MARC CHAGALL (Russian/French / 1887-1985)

Marc Zakharovich Chagall was one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century. He was born Moishe Shagal in Vitebsk in what is now Belarus, but was then in the Russian Pale of Settlement in which Jews were allowed to live, in 1887. The life of Vitebsk remained the wellspring of Chagall's imagination and his art, which is suffused with his Hasidic Jewish upbringing. Many think that Chagall's etchings and lithographs of Biblical subjects are the pinnacle of his art, and they are certainly among its fullest expressions. But he brought the same playful but acute attention to many subjects: lovers, Paris, the circus. Chagall's dreamscapes often include repeated motifs, so that his entire oeuvre can almost be seen as a single work of art, endlessly explored in different media. After studying under Léon Bakst in St Petersburg, Chagall moved to Paris in 1910, where he soon formed friendships with modernist writers such as Cendrars and Apollinaire. Returning to Vitebsk in 1914 to marry his fiancée Bella, Chagall found himself trapped in Russia for the course of WWI. After the Russian Revolution, Chagall, who was already quite a well-known artist, was appointed commissar of arts for Vitebsk, where he founded the Vitebsk Arts College, hiring artists such as El Lissitzky and Kazimir Malevich to teach there. In 1923 Chagall returned to France, by way of Berlin where he had left most of his pre-war work; this was now irretrievably lost. In 1941 Chagall managed to escape from Vichy France to New York, having almost left it too late. Pierre Matisse became his dealer, and quickly established Chagall as a major artist. The Museum of Modern Art in New York gave him his first Retrospective in 1946, which was followed the next year by a similar show at the Musée Nationale d'Art Moderne in Paris. In 1947 Chagall moved back to France, settling in the Côte d'Azur near to his peers Picasso and Matisse. Picasso told Françoise Gilot, "When Matisse dies, Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what colour is." Chagall himself died in Saint-Paul-de-Vence in 1985, at the age of 97, having born witness to a century of tumultuous change.

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Selected prints by MARC CHAGALL

The candlestick, 1962
Boaz wakes up and
sees Ruth at his
feet, 1960
Vision of Paris, 1952

View all available prints by MARC CHAGALL