|Expertise||Painting Expertise 2: Stained glass|
Marc Zaharovich Chagall, born Moishe Shegal, was a Jewish painter and European Modernist who spent most of his life in France and Russia. He was exiled to the United States during World War II.
Born in Russia to a poor, Hassidic family, Chagall began studying portrait painting in his home city, later moving to St. Petersburg to further his studies. Before he left Russia for Paris, Chagall met and married Bella Rosenfeld, who would remain his muse until the end of his life. During World War II, Marc and Bella Chagall fled to the United States and lived in New York in exile until Paris was liberated from the Nazis. However, Bella died of sepsis before they were able to return to Europe, and so Chagall stayed in New York longer than expected to mourn.
In 1907, Marc Chagall, then known by his birth name of Moishe Segal, left his childhood home for St. Petersburg to study art and absorb the culture. His early works like Birth and The Deaf featured happy, bright images of everyday life. Throughout his lifetime, Chagall incorporated Jewish and biblical themes in his work, putting himself at risk during such an anti-Semitic era. Chagall moved to Paris to continue his studies, and there he created magical, nostalgic images with brilliant color, such as Jacob’s Dream. He exhibited and sold many of his Cubist paintings in Paris and Berlin before war kept him away from Paris for the first time, during World War I. During World War II, the US protected many European artists under the Emergency Committee to Save European Jewry, resulting in an increased American interest in European art. Marc Chagall worked on unfinished paintings he had brought with him from Europe, including The Juggler. Henri Matisse’s son Pierre exhibited Marc Chagall’s work in Pierre’s New York gallery, and Chagall was a success in New York, selling enough work to make him wealthy. Later in life, he was commissioned to create several large art installments, including painting the ceiling of the Paris Opera (1964), stained glass windows for the synagogue of the Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem (1962), stained glass windows for the United Nations building in New York (1964), stained glass windows for the cathedral in Metz, France (1968), and murals for the Metropolitan Opera House in New York (1967).
- Chagall died when he was 97 years old, after a full day of work in his studio.
- Chagall was hired to paint scenery and sets for a ballet. He was fired, and Pablo Picasso was hired to replace him.
- The Surrealists tried to claim Chagall as one of their own. He refused.