Marc Moishe Chagall 1887-1985 was a Russian-French artist known for his distinctive blend of symbolism, surrealism, and modernism. He was born in Vitebsk, a city in present-day Belarus, and later became a naturalized French citizen. Chagall’s left hand has seven fingers and the number seven is meaningful to Chagall, as he was born on the 7th day of the 7th month in 1887.
Chagall’s father, Khatskl Zakhar Shagal, worked in a herring warehouse, and his mother, Feige-Ite, ran a small grocery store. Their occupations were more aligned with the practical aspects of everyday life, and their modest means reflected the economic circumstances of the time. Chagall’s upbringing in a Jewish family and the experiences of his early life, including the influence of his parents’ work and the atmosphere of his hometown, had a lasting impact on his artistic sensibilities and the themes he explored in his art.
Chagall had several siblings. He was one of nine children in his family. The names of his siblings were Albert, Bella, Hershel, David, Moyse, Ida, Liova, and Malka.
Chagall had one daughter named Ida with his first wife, Bella Rosenfeld. Ida was born in 1916. Unfortunately, Bella Rosenfeld Chagall passed away in 1944 from a throat infection. Later, Chagall married Valentina Vava Brodsky in 1952, and they had a son named David McNeil Chagall, born in 1954.
Chagall was born into a Jewish family and grew up in a Hasidic community. His childhood experiences and memories of his hometown had a profound influence on his artistic style. In 1910, Chagall moved to Paris, which was a center of the avant-garde art scene at the time. He was exposed to various art movements, including Fauvism and Cubism, but he developed his own unique style that incorporated elements of dreamlike fantasy and folklore.
Chagall’s work often drew on his Eastern European Jewish heritage. He frequently depicted scenes from Jewish village life, biblical themes, and folklore in his paintings. Chagall’s paintings are known for their dreamlike quality, floating figures, and use of symbolism. He often depicted lovers, musicians, animals, and religious motifs in fantastical and poetic compositions.
Chagall worked in various mediums, including painting, stained glass, ceramics, and tapestry. His versatility allowed him to explore different forms of artistic expression. Chagall returned to Russia after the outbreak of World War I and the Russian Revolution. He briefly served as the commissar of arts for Vitebsk, where he founded an art school. However, he eventually left due to artistic conflicts and political turmoil.
Chagall returned to Paris in 1923, where he continued to develop his unique style. He gained international recognition and became associated with the School of Paris, a term referring to the artistic community of foreign-born artists in the city. Chagall and his family faced persecution during World War II. They managed to escape to the United States, where he continued to work and exhibit his art.
After the war, Chagall returned to France. He continued to create art well into his old age, producing paintings, stained glass windows, and other works. His later works often explored themes of love, memory, and nostalgia.
Throughout Shagall 75-year career he produced an astounding 10,000 works. In 2017, an oil painting by Chagall, glistening with love for his first wife, went for $28.5 million at a New York auction, nearly tripling the artist’s previous auction record. Les Amoureux is regarded as one of Shagall best pieces to ever be offered for sale, was first painted in 1928 and had been in the same family for almost nine decades.
Marc Chagall’s contributions to the art world have left a lasting impact, and his work continues to be celebrated for its unique blend of personal expression and universal themes.