Marc Chagall was born on 7 July 1887, in Vitebsk, Russia (now Belarus). The eldest son in a Hasidic Jewish family, the religion of his upbringing as well as his Belarusian heritage influenced Chagall’s art throughout his career. From 1907 to 1910, he studied in St. Petersburg, at the Imperial Society for the Protection of the Arts and later with Léon Bakst. During this period, Chagall encountered experimental art, poetry and theatre, and was particularly taken by the work of the Post-Impressionists, such as Paul Gauguin. In 1910, he moved to Paris, where he associated with Guillaume Apollinaire and Robert Delaunay and encountered Fauvism and Cubism. He participated in the Salon des Indépendants and the Salon d’Automne in 1912. His first solo show was held in 1914 at Der Sturm gallery in Berlin.
Shortly before the outbreak of the First World War, Chagall returned to Vitebsk, where he was appointed Commissar for Art in 1918. He founded the Vitebsk Popular Art School and directed it until disagreements with the Suprematists resulted in his resignation in 1920. In 1921, Chagall moved to Moscow and was commissioned to produce the first stage designs for the newly opening State Jewish Chamber Theatre. In 1923, Chagall returned to Paris via Berlin and met Ambroise Vollard, for whom he produced numerous book illustrations. His first retrospective took place in 1924 at the Galerie Barbazanges-Hodebert, Paris. During the 1930s, he traveled to Palestine, the Netherlands, Spain, Poland, and Italy. In 1933, the Kunsthalle Basel held a major retrospective of his work.
During World War II, Chagall fled to the United States, settling in the Jewish Quarter in New York. He produced acclaimed stage designs for the New York Ballet and in 1946, the Museum of Modern Art gave him a retrospective. He returned to France permanently in 1948, settling in the Côte d'Azur and exhibited in Paris, Amsterdam, and London. During 1951, he visited Israel and executed his first sculptures. The following year, the artist travelled in Greece and Italy. During the 1960s, Chagall continued to travel widely, often in association with large-scale commissions he received. Among these were windows for the synagogue of the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center, Jerusalem, installed in 1962; a ceiling for the Paris Opéra, installed in 1964; a window for the United Nations building, New York, also installed in 1964; murals for the Metropolitan Opera House, New York, installed in 1967; and windows for the cathedral in Metz, France, installed in 1968. An exhibition of the artist’s work from 1967 to 1977 was held at the Musée du Louvre, Paris, in 1977-78. Chagall died on 28 March 1985 in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France.
Chagall’s work can be found in the following selected international collections: the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; the State Hermitage, St. Petersburg; the Albertina, Vienna; the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice; Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Tate Collection, London.
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