Marc Chagall (1887 – 1985) The biographical sketch below is from ART20, The Thames and Hudson Multimedia Dictionary of Modern Art Marc Chagall: Russian-born French painter. Born to a humble Jewish family in the ghetto of a large town in White Russia, Chagall passed a childhood steeped in Hasidic culture. Very early in life he was encouraged by his mother to follow his vocation and she managed to get him into a St Petersburg art school. Returning to Vitebsk, he became engaged to Bella Rosenfeld (whom he married twelve years later), then, in 1910, set off for Paris, ‘the Mecca of art’. He was a tenant at La Ruche, where he had and Soutine for neighbours. His Slav Expressionism was tinged with the influence of , , the Nabis and the Fauves. He was also influenced by Cubism. Essentially a colourist, Chagall was interested in the Simultaneist vision of Robert Delaunay and the Luminists of the Section d’Or. Modigliani Daumier Jean-François Millet Chagall returned to Vitebsk in 1914, where he was caught by the outbreak of the First World War. He married Bella there in 1915. He was appointed provincial Commissar for Fine Art in 1917 and became involved in ambitious projects for a local academy, but he left after two and a half years in order to escape the revolutionary dictates of Malevich. After a stay in Moscow, where he worked in the Jewish theatre, then in Berlin, where he studied the technique of engraving, he returned to Paris in 1923. For the publisher Vollard he illustrated Gogol’s Dead Souls, La Fontaine’s Fables and the Bible. Breton, who admired the ‘total lyric explosion’ of his pre-war painting, tried to claim him for Surrealism but Chagall only flirted with it briefly during his exile in New York (1941-48). His emblematic irrationality shook off all outside influences: colour governed his compositions, calling up chimerical processions of memory where reality and the imaginary are woven into a single legend, born in Vitebsk and dreamed in Paris. Back in France, Chagall discovered ceramics, sculpture and stained glass. He settled in the south of France, first at Vence (1950), then in Saint-Paul-de-Vence (1966). Commissions poured in: for the Assy baptistery in 1957, the cathedrals of Metz (1960) and Rheims (1974), the Hebrew University Medical Centre synagogue in Jerusalem (1960), the Paris Opéra (1963). The Musée Chagall in Nice dedicated to the ‘Biblical Message’ set the seal on his fame in July 1973. A painter-poet celebrated by Apollinaire and Cendrars, Chagall brought back the forgotten dimension of metaphor into French formalism.