Independent Gallery


Marc Chagall

Marc Chagall b.Vitsyebsk 1887-1985 Saint-Paul de Vence

Recognized as one of the most significant painters and printmakers of the twentieth century, Moishe Zakharovich Shagalov (Moishe Segal) was the eldest of nine children of a poor but close-knit Jewish family. References to this early period of his life recur throughout his work but totally neglect the turmoil that he must have experienced. Instead he treats subjects with gentle humour and a fantasy that draws deeply both on his religious background and the resources of the surreal. Chagall’s personal and very unique imagery is suffused with exquisite poetic inspiration.

He moved to St Petersburg to study painting in 1907. In 1910 he was sponsored by his patron to visit Paris. There he associated with artists of the avant-garde, Fauves and Cubists, although was never to become part of any movement.

A supporter of the Russian Revolution, he became Minister for Fine Arts for Vitsyebsk setting up the Art Academy in 1917.  As artistic director of the Moscow Jewish State Theatre from 1919 until 1922, as well as designing the sets for numerous productions, Chagall painted murals in the lobby.

In 1922 he left for Berlin where he was initiated into the art of engraving and during the following year he arrived in Paris. There the art dealer Ambroise Vollard gave him a steady stream of commissions that tested his recently acquired skills including La Fontaine’s Fables, a controversial choice at the time for a such classic work of French literature.

Despite the dire situation in France, he remained there until 1941 when he emigrated to the United States. and lived there until 1948. He produced his first suite of colour lithographs in New York, Four Tales from The Arabian Nights for which he was awarded the graphic prize at the Venice Biennale.

Chagall involved himself in large-scale projects including a canvas that completely covers the ceiling at the Paris Opera in Paris, and two large murals that hang in the lobby of the Metropolitan Opera House, New York