied in St. Petersburg from 1907 to 1909 with L. Bakst and others. From 1910 to 1914 he lived in Paris, where he was influenced by cubism. In 1914 he returned to Russia, where he directed the Art School in Vitebsk (from 1917) and participated in the work of the College of Fine Arts. In 1922 he emigrated, settling first in Berlin and then in Paris.

Chagall is one of the most outstanding representatives of modernism. His works are characterized by a keenly subjective perception of reality, reflecting the spiritual crisis of the intelligentsia in the West. The inspiration for most of his works has been his Jewish childhood in a small village, scenes from which he interprets in a symbolic and mystical spirit. Chagall is known for an analogous arrangement of objects in unreal space, linear sketchiness and vagueness, and fantastic and vivid color. Characteristic works are I and My Village (1911, Museum of Modern Art, New York) and Over Vitebsk (1914, private collection, Toronto). Chagall illustrated N. V. Gogol’s Dead Souls (etching, 1923–27) and the Bible (lithograph, 1931–36). He has painted a number of decorative works, including a mural for the Kamernyi Jewish Theater in Moscow (1920, Tret’iakov Gallery, Moscow), the sets for G. Balanchine’s production of I. Stravinsky’s ballet The Firebird (1944–45), and sketches for stained-glass windows for the cathedral in Metz (1958). In 1973, in connection with an exhibit of his lithographs, Chagall visted the USSR.


Ma vie. Paris, 1931.


Efros, A., and Ia. Tugendkhol’d. Iskusstvo Marka Shagala. Moscow, 1918.
Lunacharskii, A. V. “Mark Shagal.” In his book Ob izobrazitel’nom iskusstve, vol. 1. Moscow, 1961.
Meyer, F. Marc Chagall. Cologne, 1961.
Cassou, J. Chagall. Munich-Zurich, 1966.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
(3) 'Fake 100,000 [pounds sterling] Marc Chagall Painting "To be Destroyed'", BBC News, 2 Feb.
While the exhibit includes many noteworthy pieces, Walsh remarks that there are two exceptional pieces that deserve special attention: "Le Christ au Village" by Marc Chagall and "Le Danseur (Tete d'Histrion)" by Pablo Picasso.
ART-LOVERS will get the chance to own work by a leading 20th-Century artist when a Northumberland gallery showcases prints by Marc Chagall. Artist: Franz Marc Reproduction of painting by influential German Expressionist (1880-1916) ESTIMATED VALUE PS25M Artist: Otto Dix Newly discovered self-portrait of German artist Otto Dix (1891-1969) found in Nazi haul ESTIMATED VALUE PS20M Artist: Antonio Canaletto View of painting by Italian master artist Antonio Canaletto (1697-1768) beamed on to a wall ESTIMATED VALUE PS6M Artist: Carl Spitzweg Lesser-known picture by German artist Carl Spitzweg (1808-1885) Pair Making Music ESTIMATED VALUE PS3M Artist: Marc Chagall Reproduction of a masterwork by Belarus-born French artist Marc Chagall taken by Nazis ESTIMATED VALUE PS5M Artist: Henri Matisse Picture believed to be by French painter Henri Matisse shown during a press conference ESTIMATED VALUE PS20M
Martin Lang bought what he thought was an original work by Russian artist Marc Chagall in 1992 for PS100,000 and more than 20 years later his son called in BBC1's Fake Or Fortune to examine it.
German recluse Cornelius Gurlitt, 80, had more than 1400 artworks - including paintings by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Marc Chagall - taken from his flat in Munich following a tax inspection.
A HOARD of art found in Germany last year, some of which was apparently seized by the Nazis, included works ranging from Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Max Liebermann and others dating back to the 16th century.
O'Hara Catholic School fourth-grader Justice Travers (above) brings Marc Chagall's painting "The Green Violinist" to life on Tuesday in a "living art museum" at the school?in Eugene.
of Oxford) critically explores how Marc Chagall (1887-1985), Philip Guston (1913-80), and R.
In addition, the exhibition will include important works by 20th-century masters Salvador Dali, Joan Miro, Marc Chagall and Henri Matisse.
Marc Chagall was a Russian-French artist, born in Vitebsk, Russia in 1887, as a son of Hasidic Jewish parents and the eldest in a family of nine children.