ART 4 2-DAY 07 July v.10.00
BIRTH: 1887 CHAGALL
Born on 07 July 1887: Mark Zakharovich Shagal
“Marc Chagall”, Belorussian French
painter and designer who died on 28 March 1985 [<click
on self-portrait to enlarge >].
Born in Vitebsk, Russia; studied at the Imperial School in St. Petersburg; lived in Paris 1910-1914 and in Berlin 1914-1922 with interruption of return to Russia in 1918 where he became art commissar in Vitebsk and married; lived in France from 1923 until his death in 1985 except for 1941-1948 in the United States; died in Saint-Paul de Vence, Alpes-Maritimes, France.
Chagall was distinguished for his surrealistic inventiveness. He is recognized as one of the most significant painters and graphic artists of the 20th century. His work treats subjects in a vein of humor and fantasy that draws deeply on the resources of the unconscious. Chagall's personal and unique imagery is often suffused with exquisite poetic inspiration.
Chagall was born Jewish in Vitebsk, Russia (now in Belarus), and was educated in art in Saint Petersburg and, from 1910, in Paris, where he remained until 1914. Between 1915 and 1917 he lived in Saint Petersburg; after the Russian Revolution he was director of the Art Academy in Vitsyebsk from 1918 to 1919 and was art director of the Moscow Jewish State Theater from 1919 to 1922. Chagall painted several murals in the theater lobby and executed the settings for numerous productions. In 1923, he moved to France, where he spent the rest of his life, except for a period of residence in the United States from 1941 to 1948.
On 23 September 1964 the Paris Opéra unveiled a stunning new ceiling painted as a gift by Chagall.
Chagall died in St. Paul de Vence, France.
Chagall's distinctive use of color and form is derived partly from Russian expressionism and was influenced decisively by French cubism. Crystallizing his style early, as in Candles in the Dark (1908), he later developed subtle variations. His numerous works represent characteristically vivid recollections of Russian-Jewish village scenes, as in Moi et le Village (1911), and incidents in his private life, as in the print series Mein Leben (1922), in addition to treatments of Jewish subjects, of which The Praying Jew (1914) is one.
His works combine recollection with folklore and fantasy. Biblical themes characterize a series of etchings executed between 1925 and 1939, illustrating the Old Testament, and the 12 stained-glass windows in the Hadassah Hospital of the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center in Jerusalem (1962). In 1973 Musée National Message Biblique Marc Chagall was opened in Nice, France, to house hundreds of his biblical works. Chagall executed many prints illustrating literary classics. A canvas completed in 1964 covers the ceiling of the Opéra in Paris, and two large murals (1966) hang in the lobby of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City.
— Byelorussian-born French painter, printmaker, and designer whose works combine images from personal experience with formal symbolic and aesthetic elements by virtue of their inner poetic force, rather than by rules of pictorial logic. Preceding Surrealism, his early works, such as Moi et le Village (1911), were among the first expressions of psychic reality in modern art. His works in various mediums include sets for plays and ballets, etchings illustrating the Bible, and stained-glass windows.
Chagall was born in a small city in the western Russian Empire not far from the Polish frontier. His family, which included eight children besides himself, was devoutly Jewish and, like the majority of the some 20'000 Jews in Vitebsk, humble without being poverty-stricken; the father worked in a herring warehouse, and the mother ran a shop where she sold fish, flour, sugar, and spices. The boy attended the heder, the Jewish elementary school, and later on he went to the local public school, where instruction was in Russian. After learning the elements of drawing at school, he studied painting in the studio of a local realist, Jehuda Pen, and in 1907 went to Saint-Petersburg, where he studied intermittently for three years, eventually under Léon Bakst, who at the time was beginning a brilliant career as a stage designer. Characteristic works of this period of early maturity are the nightmarish The Dead Man (1908), in which a roof violinist is already present, and My Fiancée with Black Gloves (1909), in which a portrait becomes an occasion for experimenting with an arrangement in black and white.
In 1910, with a living allowance provided by a Saint-Petersburg patron, Chagall went to Paris. After a year and a half in rooms in Montparnasse, he moved into a studio on the edge of town in the ramshackle settlement for bohemian artists that was known as La Ruche. He met the avant-garde poets Blaise Cendrars, Max Jacob, and Guillaume Apollinaire, as well as a number of young painters destined to become famous: the Expressionist Chaim Soutine, the abstract colorist Robert Delaunay, and the Cubists Albert Gleizes, Jean Metzinger, Fernand Léger, and André Lhote. In such company nearly every sort of pictorial audacity was encouraged, and Chagall responded to the stimulus by rapidly developing the poetic and seemingly irrational tendencies he had begun to display in Russia. At the same time, under the influence of the Impressionist, Postimpressionist, and Fauvist pictures he saw in Paris museums and commercial galleries, he gave up the usually somber palette he had employed at home.
The four years of this first stay in the French capital are often considered his best phase. Representative works are the Self-Portrait with Seven Fingers (1912), Moi et le Village (1911), Hommage à Apollinaire (1912), Calvary (1912), The Fiddler (1912), and Paris Through the Window (1913). In these pictures Chagall was already, in essentials, the artist he would continue to be for the next 60 years. His colors, although occasionally thin, are beginning to have their eventually characteristic complexity and resonance. The often whimsical figurative elements, frequently upside down, are distributed on the canvas in an arbitrary fashion, producing an effect that sometimes resembles a film montage and can suggest, as it is evidently intended to, the inner space of a reverie. The general atmosphere can imply a Yiddish joke, a Russian fairy tale, or a vaudeville turn. Often the principal personage is the romantically handsome, curly-headed, rather Oriental-looking young painter himself. Memories of childhood and of Vitebsk are already one of the main sources for imagery.
After exhibiting in the annual Paris Salon des Indépendants and Salon d'Automne, Chagall had his first one-man show in Berlin in 1914, in the gallery of the modernist publication Der Sturm, and made a strong impression on German Expressionist circles. After visiting the exhibition, he went on to Vitebsk, where he was caught by the outbreak of World War I. Working for the moment in a relatively realistic style, he painted local scenes and a series of studies of old men; examples of the series are The Praying Jew (or The Rabbi of Vitebsk; 1914) and Jew in Green (1914). In 1915 he married Bella Rosenfeld, the daughter of a wealthy Vitebsk merchant; among the many paintings in which she appears from this date onward are the depiction of flying lovers entitled Birthday (1915–23) and the high-spirited, acrobatic Double Portrait with a Glass of Wine (1917).
The Russian Revolution of October 1917 found Chagall at first enthusiastic; he became commissar for art in the Vitebsk region and launched into ambitious projects for a local academy and museum. But after two and a half years of intense activity, marked by increasingly bitter aesthetic and political quarrels, he gave up and moved to Moscow. There he turned his attention for a while to the stage, producing the sets and costumes for plays by the Jewish writer Sholem Aleichem and murals for the Kamerny Theater. In 1922 he left Russia for good, going first to Berlin, where he discovered that a large number of the pictures he had left behind in 1914 had disappeared. In 1923, this time with a wife and daughter, he settled once again in Paris.
Chagall had learned the techniques of engraving while in Berlin. Through his friend Cendrars he met the Paris art dealer Ambroise Vollard, who immediately commissioned a series of etchings to illustrate a special edition of Nikolay Gogol's novel Dead Souls and thus launched Chagall on a long career as a printmaker. During the next three years, 107 full-page plates for the Gogol book were executed. But by then Vollard had arrived at another idea: an edition of Jean de La Fontaine's Fables with colored illustrations resembling 18th-century prints. Chagall prepared 100 gouaches for reproduction, but it soon became evident that his colors were too complex for the printing process envisaged, and so he switched to black-and-white etchings, completing the plates in 1931. By this time Vollard had come up with still another idea: a series of etchings illustrating the Bible. Sixty-six plates were completed by Chagall by 1939, when World War II and the death of Vollard halted work on the project; after the war the total was raised to 105. The Paris publisher E. Tériade, picking up at the many places where Vollardhad left off, brought out Dead Souls in 1948 (with 11 more etchings for the chapter headings, making 118 in all), La Fontaine's Fables in 1952 (with two cover etchings, making 102 in all), and the Bible in 1956. Along with these much delayed ventures, Chagall was the producer of a number of smaller collections of engravings, many single plates, and an impressive quantity of colored lithographs and monotypes.
During the 1920s and the early '30s, his painting declined in the total of large canvases turned out and also, in the opinion of many critics, in quality; at any rate it became more obviously poetical and more and more popular with the general public. Examples are the Bride and Groom with Eiffel Tower (1928; 800x728pix, 168kb) and The Circus (1931). With the rise of Adolf Hitler, however, and the growing threat of a new world conflict, the artist began to have visions of a very different sort, which are reflected in the powerful “White Crucifixion” (1938). Throughout this interwar period he traveled extensively, working in Brittany in 1924, in southern France in 1926, in Palestine in 1931 (as preparation for the Bible etchings), and, between 1932 and 1937, in Holland, Spain, Poland, and Italy. In 1931 he published, in a French adaptation, My Life, which he had written earlier in Russian. His reputation as a modern master was confirmed by a large retrospective exhibition in 1933 at the Kunsthalle, Basel, Switzerland
With the outbreak of World War II, he moved to the Loire district of France and then, as the Nazi menace for all European Jews became increasingly real, further and further south. Finally, in July 1941, he and his family took refuge in the United States; he spent most of the next few years in New York City or its neighborhood.For a while Chagall continued in his painting to develop themes he had already treated in France; typical works of this period are the Yellow Crucifixion (1943) and The Feathers and the Flowers (1943). But in 1944 his wife Bella died, and memories of her, often in a Vitebsk setting, became a recurring pictorial motif. She appears as a weeping wife and a phantom bride in Around Her (1945) and, again, as the bride in The Wedding Candles (1945) and Nocturne (1947).
In 1945 Chagall designed the backdrops and costumes for a New York City production of Igor Stravinsky's ballet The Firebird. American art critics and collectors, who had not always been favorably disposed toward his work, were given an opportunity to revise their opinions in a large retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in 1946 and at the Art Institute of Chicago a few months later.
In 1948 he settled again in France, first in the suburbs of Paris and finally on the French Riviera at Vence and nearby Saint-Paul. In 1952 he married Vava Brodsky and began, at the age of 65, what might almost be called a new career—although the familiar, poetic, memory-derived motifs continued to appear in his work. Between 1953 and 1956, without forgetting his native Vitebsk, he produced a series of paintings inspired by his affection for Paris. In 1958 he did the sets and costumes for a production of Maurice Ravel's ballet Daphnis et Chloé at the Paris Opéra. After 1958 he designed a number of stained-glass windows, first for the Cathedral of Metz (1958–1960) and the synagogue of the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center in Jerusalem (1960–1961). In 1964 he unveiled a window for the United Nations building in New York City and completed a new ceiling for the Paris Opéra, and two years later he completed two large mural paintings, The Sources of Music and The Triumph of Music, for the new home of the New York Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center. In 1967 he created the sets and costumes for a Metropolitan Opera production of W.A. Mozart's Magic Flute. In 1973 the Museum of the Marc Chagall Biblical Message was dedicated at Nice, France, and in 1977 France honored him with a retrospective exhibition at the Louvre in Paris. In 1977 Chagall's The American Windows were unveiled at the Art Institute of Chicago.
A repertory of images that includes massive bouquets, melancholy clowns, flying lovers, fantastic animals, biblical prophets, and fiddlers on roofs helped to make Chagall one of the most popular of the major innovators in the 20th-century school of Paris. This dreamlike subject matter is presented in rich colors and in a fluent, painterly style that—while reflecting an awareness of such pre-1914 movements as Expressionism, Cubism, and even abstraction—remained invariably personal. Although critics sometimes complained of facile sentiments, uneven quality, and an excessive repetition of motifs in the artist's large total production, there is agreement that at its best it reached a level of visual metaphor seldom attempted in modern art.
Self-Portrait with white collar (800x695pix, 44kb _ ZOOM to 975x847pix, 56kb)
–- Self~Portrait With 7 Fingers on One Hand (800x677pix, 54kb)
— Blue Self-Portrait (800x662pix, 175kb)
— Self-Portrait with paintbrushes
–- Autoportrait de profil (1914, 34x28cm; 1200x874pix, 99kb) blue _ This depicts the young Chagall shortly after he returned from Paris to his hometown of Vitebsk. Earlier that spring, the artist had exhibited his recent paintings at both the Salon des Indépendants in Paris and at the Galerie Der Sturm in Berlin. Critics throughout Europe praised his work, particularly his stunning self-portraits, which were saturated with bold colours. But Chagall’s time in central Europe was cut short just as his star was beginning to rise among the avant-garde. In mid-1914 while he was visiting his family in Belarus, Germany declared war on Russia, and the artist was prohibited from traveling back to the French capital for the next several years. This may explain why, as seems obvious, he was feeling blue when he painted this. The paintings that he did during these first months of the war show the modern influences that he had taken with him from Paris and the poetic stylisation of the Russian folk culture that now surrounded him in Vitebsk. This intimate depiction of the 27-year-old artist, entranced by the smell the flowers and the pleasures of his youth, is a wonderful example of his culturally enriched aesthetic. Using a palette of deep blues and greens, Chagall created an intensely personal and introspective image. The theme of self-representation was of constant interest to Chagall throughout his long and prolific career. But those self-portraits from his early years are among the most significant, as they established Chagall’s identity within the artistic avant-garde. The self-portraits from 1909-1917 were essential to Chagall’s individuality and coming-of-age as an artist. The profusion and variety of these self-portraits are such that they reveal, in addition to their origins in a formal studio practice, a true self-esteem and yet a desire for affirmation – the artist is using self-portraiture as a means of observing and measuring his own ambition. It is also clear that at such moments – by choosing the self-portrait genre, by betraying a consciousness of his appearance, by representing himself as both complacent and exalted – Chagall is expressing his intuition that henceforth, art will no longer be the product of a larger cultural context, but shall originate in the subjectivity of the individual artist. By placing himself at the center of the artwork, he asserts that he is no longer a mere executor (of the wishes of the church, of those in power, of the academy, of the view); he has taken command of his production.
— Les Mariés de la Tour Eiffel (détail) (1939; 1704x2272pix, kb)
–- Moi et le Village (700x556pix, 55kb _ .ZOOM 1 to 1400x1112pix, 143kb _ .ZOOM 2 to 1837x1435pix, 1278kb)
— La Promenade (1600x1523pix, 259kb)
— Le Juif Rouge (1600x1286pix, 309kb)
–- White Crucifixion
–- Jew at Prayer
–- Praying Jew
–- Abraham About to Sacrifice Isaac
–- Parting of the Red Sea
–- Adam and Eve
–- Dan stained glass window
–- Joseph stained glass window
–- Issachar stained glass window
–- Levi stained glass window
–- Three Candles
–- Newspaper Seller
–- Red Nude
–- The Spoonful of Milk
–- Les amoureux sur le banc (1199x905pix, 159kb) _ It is not clear why the lovers might be feeling so blue in spite of the many flowers.
–- Couple sur le village (1982, 65x50cm; 1171x896pix, 93kb) _ By 1982, Chagall was an artist of world-renown, his popular fame matching his commercial success. He had traveled extensively with his second wife, Vava, and he was invited to lecture across the world, where he would speak about his life, his art and his means of self-expression. Yet for all his cosmopolitanism, Chagall never lost sight of his Russian roots and proudly celebrated his heritage in every work produced. In the artist's earlier paintings, the rhythm of the shtetl, his childhood home, takes center stage. Characterized by a fervent harking back to Russian life, the works from his first years in Paris are yoked to a certain melancholy and longing for the life he had led in Vitebsk as a young boy.
In the present gouache, the topsy-turvy shtetl is now joyously depicted beneath lively figures reminiscent of the folk art and icons of his native land. The sorrow is gone, and the entire mise en scène is presented with a theatricality of gesture and a great boldness of vision. The lovers rise above the scene, dominating the picture plane, to be met by the gaze of the painter, a characteristically cheeky self-reference from Chagall. Farmyard animals also count among the elements that reappear in Chagall's oeuvre, and likewise refer back to his childhood experiences. As in folk tales, animals have the same rights as man. Moreover, in following his creative impulses the painter touched on the very foundations of existence in which everything is united in a marvellous pantheistic universality. _ Auctioned at Christie's, Tel Aviv, on 01 May 2005; estimated at about $350'000.
— Music (800x484pix, 113kb)
–- Le Jongleur (1200x861pix, 88kb)
–- Composition (le visage bleu) (1147x824pix, 167kb) _ This has been thoroughly transformed by the pseudonymous Aurèle Chamaille into the symmetrical abstraction
_ Supposition de Face Bleue aka Si Va Avis (2006; screen filling, 201kb _ ZOOM to 932x1318pix, 486kb)
— 189 images at Ciudad de la Pintura.