Marc Chagall (1887-1985)|
The Russian painter MARC GHAGALL, who died in the South of France in 1985 at the age of 97, is widely regarded as epitomizing the "painter as poet". The worldwide admiration he commanded remains unparalled by any artist of this century.
Chagall's paintings, steeped in mythology and mysticism, portray colorful dreams and tales that are deeply rooted in his Russian Jewish origins. The memories and yearning they evoke recall his native Vitebsk, and the great events that mark the life of ordinary folks: birth, love, marriage and death. They tell of a world full of everyday miracles - in the rooms of lovers, on the streets of Vitebsk, beneath the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Heaven and earth seem to meet in a topsy-turvy world in which whimsical figures of people and animals float through the air with gravity-defying serenity.
This "poet with the wings of a painter", as Henry Miller once described him, was destined to a life of wandering. Born in Vitebsk, he trained in St. Petersburg before spending four important years between 1910 and 1914 in Paris. Visiting Russia in 1914, the outbreak of war prevented his return. He remained there until 1922, working for part of the time as a commissar for art, returning to Paris via Berlin in 1923.
In 1941, on the day German troops marched into Russia, he left France once again and emigrated to the USA. In 1949, he settled in the South of France.
In 1985 Marc Chagall died just as his major retrospective was closing in Russia. He was buried at Saint-Paul. With his death the world was left the gifts of an artist whose work is timeless. Throughout his artistic life he assimilated many of the modern developments in art into his own personal style.
He was influenced by, but never aligned to, movements such as Cubism, Fauvism and Surrealism. His work is rich in the imagery of the folklore of his native Russia and Jewish life, and often takes on the appearance of a dream-like fantasy. The breadth of his abilities is shown in the fact that he was able to take on many challenges such as stained-glass, theatre and costume design and book illustration. Indeed Chagall, with such abilities, proved himself one of the 20th century's great masters of art.