Chagall, Marc

Chagall, Marc

Chagall, Marc, 1887-1985, Russian painter. In 1907, Chagall left his native Vitebsk for St. Petersburg, where he studied under L. N. Bakst. In Paris (1910) he began to assimilate cubist characteristics into his expressionistic style. He is considered a forerunner of surrealism. Encouraged by Bolshevik proclamations forbidding antisemitism and making Jews citizens, Chagall returned to Russia where he became head of Vitebsk's People's Art College. But when Russia's persecution of Jews began again, Chagall returned (1922) to France, where he spent most of his life (he also lived in New York). 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). He designed the sets and costumes for Stravinsky's ballet Firebird (1945). 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. Much of Chagall's work is rendered with an extraordinary formal inventiveness and a deceptive fairy-tale naïveté. Chagall 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).

(born July 7, 1887, Vitebsk, Belorussia, Russian Empire—died March 28, 1985, Saint-Paul, Alpes-Maritimes, France) Belarusan French painter, printmaker, and designer. After studying painting in St. Petersburg, he moved to Paris in 1910. During the next four years he mixed with the avant-garde there and created what is often considered his best work in the style he would explore for the next 60 years. Often the principal figure in his fantastical works is the painter himself, and memories of Jewish life and folklore in Belarus and themes from the Bible are main sources of imagery. The often whimsical figurative elements in his works are frequently depicted upside down and distributed on the canvas in an arbitrary fashion. In the 1920s he launched a career in printmaking, producing hundreds of etchings for special editions of books. In 1941 he left for New York City, where he designed sets and costumes for Igor Stravinsky's ballet The Firebird. He later produced stained-glass windows and murals for public buildings in Jerusalem, Paris, and the U.S.

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Four Seasons is a mosaic by Marc Chagall that is located in Chase Tower Plaza in the Loop district of Chicago, Illinois. The mosaic was a gift to the City of Chicago by the artist; it is wrapped around four sides of a long, high, wide rectangular box, and was dedicated on September 27 1974. It was renovated in 1994 and a protective glass canopy was installed.

The mosaic was the subject of a 1974 documentary film The Gift: Four Seasons Mosaic of Marc Chagall directed by Chuck Olin.

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