gained power in Germany. Anti-Semitic laws were being introduced and the first concentration camp at Dachau
had been established. Wullschlager describes the early effects on art:
Beginning during 1937 about twenty thousand works from German museums were confiscated as "degenerate" by a committee directed by Joseph Goebbels
." Although the German press had once "swooned over him", the new German authorities now made a mockery of Chagall's art, describing them as "green, purple, and red Jews shooting out of the earth, fiddling on violins, flying through the air ...
In response I am sending you some pictures which I painted in Paris out of homesickness for Russia. They are not very typical of me; I have selected the most modest ones for the Russian exhibition.
gained power in Germany. Anti-Semitic laws were being introduced and the first concentration camp at Dachau
had been established. Wullschlager describes the early effects on art:
Beginning during 1937 about twenty thousand works from German museums were confiscated as "degenerate" by a committee directed by Joseph Goebbels
." Although the German press had once "swooned over him", the new German authorities now made a mockery of Chagall's art, describing them as "green, purple, and red Jews shooting out of the earth, fiddling on violins, flying through the air ... representing [an] assault on Western civilization."."
After Germany invaded and occupied France, the Chagalls naively remained in Vichy France
, unaware that French Jews, with the help of the Vichy government, were being collected and sent to German concentration camps, from which few would return. The Vichy collaborationist government, directed by Marshal Philippe Pétain
, immediately upon assuming power established a commission to "redefine French citizenship" with the aim of stripping "undesirables", including naturalized citizens, of their French nationality. Chagall had been so involved with his art, that it was not until October 1940, after the Vichy government, at the behest of the Nazi occupying forces, began approving anti-Semitic laws, that he began to understand what was happening. Learning that Jews were being removed from public and academic positions, the Chagalls finally "woke up to the danger they faced." But Wullschlager notes that "by then they were trapped." Their only refuge could be America, but "they could not afford the passage to New York" or the large bond that each immigrant had to provide upon entry to ensure that they would not become a financial burden to the country.
Escaping occupied FranceAccording to Wullschlager, "[T]he speed with which France collapsed astonished everyone: the French army, with British support, capitulated even more quickly than Poland had done" a year earlier, even though Poland had been attacked by both Germany and the Soviet Union. "Shock waves crossed the Atlantic... as Paris had until then been equated with civilization throughout the non-Nazi world." Yet the attachment of the Chagalls to France "blinded them to the urgency of the situation." Many other well-known Russian and Jewish artists eventually sought to escape: these included Chaim Soutine
, Max Ernst
, Max Beckmann
, Ludwig Fulda
, author Victor Serge
and prize-winning author Vladimir Nabokov
, who although not Jewish himself, had a "passionate interest" in Jews and Israel. Russian author Victor Serge described many of the people living temporarily in Marseilles who were waiting to emigrate to America:
After prodding by their daughter Ida, who "perceived the need to act fast," and with help from Alfred Barr
of the New York Museum of Modern Art, Chagall was saved by having his name added to the list of prominent artists whose lives were at risk and who the United States should try to extricate. Varian Fry, the American journalist, and Hiram Bingham IV, the American Vice-Consul in Marseilles, ran a rescue operation to smuggle artists and intellectuals out of Europe to the US by providing them with forged visas to the US. Chagall was one of over 2,000 who were rescued by this operation. He left France during May 1941, "when it was almost too late", adds Lewis. Picasso and Matisse were also among artists invited to come to America but they decided to remain in France. Chagall and Bella arrived in New York on June 23, 1941, which was the next day after Germany invaded the Soviet Union. Ida and her husband Marc followed on the notorious refugee ship SS Navemar
with a large case of Chagall's work.
during 1939. After being in America he discovered that he had already achieved "international stature", writes Cogniat. He felt ill-suited in this new role in a foreign country, however, one the language of which he could not yet speak. He became a celebrity mostly against his will, feeling lost in the strange surroundings.
After a while he began to settle in New York, which was full of writers, painters, and composers who, like himself, had fled from Europe during the Nazi invasions. He spent time visiting galleries and museums, and befriended other painters including Piet Mondrian
and André Breton
Baal-Teshuva writes that Chagall "loved" going to the sections of New York where Jews lived, especially the Lower East Side
. There he felt at home, enjoying the Jewish foods and being able to read the Yiddish press, which became his main source of information since he did not yet speak English.
Contemporary artists did not yet understand or even like Chagall's art. According to Baal-Teshuva, "they had little in common with a folkloristic storyteller of Russo-Jewish extraction with a propensity for mysticism." The Paris School, which was referred to as 'Parisian Surrealism,' meant little to them. Those attitudes would begin to change, however, when Pierre Matisse
, the son of recognized French artist Henri Matisse
, became his representative and managed Chagall exhibitions in New York and Chicago during 1941. One of the earliest exhibitions included 21 of his masterpieces from 1910 to 1941. Art critic Henry McBride
wrote about this exhibit for the New York Sun:
Aleko ballet (1942)He was offered a commission by choreographer Leonid Massine, of the New York Ballet Theatre to design the sets and costumes for his new ballet, Aleko. This ballet would stage the words of Pushkin's verse narrative The Gypsies
with the music of Tchaikovsky
. While Chagall had done stage settings before while in Russia, this was his first ballet, and it would give him the opportunity to visit Mexico. While there he quickly began to appreciate the "primitive ways and colorful art of the Mexicans," notes Cogniat. He found "something very closely related to his own nature", and did all the color detail for the sets while there. Eventually, he created four large backdrops and had Mexican seamstresses sew the ballet costumes.
When the ballet premiered on 8 September 1942 it was considered a "remarkable success." In the audience were other famous mural painters who came to see Chagall's work, including Diego Rivera
and José Orozco. According to Baal-Teshuva, when the final bar of music ended, "there was a tumultuous applause and 19 curtain calls, with Chagall himself being called back onto the stage again and again." The ballet also opened in New York City four weeks later at the Metropolitan Opera
and the response was repeated, "again Chagall was the hero of the evening." Art critic Edwin Denby wrote of the opening for the New York Herald Tribune
that Chagall's work:
Coming to grips with World War IIAfter Chagall returned to New York during 1943, however, current events began to interest him more, and this was represented by his art, where he painted subjects including the Crucifixion
and scenes of war. He learned that the Germans had destroyed the town where he was raised, Vitebsk, and became greatly distressed. He also learned about the Nazi concentration camps. During a speech during February 1944, he described some of his feelings:
In the same speech he credited Soviet Russia with doing the most to save the Jews:
On 2 September 1944, Bella died suddenly due to a virus infection, which was not treated due to the wartime shortage of medicine. As a result, he stopped all work for many months, and when he did resume painting his first pictures were concerned with preserving Bella's memory. Wullschlager writes of the effect on Chagall: "As news poured in through 1945 of the ongoing Holocaust at Nazi concentration camps
, Bella took her place in Chagall's mind with the millions of Jewish victims." He even considered the possibility that their "exile from Europe had sapped her will to live."
After a year of living with his daughter, Ida, and her husband Michel Gordey, he entered into a romance with Virginia Haggard, great-niece of the author Henry Rider Haggard; their relationship endured seven years. They had a child together, David McNeil, born 22 June 1946,; Haggard recalled her "seven years of plenty" with Chagall in her book, My Life with Chagall (Robert Hale, 1986).
A few months after the French succeeded in liberating Paris from Nazi occupation, with the help of the Allied armies, Chagall published a letter in a Paris weekly, "To the Paris Artists":
Post-war yearsBy 1946 his artwork was becoming recognized more widely. The Museum of Modern Art in New York had a large exhibition with 40 years of his work which gave visitors one of the first complete impressions of the changing nature of his art over the years. The war had by then ended and he began making plans to return to Paris. According to Cogniat, "He found he was even more deeply attached than before, not only to the atmosphere of Paris, but to the city itself, to its houses and its views." Chagall summed up his years living in America:
He went back for good during the autumn of 1947, where he attended the opening of the exhibition of his works at the Musée National d'Art Moderne
France (1948–1985)After returning to France he traveled throughout Europe and chose to live in the Côte d'Azur which by that time had become somewhat of an "artistic centre." Matisse lived above Nice
, while Picasso lived in Vallauris
. Although they lived nearby and sometimes worked together, there was artistic rivalry between them as their work was so distinctly different, and they never became long-term friends. According to Picasso's mistress, Françoise Gilot, Picasso still had a great deal of respect for Chagall, and once told her,
During April 1952, Virginia Haggard left Chagall for the photographer Charles Leirens; she went on to become a professional photographer herself.
Chagall's daughter Ida married art historian Franz Meyer during January 1952, and feeling that her father missed the companionship of a woman in his home, introduced him to Valentina (Vava) Brodsky, a woman from a similar Russian Jewish background, who had run a successful millinery business in London. She became his secretary, and after a few months agreed to stay only if Chagall married her. The marriage occurred during July, 1952, – though six years later, when there was conflict between Ida and Vava, "Marc and Vava divorced and immediately remarried under an agreement more favourable to Vava" (Jean-Paul Crespelle: Chagall, l'Amour le Reve et la Vie, quoted by Haggard: My Life with Chagall).
In the years ahead he was able to produce not just paintings and graphic art, but also numerous sculptures and ceramics, including wall tiles, painted vases, plates and jugs. He also began working in larger-scale formats, producing large murals, stained glass windows, mosaics and tapestries.
Ceiling of the Paris Opera (1963)During 1963 Chagall was commissioned to paint the new ceiling for the Paris Opera
, a majestic 19th-century building and national monument. André Malraux
, France's Minister of Culture wanted something unique and decided Chagall would be the ideal artist. However, this choice of artist caused controversy: some objected to having a Russian Jew decorate a French national monument; others disliked the ceiling of the historic building being painted by a modern artist. Some magazines wrote condescending articles about Chagall and Malraux, about which Chagall commented to one writer:
Nonetheless, Chagall continued the project which required the 77-year-old Chagall a year to complete. The final canvas was nearly 2,400 square feet (220 sq. meters) and required 440 pounds of paint. It had five sections which were glued to polyester panels and hoisted up to the 70 feet (21.3 m) ceiling. The images Chagall painted on the canvas paid tribute to the composers Mozart, Wagner, Mussorgsky
, Berlioz and Ravel, as well as to famous actors and dancers.
It was presented to the public on 23 September 1964 in the presence of Malraux and 2,100 invited guests. The Paris correspondent for the New York Times wrote, "For once the best seats were in the uppermost circle: Baal-Teshuva writes:
After the new ceiling was unveiled, "even the bitterest opponents of the commission seemed to fall silent", writes Baal-Teshuva. "Unanimously, the press declared Chagall's new work to be a great contribution to French culture." Malraux later said, "What other living artist could have painted the ceiling of the Paris Opera in the way Chagall did?... He is above all one of the great colourists of our time... many of his canvases and the Opera ceiling represent sublime images that rank among the finest poetry of our time, just as Titian
produced the finest poetry of his day." In Chagall's speech to the audience he explained the meaning of the work:
ColorAccording to Cogniat, in all Chagall's work during all stages of his life, it was his colors which attracted and captured the viewer's attention. During his earlier years his range was limited by his emphasis on form and his pictures never gave the impression of painted drawings. He adds, "The colors are a living, integral part of the picture and are never passively flat, or banal like an afterthought. They sculpt and animate the volume of the shapes... they indulge in flights of fancy and invention which add new perspectives and graduated, blended tones... His colors do not even attempt to imitate nature but rather to suggest movements, planes and rhythms."
He was able to convey striking images using only two or three colors. Cogniat writes, "Chagall is unrivalled in this ability to give a vivid impression of explosive movement with the simplest use of colors..." Throughout his life his colors created a "vibrant atmosphere" which was based on "his own personal vision."
His paintings would later sell for very great prices. During October 2010, for example, his painting "Bestiaire
et Musique," depicting a bride and a fiddler floating in a night sky amid circus performers and animals, "was the star lot" at an auction in Hong Kong. When it sold for $4.1 million, it became the most expensive contemporary Western painting ever sold in Asia.
From life memories to fantasyChagall's early life left him with a "powerful visual memory and a pictorial intelligence", writes Goodman. After living in France and experiencing the atmosphere of artistic freedom, his "vision soared and he created a new reality, one that drew on both his inner and outer worlds." But it was the images and memories of his early years in Belarus that would sustain his art for more than 70 years.
According to Cogniat, there are certain elements in his art that have remained permanent and seen throughout his career. One of those was his choice of subjects and the way they were portrayed. "The most obviously constant element is his gift for happiness and his instinctive compassion, which even in the most serious subjects prevents him from dramatization..." Musicians have been a constant during all stages of his work. After he first got married, "lovers have sought each other, embraced, caressed, floated through the air, met in wreaths of flowers, stretched, and swooped like the melodious passage of their vivid day-dreams. Acrobats contort themselves with the grace of exotic flowers on the end of their stems; flowers and foliage abound everywhere." Wullschlager explains the sources for these images:
Chagall described his love of circus people:
His early pictures were often of the town where he was born and raised, Vitebsk
. Cogniat notes that they are realistic and give the impression of firsthand experience by capturing a moment in time with action, often with a dramatic image. During his later years, as for instance in the "Bible series", subjects were more dramatic. He managed to blend the real with the fantastic, and combined with his use of color the pictures were always at least acceptable if not powerful. He never attempted to present pure reality but always created his atmospheres through fantasy. In all cases Chagall's "most persistent subject is life itself, in its simplicity or its hidden complexity... He presents for our study places, people, and objects from his own life".
Jewish themesAfter absorbing the techniques of Fauvism
, he was able to blend them with his own folkish style. He gave the grim life of Hasidic Jews the "romantic overtones of a charmed world", notes Goodman. It was by combining the aspects of Modernism
with his "unique artistic language", that he was able to catch the attention of critics and collectors throughout Europe. Generally, it was his boyhood of living in a Belarusian provincial town that gave him a continual source of imaginative stimuli. Chagall would become one of many Jewish émigrés who later became noted artists, all of them similarly having once been part of "Russia's most numerous and creative minorities", notes Goodman.
World War I, which ended during 1918, had displaced nearly a million Jews and destroyed what remained of the provincial shtetl
culture that had defined life for most Eastern European Jews for centuries. Goodman notes, "The fading of traditional Jewish society left artists like Chagall with powerful memories that could no longer be fed by a tangible reality. Instead, that culture became an emotional and intellectual source that existed solely in memory and the imagination... So rich had the experience been, it sustained him for the rest of his life." Sweeney adds that "if you ask Chagall to explain his paintings, he would reply, 'I don't understand them at all. They are not literature. They are only pictorial arrangements of images that obsess me..."
During 1948, after returning to France from the U.S. after the war, he saw for himself the destruction that the war had brought to Europe and the Jewish populations. During 1951, as part of a memorial book dedicated to eighty-four Jewish artists who were killed by the Nazis in France, he wrote a poem entitled "For the Slaughtered Artists: 1950", which inspired paintings such as the "Song of David" (see photo):
Lewis writes that Chagall "remains the most important visual artist to have borne witness to the world of East European Jewry... and inadvertently became the public witness of a now vanished civilization." Although Judaism has religious inhibitions about pictorial art of many religious subjects, Chagall managed to use his fantasy images as a form of visual metaphor combined with folk imagery. His "Fiddler on the Roof", for example, combines a folksy village setting with a fiddler as a way to show the Jewish love of music as important to the Jewish spirit.
Art historian Franz Meyer points out that one of the main reasons for the unconventional nature of his work is related to the hassidism which inspired the world of his childhood and youth and had actually impressed itself on most Eastern European Jews since the 18th century. He writes, "For Chagall this is one of the deepest sources, not of inspiration, but of a certain spiritual attitude... the hassidic spirit is still the basis and source of nourishment of his art." In a talk that Chagall gave in 1963 while visiting America, he discussed some of those impressions.
However, Chagall had a complex relationship with Judaism. On the one hand, he credited his Russian Jewish cultural background as being crucial to his artistic imagination. But however ambivalent he was about his religion, he could not avoid drawing upon his Jewish past for artistic material. As an adult, he was not a practicing Jew, but through his paintings and stained glass, he continually tried to suggest a more "universal message", using both Jewish and Christian themes.
Stained glass windowsOne of Chagall's major contributions to art has been his work with stained glass
. This medium allowed him to further express his desire to create intense and fresh colors and had the added benefit of natural light and refraction interacting and constantly changing. Everything from the position where the viewer stood to the weather outside would alter the visual effect. It was not until 1956, when he was nearly 70 years of age, that he designed windows for the church at Assy, his first major project. Then, from 1958 to 1960, he created windows for the Metz Cathedral
Jerusalem Windows (1962)
During 1960, he began creating stained glass
windows for the synagogue of Hebrew University's
Hadassah Medical Center
in Jerusalem. Leymarie writes that "in order to iluminate the synagogue both spiritually and physically", it was decided that the twelve windows, representing the twelve tribes of Israel, were to be filled with stained glass. Chagall envisaged the synagogue as "a crown offered to the Jewish Queen", and the windows as "jewels of translucent fire", she writes. Chagall then devoted the next two years to the task, and upon completion during 1961 the windows were exhibited in Paris and then the Museum of Modern Art in New York. They were installed permanently in Jerusalem during February 1962. Each of the twelve windows is approximately ll feet high and 8 feet (2.4 m) wide, much larger than anything he had done before. Cogniat considers them to be "his greatest work in the field of stained glass", although Virginia Haggard McNeil records Chagall's disappointment that they were to be lit with artificial light, and so would not change according to the conditions of natural light.
French philosopher Gaston Bachelard
commented that "Chagall reads the Bible and suddenly the passages become light." During 1973 Israel released a 12-stamp set with images of the stained-glass windows (see image).
The windows symbolize the twelve tribes of Israel who were blessed by Jacob and Moses in the verses which conclude Genesis and Deuteronomy. In those books, notes Leymarie, "The dying Moses repeated Jacob's solemn act and, in a somewhat different order, also blessed the twelve tribes of Israel who were about to enter the land of Canaan... In the synagogue, where the windows are distributed in the same way, the tribes form a symbolic guard of honor around the tabernacle." Leymarie describes the physical and spiritual significance of the windows:
At the dedication ceremony in 1962, Chagall described his feelings about the windows:
During 1964 Chagall created a stained-glass window, entitled "Peace", for the UN in honor of Dag Hammarskjöld
, the UN's second secretary general who was killed in an airplane crash in Africa during 1961. The window is about 15 feet (4.6 m) wide and 12 feet (3.7 m) high and contains symbols of peace and love along with musical symbols. During 1967 he dedicated a stained-glass window to John D. Rockefeller
in the Union Church of Pocantico Hills, New York.
cathedral in Zurich, Switzerland, founded during 853, is known for its five large stained glass windows created by Chagall during 1967. Each window is 32 feet (9.8 m) tall by 3 foot (0.9144 m) wide. Religion historian James H. Charlesworth notes that it is "surprising how Christian symbols are featured in the works of an artist who comes from a strict and Orthodox Jewish background." He surmises that Chagall, as a result of his Russian background, often used Russian icons in his paintings, with their interpretations of Christian symbols. He explains that his chosen themes were usually derived from biblical stories, and frequently portrayed the "obedience and suffering of God's chosen people." One of the panels depicts Moses receiving the Torah, with rays of light from his head. At the top of another panel is a depiction of Jesus' crucifixion.
St. Stephen's church in Mainz, Germany (1978)
During 1978 he began creating windows for St. Stephen's church in Mainz
, Germany. Today, 200,000 visitors a year visit the church, and "tourists from the whole world pilgrim up St. Stephen's Mount, to see the glowing blue stained glass windows by the artist Marc Chagall", states the city's web site. St. Stephen's is the only German church for which the Chagall has created windows."
The website also notes, "The colours address our vital consciousness directly, because they tell of optimism, hope and delight in life", says Monsignor Klaus Mayer, who imparts Chagall's work in mediations and books. He corresponded with Chagall during 1973, and succeeded in persuading the "master of colour and the biblical message" to create a sign for Jewish-Christian attachment and international understanding. Centuries earlier Mainz had been "the capital of European Jewry", and contained the largest Jewish community in Europe, notes historian John Man. During 1978, at the age of 91, Chagall fitted the first window and eight more followed. Chagall's co artist Charles Marq complemented Chagall's work by adding several stained glass windows using the typical colours of Chagall.
All Saints' Church, Tudeley, UK (1963–1978)
All Saints’ Tudeley
is the only church in the world to have all its twelve windows decorated by Chagall. (The other two religious buildings with complete sets of Chagall windows are the Hadassah Medical Center
synagogue and the Chapel of Le Saillant, Limousin.)
The windows at Tudeley are a memorial tribute to Sarah d'Avigdor-Goldsmid who died during 1963 aged just 21 in a sailing accident off Rye. Sarah was the daughter of Sir Henry d'Avigdor-Goldsmid
and Lady Rosemary who commissioned Chagall to design the magnificent east window, which was installed during 1967.
During the next 15 years, Chagall designed the remaining windows, again made in collaboration with the glassworker Charles Marq in his workshop at Reims in northern France.
Murals, theater sets and costumesChagall first worked on stage designs during 1914 while living in Russia. It was during this period in the Russian theatre that formerly static ideas of stage design were, according to Cogniat, "being swept away in favor of a wholly arbitrary sense of space with different dimensions, perspectives, colors and rhythms." These changes appealed to Chagall who had been experimenting with Cubism and wanted a way to enliven his images. Designing murals and stage designs, Chagall's "dreams sprang to life and became an actual movement."
As a result, Chagall played an important role in Russian artistic life during that time and "was one of the most important forces in the current urge towards anti-realism" which helped the new Russia invent "astonishing" creations. Many of his designs were done for the Jewish Theatre in Moscow which put on numerous Jewish plays by playwrights such as Gogol and Singe
. Chagall's set designs helped create illusory atmospheres which became the essence of the theatrical performances.
After leaving Russia, twenty years passed before he was again offered a chance to design theatre sets. In the years between, his paintings still included harlequins, clowns and acrobats, which Cogniat notes "convey his sentimental attachment to and nostalgia for the theatre." His first assignment designing sets after Russia was for the ballet "Aleko" during 1942, while living in America. During 1945 he was also commissioned to design the sets and costumes for Stravinsky's "The Firebird." These designs contributed greatly towards his enhanced reputation in America as a major artist.
Cogniat describes how Chagall's designs "immerse the spectator in a luminous, colored fairy-land where forms are mistily defined and the spaces themselves seem animated with whirlwinds or explosions." His technique of using theatrical color in this way reached its peak when Chagall returned to Paris and designed the sets for Ravel's "Daphnis and Chloë
" during 1958.
During 1964 he repainted the ceiling of the Paris Opera
using 2400 square feet (223 m²) of canvas, and during 1966 he painted two monumental murals for the outside of the Metropolitan Opera
in New York. The pieces were titled "the Sources of Music" and "The Triumph of Music", which he completed in France and shipped to New York.
, who also collaborated with Picasso. These tapestries are much rarer than his paintings, with only 40 of them ever reaching the commercial market. Chagall designed three tapestries for the state hall of the Knesset
in Israel, along with 12 floor mosaics and a wall mosaic.
Ceramics and sculptureChagall began learning about ceramics and sculpture while living in south France. Ceramics became a fashion in the Côte d'Azur with various workshops starting up at Antibes, Vence and Vallauris. He took classes along with other known artists including Picasso and Fernand Léger
. At first Chagall painted existing pieces of pottery but soon expanded into designing his own, which began his work as a sculptor as a compliment to his painting.
After experimenting with pottery and dishes he moved into large ceramic murals. However, he was never satisfied with the limits imposed by the square tile segments which Cogniat notes "imposed on him a discipline which prevented the creation of a plastic image."
Final years and deathAuthor Serena Davies writes that "By the time he died in France in 1985—- the last surviving master of European modernism, outliving Joan Miró
by two years—- he had experienced at first hand the high hopes and crushing disappointments of the Russian revolution, and had witnessed the end of the Pale
, the near annihilation of European Jewry, and the obliteration of Vitebsk, his home town, where only 118 of a population of 240,000 survived the Second World War."
His relationship with his Jewish identity was "unresolved and tragic", Davies states. He would have died without Jewish rites, had not a Jewish stranger stepped forward and said the kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, over his coffin.
Legacy and influenceChagall biographer Jackie Wullschlager terms Chagall a "pioneer of modern art and one of its greatest figurative painters... [who] invented a visual language that recorded the thrill and terror of the twentieth century." She adds:
Art historians Ingo Walther and Rainer Metzger refer to Chagall as a "poet, dreamer, and exotic apparition." They add that throughout his long life the "role of outsider and artistic eccentric" came naturally to him, as he seemed to be a kind of intermediary between worlds: "as a Jew with a lordly disdain for the ancient ban on image-making; as a Russian who went beyond the realm of familiar self-sufficiency; or the son of poor parents, growing up in a large and needy family." Yet he went on to establish himself in the sophisticated world of "elegant artistic salons."
Through his imagination and strong memories Chagall was able to use typical motifs and subjects in most of his work: village scenes, peasant life, and intimate views of the small world of the Jewish village (shtetl
). His tranquil figures and simple gestures helped produce a "monumental sense of dignity" by translating everyday Jewish rituals into a "timeless realm of iconic peacefulness." Leymarie writes that Chagall "transcended the limits of his century. He has unveiled possibilities unsuspected by an art that had lost touch with the Bible, and in doing so he has achieved a wholly new synthesis of Jewish culture long ignored by painting." He adds that although Chagall's art cannot be confined to religion, his "most moving and original contributions, what he called 'his message,' are those drawn from religious or, more precisely, Biblical sources."
Walther and Metzger try to summarize Chagall's contribution to art:
Exhibitions and tributes
- In 1960, Brandeis University awarded Marc Chagall an honorary degree in Laws, at its 9th Commencement.
- In 1967, the LouvreLouvreThe Musée du Louvre – in English, the Louvre Museum or simply the Louvre – is one of the world's largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world and a historic monument. A central landmark of Paris, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement...
in Paris exhibited 17 large-scale paintings and 38 gouaches, under the title of "Message Biblique", which he donated to the nation of France on condition that a museum was to be built for them in Nice. During 1969 work began on the museum, named Musée National Message Biblique Marc Chagall. It was completed and inaugurated on 7 July 1973, on Chagall's birthday. Today it contains monumental paintings on biblical themes, three stained-glass windows, tapestries, a large mosaic and numerous gouaches for the "Bible series."
- From 1969 to 1970, the Grand PalaisGrand PalaisThis article contains material abridged and translated from the French and Spanish Wikipedia.The Grand Palais des Champs-Elysées, commonly known as the Grand Palais , is a large historic site, exhibition hall and museum complex located at the Champs-Élysées in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, France...
in Paris held the largest Chagall exhibition to date, including 474 works. The exhibition was called "Hommage a Marc Chagall", was opened by the French President and "proved an enormous success with the public and critics alike."
- During 1973, he traveled to the Soviet Union, his first visit back since he left during 1922. The Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow had a special exhibition for the occasion of his visit. He was able to see again the murals he long ago made for the Jewish Theatre. In St. Petersburg, he was reunited with two of his sisters, whom he had not seen for more than 50 years.
- During 1977, the city of Jerusalem bestowed upon him the Yakir YerushalayimYakir YerushalayimYakir Yerushalayim is an annual citizenship prize in Jerusalem, Israel, inaugurated in 1967.The prize is awarded annually by the municipality of the City of Jerusalem to one or more residents of the city who have contributed to the cultural and educational life of the city in some outstanding way....
(Worthy Citizen of Jerusalem) award.
- During 1982, in Stockholm, Sweden the Moderna Museet organized a retrospective exhibition which later traveled to Denmark.
- During 1985, the Royal Academy in London presented a major retrospective which later relocated to Philadelphia. Chagall was too old to attend the London opening and died a few months later.
- During 2003, a major retrospective of Chagall's career was organized by the Réunion des Musées Nationaux, Paris, in conjunction with the Musée National Message Biblique Marc Chagall, Nice, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern ArtSan Francisco Museum of Modern ArtThe San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is a modern art museum located in San Francisco, California. A nonprofit organization, SFMOMA holds an internationally recognized collection of modern and contemporary art and was the first museum on the West Coast devoted solely to 20th century art...
Postage stamp tributes
Because of the international acclaim he enjoyed and the popularity of his art, a number of countries have issued commemorative stamps in his honor depicting examples from his works. During 1963 France issued a stamp of his painting, "The Married Couple of the Eiffel Tower." Israel, during 1969 produced a stamp depicting his "King David" painting. And during 1973 Israel released a 12-stamp set with images of the stained-glass windows that he created for the Hadassah Hebrew University Medical Center Synagogue. Each window was made to signify one of the "Twelve Tribes of Israel".
During 1987, as a tribute to recognize the centennial of his birth in Belarus, seven nations engaged in a special omnibus program and released potage stamps in his honor. The countries which issued the stamps included Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, The Gambia, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Grenada, which together produced 48 stamps and 10 souvenir sheets. Although the stamps all portray his various masterpieces, the names of the artwork are not listed on the stamps.
- Chagall's work is housed in a variety of locations, including the 'Palais GarnierPalais GarnierThe Palais Garnier, , is an elegant 1,979-seat opera house, which was built from 1861 to 1875 for the Paris Opera. It was originally called the Salle des Capucines because of its location on the Boulevard des Capucines in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, but soon became known as the Palais Garnier...
' (the Opera de Paris), the Art Institute of Chicago, Chase Tower PlazaChase Tower (Chicago)Chase Tower, located in the Chicago Loop area of Chicago at 10 South Dearborn Street, is a 60 story skyscraper completed in 1969. At 850 feet tall, it is the tenth tallest building in Chicago, the tallest building inside the Chicago 'L' Loop elevated tracks, and the 32nd tallest in the United...
of downtown Chicago, the Metropolitan OperaMetropolitan OperaThe Metropolitan Opera is an opera company, located in New York City. Originally founded in 1880, the company gave its first performance on October 22, 1883. The company is operated by the non-profit Metropolitan Opera Association, with Peter Gelb as general manager...
, the Metz CathedralMetz CathedralSaint Étienne de Metz , also known as Metz Cathedral) is a Gothic, Catholic cathedral in the city of Metz, capital of Lorraine, France...
, Notre-Dame de Reims, the FraumünsterFraumünsterThe Fraumünster abbey in Zurich was founded in 853 by Louis the German for his daughter Hildegard. He endowed the Benedictine convent with the lands of Zurich, Uri, and the Albis forest, and granted the convent immunity, placing it under his direct authority.- History :In 1045, King Henry III...
abbey in ZürichZürichZurich is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zurich. It is located in central Switzerland at the northwestern tip of Lake Zurich...
, Switzerland, the Church of St. Stephan in MainzMainzMainz under the Holy Roman Empire, and previously was a Roman fort city which commanded the west bank of the Rhine and formed part of the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire...
, Germany and the Biblical Message museum in Nice, France, which Chagall helped to design.
- The only church in the world with a complete set of Chagall window-glass is located in the tiny village of TudeleyTudeleythumb|Chagall windowTudeley is a small village near Tonbridge Kent in South East England.It is the location of All Saints' church, the only church in the world that has all its windows in stained glass designed by Marc Chagall.The East window...
, in KentKentKent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...
- Twelve stained-glass windows are part of Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem in Jerusalem, Israel. Each frame depicts a different tribe.
- In the United States, the Union Church of Pocantico Hills contains a set of Chagall windows commemorating the prophets, which was commissioned by John D. Rockefeller, Jr.John D. Rockefeller, Jr.John Davison Rockefeller, Jr. was a major philanthropist and a pivotal member of the prominent Rockefeller family. He was the sole son among the five children of businessman and Standard Oil industrialist John D. Rockefeller and the father of the five famous Rockefeller brothers...
- The Lincoln Center in New York City, contains Chagall's huge muralMuralA mural is any piece of artwork painted or applied directly on a wall, ceiling or other large permanent surface. A particularly distinguishing characteristic of mural painting is that the architectural elements of the given space are harmoniously incorporated into the picture.-History:Murals of...
s; The Sources of Music and The Triumph of Music are installed in the lobby of the new Metropolitan OperaMetropolitan OperaThe Metropolitan Opera is an opera company, located in New York City. Originally founded in 1880, the company gave its first performance on October 22, 1883. The company is operated by the non-profit Metropolitan Opera Association, with Peter Gelb as general manager...
House, which began operation during 1966. Also in New York, the United NationsUnited Nations Art CollectionThe United Nations Art Collection is a collective group of artworks and historic objects donated as gifts to the United Nations by its member states, associations, or individuals...
Headquarters has a stained glassStained glassThe term stained glass can refer to coloured glass as a material or to works produced from it. Throughout its thousand-year history, the term has been applied almost exclusively to the windows of churches and other significant buildings...
wall of his work. In 1967 the UN commemorated this artwork with a postage stampPostage stampA postage stamp is a small piece of paper that is purchased and displayed on an item of mail as evidence of payment of postage. Typically, stamps are made from special paper, with a national designation and denomination on the face, and a gum adhesive on the reverse side...
and souvenir sheet.
- During 2007, an exhibitionArt exhibitionArt exhibitions are traditionally the space in which art objects meet an audience. The exhibit is universally understood to be for some temporary period unless, as is rarely true, it is stated to be a "permanent exhibition". In American English, they may be called "exhibit", "exposition" or...
of his work titled "Chagall of Miracles", was held at Il Complesso del Vittoriano in Rome, Italy.
- The family home on Pokrovskaya Street, VitebskVitebskVitebsk, also known as Viciebsk or Vitsyebsk , is a city in Belarus, near the border with Russia. The capital of the Vitebsk Oblast, in 2004 it had 342,381 inhabitants, making it the country's fourth largest city...
, is now the Marc Chagall Museum.
- The regional art museum in NovosibirskNovosibirskNovosibirsk is the third-largest city in Russia, after Moscow and Saint Petersburg, and the largest city of Siberia, with a population of 1,473,737 . It is the administrative center of Novosibirsk Oblast as well as of the Siberian Federal District...
had a Chagall exhibition on his biblical subjects between 16 June 2010 and 29 August 2010.
- The Museum of Biblical Art in Dallas, Texas currently hosts many of his works as well.
- The Marc Chagall Yufuin Kinrin-ko Museum in Yufuin, Kyushu, Japan, holds about 40-50 of his works.
- Official site of Marc Chagall Museum in Vitebsk, Belarus
- Official site of Marc Chagall Museum in Nice, France
- Marc Chagall at the Jewish Museum New York
- Marc Chagall at the Israel MuseumIsrael MuseumThe Israel Museum, Jerusalem was founded in 1965 as Israel's national museum. It is situated on a hill in the Givat Ram neighborhood of Jerusalem, near the Bible Lands Museum, the Knesset, the Israeli Supreme Court, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem....
- Pictures of: Me and My Village, Self-Portrait with Seven Fingers, and Chagall's illustrations to the Bible: Song of Songs III (1960), Jacob's Dream (1954–67), Adam and Eve Expelled from Paradise (1954–67), and Abraham and the Three Angels (1954–67)
- Union List of Artist Names, Getty Vocabularies. ULAN Full Record Display for Marc Chagall. Getty Vocabulary Program, Getty Research Institute. Los Angeles, California.
- Marc Chagall - paintings, biography, photos
- Jerusalem Windows 3 min.
- Slideshow 8 min., music by Itzhak PerlmanItzhak PerlmanItzhak Perlman is an Israeli-born violinist, conductor, and instructor of master classes. He is regarded as one of the pre-eminent violinists of the 20th and early-21st centuries.-Early life:...
- Slideshow 10 min. with modern music
- Chagall windows in Jerusalem Israel, 1.5 min. with music
- "Shagal's Passion" Russian-made animation about Chagall, 7 minutes with European music
- "Fiddler on the Roof" painting animated 1 min.
- Slideshow – early memories and village scenes 6 min. with classical piano
- Slideshow 6 min., with classical music
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnRzgdBjExYSlideshow – Daphnis and ChloeDaphnis and ChloeDaphnis and Chloe is the only known work of the 2nd century AD Greek novelist and romancer Longus.-Setting and style:It is set on the isle of Lesbos during the 2nd century AD, which is also assumed to be the author's home. Its style is rhetorical and pastoral; its shepherds and shepherdesses are...
lithographs] France, 8 min., music by Ravel