1887 Ljosna/Belarus – 1985 Saint-Paul-de-Vence/France
Born as Moishe Segal in Belarus, Marc Chagall receives his first painting lessons from a local Jewish painter. In his early twenties he moves to St. Petersburg, where he is taught at the Swanseva School by the famous painter, set and costume designer Leo Bakst. Thanks to a scholarship, Chagall is able to travel to Paris in 1910, setting up his own art studio there. He comes into contact with Robert Delaunay, Guillaume Apollinaire, and Fernand Léger and with the style of Cubism. In 1914 Herwarth Walden, through the intercession of Apollinaire’s, organises Chagall’s first solo exhibition at his Berlin gallery Der Sturm, which Chagall regards as a chance for an international breakthrough.
From Berlin, he travels back to his home country and marries Bella Rosenfeld. Following, he goes to Russia to participate in the revolutionary upheaval. The artist takes opportunities to exhibit, and in 1918, as appointed commissioner of fine arts, founds a modern art school. In 1920, he leaves the school due to disputes, and in 1922 he leaves Russia with his family for good. In the 1930s, the artist visits Israel, Spain, Netherland, Poland, and Italy. In 1924 in Paris and in 1933 in Basel retrospectives of Chagall are presented. At the outbreak of World War II, the family emigrates to the USA, where his wife Bella dies in 1944. In Germany, his art is either burned or defamed as “degenerate”. After the end of the war he settles permanently in France, where he marries his second wife, the Russian called “Vava”.
Chagall continues to travel to many countries, also exhibiting there. During this time, he creates stage sets and costumes for ballets, sculptures and also works as a glass painter designing windows in churches and other buildings. In the Choir of the Frauenmünster in Zurich are well-known stained-glass windows by the artist. However, he becomes famous for his graphics, especially lithographs and etchings. In his art he combines Fauvism, Cubism, parts of Russian folk art and Jewish mythology.