"Only love interests me, and I am only in contact with things that revolve around love."
"I adore the theater and I am a painter. I think the two are made for a marriage of love. I will give all my soul to prove this once more."
"I work in whatever medium likes me at the moment."
Marc Chagall , Moishe Shagal, was a Russian-French artist. Russian – because he was born and started his career in Russia, French – because France became his home for all life. He created a unique career in virtually every artistic medium, including paintings, book illustrations, stained glass, stage sets, ceramics, tapestries and fine art prints. Influenced by Cubism and Expressionism, influenced Surrealism, but refused to be labelled as part of any one movement.
Marc Chagall was born in a poor Jewish family in Russia. His father worked in a fish factory and his mother ran a grocery store. In Russia at that time Jewish children were not allowed to attend regular Russian schools or universities due to policies of discrimination. Their movement within the city was also restricted. Chagall therefore received his primary education at the local Jewish religious school, where he studied Hebrew and the Bible.
Chagall left Vitebsk to work and study in St. Petersburg in 1908. He spent his student days at Vitebsk and at the Petersburg Academy under Leon Bakst, who pointed out Cezanne, van Gogh and Gaugin to him.
In 1909 Chagall met Bella Rosenfeld, his love and future wife. But in 1910 with the help of his art patron, Vivaner, Chagall moved to Paris to work in the city that was the Mecca of the arts, leaving Russia and Bella behind.
Returning to Russia in 1914 he showed twenty five paintings at the official Moscow Exhibition and became friends with several great Russian poets. In 1914, before the outbreak of World War I, Chagall held a one-man show in Berlin, exhibiting work dominated by Jewish images. During the war, he resided in Russia, and in 1917, endorsing the revolution, he was appointed Commissar for Fine Arts in Vitebsk and then director of the newly established Free Academy of Art.
He married Bella in 1915 and his painting reflects his happiness from the marriage in such famous paintings as The Birthday, Double Portrait with Wine Glass, and Over the Town. He moved to Moscow in 1920 and then back to Paris in 1923 after a nine year stay in Russia. After a period of further hardship, Chagall began to receive more commissions and by 1930 his name was known worldwide.
In 1922, Chagall left Russia, settling in France one year later. He lived there permanently except for World War II, when he resided in the United States. Chagall's horror over the Nazi rise to power is expressed in works depicting Jewish martyrs and refugees. In addition to images of the Jewish world, Chagall's paintings are inspired by themes from the Bible. His fascination with the Bible culminated in a series of over 100 etchings illustrating the Bible, many of which incorporate elements from folklore and from religious life in Russia. Bella died suddenly, just before the end of the war and Chagall was overcome with grief. In 1947 Chagall returned to France and made his home in Vence.
Israel, which Chagall first visited in 1931 for the opening of the Tel Aviv Art Museum, is likewise endowed with some of Chagall's work, most notably the twelve stained glass windows at Hadassah Hospital and wall decorations at the Knesset.
In 1962 he was commissioned to create 12 stained-glass windows for the Hadassah Hospital of the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center in Jerusalem. It was a major masterpiece and he said of it, “I felt my father and my mother were looking over my shoulder, and behind them were Jews, millions of other vanished Jews of yesterday and a thousand years ago.“
In 1964 he completed a canvas that covers the ceiling of the Opera in Paris, and two very large murals now in the lobby of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. He created the American Windows in 1977 for the Chicago Art Institute. Marc Chagall died in 1985 and was buried in France at Saint-Paul.
(Source: Wikipedia, www.fantasyarts.net, www.chagallpaintings.org)