Marc Chagall – the Russian painter who became the painter of love
Marc Chagall an orthodox Jew, was born in Vitebsk, Russia Empire (now Belarus) on the 7th of July 1887 as Moshe Segal. His father, Khatskl (Zachar) Segal, was employed by a herring merchant, and his mother, Feige-Ite, sold groceries from their home. He was the eldest of 9 children. In 1910 Chagall moved to Paris, where he changed his name to the more French sounding Marc Chagall and in 1911 moved into his own studio in La Ruche, the legendary Parisian artist colony.
On 25th of July 1915 Marc Chagall married Bella Rosenfeld in Vitebsk. By 1919 Marc Chagall had set up the Vitebsk School of Fine Arts with artists Kazimir Malevich and El Lissitzky. But things did not go well and Chagall soon upped and left. Shortly afterwards, Malevich renamed the Art School the Suprematist Academy.
By the 1930’s Marc Chagall’s paintings were selling well. In 1933 several Chagall’s paintings were publicly burnt by the Nazis, outside of the Mannheim Art Gallery. In 1937, on the orders of the Nazi regime, all Chagall’s works were removed from German museums, three were shown in the notorious Degenerate Art Exhibition in 1937. Shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War, Chagall moved his family to the United States.
In New York Pierre Matisse, the son of artist Henri Matisse, organised Chagall’s first exhibition in America, in November 1941, at the Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York. In the late 1940’s exhibitions were held of Chagall’s work in New York, London, Zurich and Bern in Switzerland. They were all hugely successful. But Marc Chagall longed to return to France, in 1948 he left America for good.
In 1950 he moved to Vence in the South of France and intermittently met up with Matisse and Picasso both of whom had studios nearby. In 1951 he married Valentina Brodsky. Their marriage gave him new energy later he visited Chartres Cathedral to study medieval stained-glass window painting. This inspired him and in 1959 he created stained glass windows for the north apse of Metz Cathedral in France.
In 1963, Chagall was commissioned to paint the new ceiling for the Paris Opera. 1964 saw Marc Chagall complete the window of the Good Samaritan for the memorial to John D Rockefeller Junior and the Peace window for the United Nations building in New York. Marc Chagall died at his home in St Paul de Vence at the age of 97, on the 28th of March 1985.
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