* 1887 Witebsk
† 1985 Saint-Paul-de-Vence
The artist Marc Chagall is born on July 7, 1887 in Witebsk, Belarus the oldest son of nine of a Jewish family. Chagall attends the private Swansewa Art School in St. Petersburg, led by Léon Baks, from 1907 to 1910. He travels to Paris in 1910, where he becomes acquainted with contemporary writers and artists and the avant-garde, and takes on diverse styles in his painting. These early works are already proof of a great pleasure in telling stories in poetic images in beautiful colors. Herwarth Walden organizes his first one-man show in the Berlin gallery "Der Sturm" in 1914. He returns to Witebsk where the outbreak of World War I comes quite surprising.
Marc Chagall is appointed commissioner of fine arts in Witebsk in 1918, founding his own art academy the same year, with El Lissitzky and Kasimir Malewitsch, among others, as teachers.
Chagall leaves Russia for good in 1922, living for a short time in Berlin and finally settles in Paris as of 1923, where he gets his first remittance work from the art dealer Ambroise Vollard for a book illustration project the same year. He illustrates Nikolai Gogol's novel "Die toten Seelen" (The Dead Souls). As of 1925 Marc Chagall does illustrations for La Fontaine's fables. His bible illustrations are made between 1931 and 1939 as well as of 1952, they are published in 1956. Marc Chagall creates an own timeless and poetic world of images in his works. His main source of inspiration is Russia's rich stock of folk art, Jewish mysticism and legends., but also dream visions and the subconscious. Certain motifs and metaphors are recurring, such as the loving couple, the moon, the cock or the Jew Schtetl.
Besides paintings, Chagall executes numerous cycles of etchings as well as lithographs. Even though Marc Chagall began dealing with lithography only after returning to Paris, he attains a certain mastery within a very short time.
He receives numerous remittance works for public buildings between 1950 and 1970, designing, for instance, glass windows for the cathedral in Metz, for the cathedral Notre-Dame in Reims, the synagogue of the Hadassah university hospital in Jerusalem and St. Stephen's Church in Mainz. He executes a great ceiling for the cupola above the auditorium of the Paris Opéra Garnier as of 1963. As of 1964 he begins with murals in the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
Marc Chagall immigrates to the USA in 1941. The first comprehensive retrospective exhibition takes place at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1946. The artist returns to Paris in 1947 and settles in Saint-Paul-de-Vence in 1950, where he dies on March 28, 1985. Chagall retains his creative strength up into an old age.