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Marc Chagall (French/Russian, 1887-1985)


Also known as:  Shagal, Mark; Shagal, Mark Zakharovich; Shagal, Moses

Birth Place: Vitebsk (Vitebsk province, Belorussia)

Marc Chagall was a unique artist who created art according to his heritage and experiences rather than based on the principles of the many modern art movements of his time. Chagall was born in Vitebsk, Russia (modern day Belarus) into a Hasidic Jewish family. He grew up in a world of mysticism, and Jewish lore and culture, which forever influenced the dreamlike quality of his paintings. Chagall was first introduced to art when he transferred to a public school from his Jewish elementary school. He later moved to St. Petersburg to study art at the Imperial Society for the Protection of Art. Here, he was exposed to folk art and Russian icons that also influenced the imagery of his work throughout his life. Chagall later moved to Paris, a city where all of the modern art movements such as cubism, fauvism, and futurism coexisted. Though Chagall’s work was organically influenced by the aesthetics of the time, he refused to subscribe to any movement in particular and was surprised when the public began to herald him one of the fathers of Surrealism. During World War II, MoMA extended an offer to Chagall to move to the US, which he accepted, and he spent the length of the war in the US designing well-received backdrops for ballets such as Pushkin’s The Gypsies and Stravinsky’s The Firebird. Chagall moved back to France a few years after the war’s conclusion and settled in the French countryside where he lived out the rest of his life.

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