Marc Chagall, great avant-garde artist
Creating pictures, Marc Chagall was guided exclusively by instinct: the composition, proportions and chiaroscuro were alien to him. He was one of the most successful artists of the 20th century.
Movsha Hatskelevich (later Moses Hatskelevich and Mark Zakharovich) Chagall was born on July 6, 1887 in Vitebsk, Russian Empire. The head of the family worked as a loader and the mother was a housewife.
At the age of five, Movsha, like every Jewish boy, entered a cheder (elementary school), where he studied prayers and the Law of God. The boy was fond of drawing.
“My mother told me that when I was born, a huge fire had engulfed the city, and to save us, the bed in which we were both lying, was being moved from place to place. Maybe that’s why I always feel the need to go somewhere.” Chagall was restless, like a migratory bird.
Once in his childhood a gypsy foretold him that he would have an extraordinary life, would love one extraordinary woman and two ordinary, and would die … in flight.
After school he went to St. Petersburg and entered the Drawing School of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, headed by Nicholas Roerich. There he studied for 2 months. In the summer of 1909, Chagall returned to Vitebsk. The young man fell into depression. The paintings of this period reflect the dejected inner state of the unrecognized genius. Soon Chagall met the love of his life Bella Rosenfeld. Marc was full of inspiration and once again wanted to live and create.
In the autumn of 1909, he returned to St. Petersburg. The letters of recommendation helped Chagall enter the prestigious drawing school of the eminent philanthropist Zvantseva. Painter Lev Bakst was the head of the school. Moreover, it is reliably known that Lev paid for the studies of the young man.
In May 1911, Chagall went to Paris, where he continued his studies. In the French capital, he first began to sign his work with the name Marc.
His artistic biography began with the painting Deceased. In 1909, the works Portrait of My Bride in Black Gloves and Family, created under the influence of neo-primitivism, were painted. And in August 1910 Marc left for Paris. The central works of the Paris period were Me and my village, Russia, donkeys and others, Self-portrait with seven fingers and Calvary. At the same time, he painted Praying Jew which made Chagall one of the artistic leaders of the revived Jewish culture.
His first personal exhibition was opened in Berlin in June 1914. In the summer of 1914 Marc returned to Vitebsk, where he was caught by the outbreak of the First World War.
In pre-revolutionary period the artist created epic monumental portraits (The Seller of Newspapers, The Green Jew, The Praying Jew, The Red Jew), paintings from the series Lovers (Blue Lovers, Green Lovers, Pink Lovers) and genre, portrait, landscape compositions (Mirror, Bella with White Collar, Over the Town).
At the beginning of the summer of 1922 Chagall went to Berlin to learn about the fate of the works exhibited before the war. In Berlin, the artist learned new techniques – etching, dry needle, woodcuts. The artist made a series of etchings to illustrate his autobiography My Life published in 1923. The book, translated into French, was published in Paris in 1931. To create a series of illustrations for the novel Dead Souls by Nikolai Vasilyevich Gogol in 1923 Mark Zakharovich moved to Paris.
In 1927 a series of paintings with images of clowns, harlequins and acrobats was created. The minister of propaganda of fascist Germany, Paul Joseph Goebbels ordered to burn his works in Mannheim in 1933. The persecution of Jews in fascist Germany, a premonition of an approaching catastrophe painted Chagall’s works in apocalyptic tones. In the prewar and war years, one of the leading themes of his art was the crucifixion (The White Crucifixion, Crucified Artist, Martyr, Yellow Christ).
The first wife of an outstanding artist was the daughter of jeweler Bella Rosenfeld. Later he wrote: “For many years her love lit up everything I did.” Six years after the first meeting, on July 25, 1915, they got married. She gave birth to their daughter Ida.
His muse Bella died of sepsis in an American hospital on September 2, 1944. It was a terrible catastrophe for Marc. When the artist returned to the empty house after the funeral, he placed a portrait of Bella on the easel and asked Ida to throw away all the brushes and paints.
“Artistic mourning” lasted for 9 months. Only thanks to the attention and care of his daughter, he came back to life. In the summer of 1945, Ida hired a nurse to take care of her father. So Virginia Haggard appeared in the life of Chagall. Chagall was then fifty-eight, Virginia was in her thirties. No, he still loved his Bella, but the loneliness was unbearable for him!
Soon, Virginia gave birth to their son David McNeill. In 1948 the family moved to France.
Alas, Virginia was an ordinary woman, and could not resist the temptations of Paris. In 1951, the young lady left Marc because of the Belgian photographer Charles Leirens.
Moses wanted to commit suicide again, and in order to distract her father from painful thoughts, Ida introduced him to the owner of the London fashion show, Valentina Brodskaya. Four months after the first meeting they got married. Valentina did not let her children and grandchildren go to Chagall, “inspired” him to draw decorative bouquets, because they could be sell, and thoughtlessly spent her spouses’ fees. They lived together until the death of the artist, however, he constantly painted Bella.
The famous artist died on March 28, 1985 at the age of 98. He died in the elevator went up to the second floor. Though not high, but still up! And, then, he actually died in the air…
Today, the works of Chagall can be seen in the galleries of France, the USA, Germany, Russia, Belarus, Switzerland and Israel. The house in Vitebsk, where the artist lived for a long time, was turned into a house-museum.
Chagall proved himself to be one of the greatest masters of art of the 20th century.
His official site