Marc Chagall: Artist Portrait

Marc Chagall

Born 1887. Died 1985.

Marc Chagall Biography

A Belorussian-born French painter, printmaker and designer, Marc Chagall created a singularly poetic figurative oeuvre full of rich colours and dreamlike imagery – flying lovers, massive bouquets, melancholy clowns, fantastic animals, lonely fiddlers and vibrant hearts – that made him one of the most popular Western artists of the 20th century.

Born on 7 July 1887, in Vitebsk, in the Russian Empire, Chagall grew up among a devout Jewish community. After learning the elements of drawing at a local school and studying painting in St. Petersburg, he moved to Paris in 1910, befriending such audacious young painters as Expressionist Chaim Soutine and Cubists Fernand Léger and André Lhote, while absorbing the rich hues of the Impressionist, post-Impressionist and Fauvist paintings popular at the time. Responding to these stimuli, Chagall produced works such as I and the Village, 1911, The Fiddler, 1912, and Paris Through the Window, 1913, essentially establishing the whimsical and emotional vocabulary that would characterize his art of the next 60 years.

If the development of his career and the vagaries of two World Wars forced Chagall to move repeatedly between France, Germany and Russia while also spending time in the US, in his private life he experienced two great loves: one, lasting more than 30 years, with Bella Rosenfeld, who appeared in myriad paintings from Birthday, 1915–23, to Around Her, 1945; the other, with Valentina Brodsky, who was featured in several of his later portraits. The artist died in Saint-Paul-de-Vence on the French Riviera, where he had settled with Brodsky.

Chagall’s six-panel stained-glass installation American Windows is permanently on view at the Art Institute of Chicago . His works can also be found in the collections of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum , New York. According to Sotheby’s Mei Moses, the average compound annual return for Chagall resold at auction between 2003 and 2017 was 6.8% and 85.0% of 294 such works increased in value.

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Artist Image: © The Estate of Marc Chagall / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris 2018