Marc Chagall Russian-French, 1887-1985


Marc Chagall was a Russian-French artist, he works in several formats and techinques including painting, drawing, illustration, stained glass windows, stage sets, ceramic, tapestry and fine art print. He his also known for his monumental decor including the ceiling of the Opera Garnier in Paris, the murals of the Watergate Theater in London and the Jewish Theater of Moscow.


Chagall first initiated himself to drawing by copying book illustrations.

He attended the school of painting of Jehudo Pen in his home town of Vitebks (current Belarus) in 1906, before enrolling in the “Imperial school of Encouragement to the Arts” in Saint Petersburg. Unsatisfied of the teachings there, Chagall enters the Zvanseva School: "the most progressive art school in pre-1917 Russia", in 1908 where he studies under Leon Baskt. In 1910, a scholarship allows him to realize his dream of going to Paris. He meets Max Jacob and Guillaume Apollinaire as well as Amadeo Modigliani and Robert Delaunay.

In 1914, Chagall returns to Russia to participate in the 1917 Revolution.

As the superintendent to Fine-Arts in Vitebsk, he founds an Arts Academy that counts Lasar Lissitzky, Kasimir Malevich and Jean Pougny among its teachers. Despite his close relationship to the artists of the Russian avant-garde, Chagall soon enters in conflict with the theories of the Suprematists. He quits the academy for Moscow, before travelling through Europe. Running away from the rising antisemitism, he finds refuge in Provence from 1939 before living for New-York. He returned in Europe after the war in 1947, settling permanently in France.


Chagall defined his personal style quite quickly and never really felt the need for renewal along the course of his life. His timeless painting depicts a seductive and immediately recognizable universe, made of dreams, unrealities, and weightlessness without ever drawing towards Surrealism.


The same subjects return at a periodical pace: lovers, rabbis, clowns, acrobats, fiddlers, animals, etc. The scenes are often inspired from biblical episodes, folklore and Russian tales. Chagall is a poet, sensitive to the matters of life, hi life of course but also the world’s. His paintings, like his illustrations, stage sets, costumes, monumental compositions, stained glass windows, are all the reflection of both the everyday and the fantastic. Reality being for Chagall, according to the quote by Apollinaire, the “sur-naturel” (the supernatural).