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Marc Chagall

(1887 – 1985)

Marc Chagall

Chagall is one of the most famous artists in France in the 20th century. His work has characteristics of surrealism and neo-primitivism.

Chagall was born on 7 July 1887 in Russia, in a Jewish family. He was brought up in the peace and tenderness of his mother, who taught him to read and to love the Bible and people. Vitebsk remained in Chagall’s imagination as the naive paradise of childhood, and the painter represented it in many paintings, in his youth and also later.

[…] If we are looking for an artist among the painters of the 20th century who is also and above all a poet, who always places the reasons of the heart before those of logic and intelligence, we will find Marc Chagall. The religion of the Hasidic Jews, that of Chagall’s ancestors, teaches that the smallest entity in nature conceals a spark of mystical fire, a direct emanation of the divinity. This pantheistic conception of the world constitutes the beginnings of Chagall’s art […]. This multi-faceted love will illuminate and nourish all of Chagall’s art: his attachment to Vitebsk, his birthplace, and the fabulous world of his childhood […]; in 1910 when he went to Paris, he developed a passion for Paris that ignited explosive fires and sumptuous garlands of images and colours in the paintings inspired by this second homeland.

Paris helped him to shape his culture. Chagall contacted other Russian-speaking artists and writers, including Blaise Cendrars. He became close to the poet and art critic Guillaume Apollinaire.

Chagall found and reunited the fragments of a vision that sprang from the innermost part of himself, and which he transcribed harmoniously onto canvas. It is a vision of the real, seen with the heart rather than with the eyes. The symbolism that seems to permeate Chagall’s painting is neither intended nor planned, but is the result and accentuation of the significant value of the images. Chagall simply tells how he sees and loves the world, what he remembers, what he accepts, what he senses. And the vitality of his vision, the effectiveness of his persuasion is such that the image is no longer contingent; it becomes part of a tight interplay of relationships, and becomes a symbol.

He returned to his native country in 1914, a stay that was longer than expected due to the Second World War. In 1915, he married Bella, the great love of his life. Among his most popular works is “Double Portrait with a Glass of Wine”, 1917-1918, in which Chagall celebrates his marriage to Bella in a dreamlike way. The painter portrays himself as a joyful acrobat in this painting with its violent colours, which convey a true hymn to joy and life. The couple seems to be flying over a city, Vitebsk, the painter’s birthplace. This canvas is one of the masterpieces painted by Chagall during the years of the Second World War. […]

Sources

Nahon, P. N. (2014). S.V. « Chagall, Marc (1887-1985) » in : Dictionnaire amoureux de l’art moderne et de l’art contemporain, vol. 1, Plon. [In French]

Wikipedia in French
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