„Když Chagall maluje, nikdo neví, zda spí nebo bdí. Určitě má někde v hlavě anděla.“ Pablo Picasso
Básník snů a lásek - Dr.Vilém Stránský
Marc Chagall (1887-1985) je bezesporu - s Pablem Picassem - nejvýraznější postavou světového moderního umění. O
„Když Chagall maluje, nikdo neví, zda spí nebo bdí. Určitě má někde v hlavě anděla.“ Pablo Picasso
Básník snů a lásek - Dr.Vilém Stránský
Marc Chagall (1887-1985) je bezesporu - s Pablem Picassem - nejvýraznější postavou světového moderního umění. Oba měli vedle své bezmezné geniality společnou i nesmírnou pracovitost a udivující dlouhověkost - mladší Picasso odešel v dvaadevadesáti a Chagall žil a tvořil(!) ještě o pět let déle.
Zcela nezařaditelný Marc Chagall bývá oslavován a ctěn především pro překypující obrazotvornost, uměleckou hravost a snovost, pro jedinečnou kombinaci klasické mytologie, židovského resp. biblického mysticismu, venkovského i městského folklóru. Vytvořil vlastní ráj na zemi: ozdobil svět snovými obrazy a kyticemi květů, zalidnil jej muzikanty, cirkusáky, tanečníky a dvojicemi milenců, vznášejícími se spolu s koňmi, kozami, kohouty, krávami i anděly.
Za svoji grafickou techniku si po leptu Marc Chagall zvolil litografii. Jako jeden z mála umělců kreslil v litografické dílně přímo na kámen. I z tohoto důvodu nejsou kvalitativní rozdíly mezi jeho malbou a tiskem z plochy; z Chagallových barevných litografií je jakoby cítit olejová pastóznost a malířská monumentálnost.
Od roku 1950 všechny Chagallovy litografie bravurně tiskl nejuznávanější světový litograf Fernand Mourlot. Tento „rolls-royce“ mezi tiskaři se zapsal do análů umělecké historie spoluprací snad se všemi předními tvůrci moderního umění XX. století. V pařížské Rue de Chabrol, v litografické dílně Mourlot Frères, po celá desetiletí vytvářeli osobnosti jako Braque, Bonnard, Buffet, Cocteau, Delvaux, Derain, Dufy, Ernst, Giacometti, Léger, Masson, Matisse, Miró, Picasso, Vasarely, Wunderlich a další mnohobarevná litografická kouzla ohromující kulturní svět. Mourlot však nebyl jen skvělý tiskař, ale i věhlasný nakladatel a organizátor. Nedocenitelné jsou jím editované soupisy děl např. Bernarda Buffeta, Joana Miró a Pabla Picassa. Samozřejmě je i autorem kompletního šestidílného soupisu litografií Marka Chagalla.
Biblické poselství se stalo Chagallovým celoživotním tématem. Až v roce 1956 dokončil Chagall práci, kterou začal v roce 1930 na podnět světoznámého sběratele a nakladatele Ambroise Vollarda; výsledkem byla Bible s 105 lepty, vzniklými mezi lety 1930-55. Leptům však scházela Chagallem tolik cítěná barva. Proto v roce 1956 vydal Ilustrace k Bibli s 30 původními litografiemi (16 barevných, 12 černobílých plus litografická obálka a titulní strana); heliograficky zde bylo vytištěno i všech 105 biblických leptů. Po ohromném úspěchu na trhu s uměním vyšlo o čtyři roky později pokračování biblických příběhů: Kresby k Bibli (Dessins pour la Bible). Nové album tentokráte obsahovalo 51 původních litografií (24 barevných, 26 černobílých plus litografická obálka). Kolekci doplnilo 96 heliografií akvarelů k danému tématu. Zvláštností obou grafických alb je, že černobílé linkové litografie jsou vytištěny jako skicy na zadních stranách celostránkových barev, takže na jediném listu jsou dvě litografie (což je oříšek pro adjustaci). Dokonalý soutisk pětadvaceti i více barev není v tomto cyklu výjimkou! Barevné strany byly Markem Chagallem vzácně signovány.
Na celku 81 biblických litografiích (43+38) strávil tento „vitebský Francouz“ více než pět let usilovné práce, nepočítaje studijní návštěvy Palestiny, Jeruzaléma a Egypta. Jeho snažení se stalo základem k dalším významným dílům s biblickými motivy, ať již v litografiích, olejích, nástropních malbách či vitrážích.
Marc Chagall po sobě zanechal ohromnou řadu vrcholných děl nebývalé umělecké hodnoty a nevyčíslitelné ceny. Sběratelsky vyhledávaný cyklus biblických litografií patří bez nadsázky k tomu nejlepšímu, co tento básník snů a lásek během devadesáti sedmi let vytvořil.
Cyklus Ilustrace k Bibli je uveden v soupisu umělcova díla pod čísly 117-146 (in: Fernand Mourlot: Lithographe, ed. André Sauret 1960). Cyklus Kresby k Bibli je uveden v soupisu umělcova díla pod čísly 230-280 (in: Fernand Mourlot: Lithographe II. 1957-1962, ed. André Sauret 1963).
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Chagall Marc (Šagal), *1890, rus. malíř. Po impresionist. počátcích v Petrohr. přišel 1910 do Paříže a včlenil se záhy výrazně v hnutí Nezávislých. 1914 se vrátil do Rus., přečkal tam válku a v době rev. (1918) zal. ve Vitebsku svobodnou malíř. akad. Pokus o realisaci kolektiv. umění proletářského, které by stálo ve službě denních život. potřeb, ztroskotal po několikaletém úsilí, byv nesprávně ideologicky fundován (ruskinism); 1923 se vrátil Ch. zpět do záp. Evr. a do oblasti individualist. tvorby. Po přechodném pobytu v Berlíně žije trvale v Paříži. - Již v poč. období tvorby jeví Ch. neobyč. osobitost, danou jeho slovan. a žid. původem. Přejal mnoho z úsilí fauvismu, kubismu i futurismu, ale nedává se spoutat doktrinou. Zná kouzlo naivity starých rus. ikon a ověřuje si je dílem celníka Rousseaua. Vidí svět jako dětskou pohádku a raduje se z toho s futuristickou nevázaností: milenci v oblacích, izvozčíci, andělé, vsi, dobytek, květiny, žid. hřbitovy, ptáci, kostely a akrobati prolínají se v Ch-ových obrazech bez ohledu na úměrnost proporcí a logiku stavby. Ch. měl patrný vliv na něm. expresionisty; i hnutí dadaisticko-surrealistické vzalo od něho nejeden impuls. Význač. díla: Já a vesnice; Rusko 1911-12, Rabín 1914, Výročí; Básník 1915, Promenáda 1917, Muzikant 1920, Dvojportret 1924, Na oslu 1925, Cirkus; Květiny a krajina 1926. Akrobat 1927. - 1917 navrhl dekorace ke Gogolovi pro Židovské div. v Moskvě, 1902 monument. nástěnné malby pro foyer Komorního div. tamtéž. - Knižní ilustrace ke Gogolovým Mrtvým duším, k M. Arlandově knize Maternité; k La Fontainovým Bajkám (barevné guaše). Kromě toho album rytin Můj život a Sedm smrtelných hříchů s textem sedmi mod. spis. - Srv.: Efross-Tugenhold, Marc Ch., 1921, monogr. dále napsali Däubler, With, Aronson, George a Salmon. Hs.
(In: Ottův slovník naučný nové doby)
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Belorussian-born French painter, printmaker, and designer whose works combine images from personal experience with formal symbolic and aesthetic elements by virtue of their inner poetic force, rather than by rules of pictorial logic. Preceding Surrealism, his early works, such as I and the Village (1911), were among the first expressions of psychic reality in modern art. His works in various mediums include sets for plays and ballets, etchings illustrating the Bible, and stained-glass windows.
Chagall was born in a small city in the western Russian Empire not far from the Polish frontier. His family, which included eight children besides himself, was devoutly Jewish and, like the majority of the some 20,000 Jews in Vitebsk, humble without being poverty-stricken; the father worked in a herring warehouse, and the mother ran a shop where she sold fish, flour, sugar, and spices. The boy attended the heder, the Jewish elementary school, and later on he went to the local public school, where instruction was in Russian. After learning the elements of drawing at school, he studied painting in the studio of a local realist, Jehuda Pen, and in 1907 went to St. Petersburg, where he studied intermittently for three years, eventually under Léon Bakst, who at the time was beginning a brilliant career as a stage designer. Characteristic works of this period of early maturity are the nightmarish The Dead Man (1908), in which a roof violinist is already present, and My Fiancée with Black Gloves (1909), in which a portrait becomes an occasion for experimenting with an arrangement in black and white.
In 1910, with a living allowance provided by a St. Petersburg patron, Chagall went to Paris. After a year and a half in rooms in Montparnasse, he moved into a studio on the edge of town in the ramshackle settlement for bohemian artists that was known as La Ruche ("the Beehive"). He met the avant-garde poets Blaise Cendrars, Max Jacob, and Guillaume Apollinaire, as well as a number of young painters destined to become famous: the Expressionist Chaim Soutine, the abstract colourist Robert Delaunay, and the Cubists Albert Gleizes, Jean Metzinger, Fernand Léger, and André Lhote. In such company nearly every sort of pictorial audacity was encouraged, and Chagall responded to the stimulus by rapidly developing the poetic and seemingly irrational tendencies he had begun to display in Russia. At the same time, under the influence of the Impressionist, Postimpressionist, and Fauvist pictures he saw in Paris museums and commercial galleries, he gave up the usually sombre palette he had employed at home.
The four years of this first stay in the French capital are often considered his best phase. Representative works are the Self-Portrait with Seven Fingers (1912), I and the Village (1911), Hommage à Apollinaire (1911-12), Calvary (1912), The Fiddler (1912), and Paris Through the Window (1913). In these pictures Chagall was already, in essentials, the artist he would continue to be for the next 60 years. His colours, although occasionally thin, are beginning to have their eventually characteristic complexity and resonance. The often whimsical figurative elements, frequently upside down, are distributed on the canvas in an arbitrary fashion, producing an effect that sometimes resembles a film montage and can suggest, as it is evidently intended to, the inner space of a reverie. The general atmosphere can imply a Yiddish joke, a Russian fairy tale, or a vaudeville turn. Often the principal personage is the romantically handsome, curly-headed, rather Oriental-looking young painter himself. Memories of childhood and of Vitebsk are already one of the main sources for imagery.
After exhibiting in the annual Paris Salon des Indépendants and Salon d'Automne, Chagall had his first one-man show in Berlin in 1914, in the gallery of the modernist publication Der Sturm, and made a strong impression on German Expressionist circles. After visiting the exhibition, he went on to Vitebsk, where he was caught by the outbreak of World War I. Working for the moment in a relatively realistic style, he painted local scenes and a series of studies of old men; examples of the series are The Praying Jew (or The Rabbi of Vitebsk; 1914) and Jew in Green (1914). In 1915 he married Bella Rosenfeld, the daughter of a wealthy Vitebsk merchant; among the many paintings in which she appears from this date onward are the depiction of flying lovers entitled Birthday (1915-23) and the high-spirited, acrobatic Double Portrait with a Glass of Wine (1917).
The Russian Revolution of October 1917 found Chagall at first enthusiastic; he became commissar for art in the Vitebsk region and launched into ambitious projects for a local academy and museum. But after two and a half years of intense activity, marked by increasingly bitter aesthetic and political quarrels, he gave up and moved to Moscow. There he turned his attention for a while to the stage, producing the sets and costumes for plays by the Jewish writer Sholem Aleichem and murals for the Kamerny Theatre. In 1922 he left Russia for good, going first to Berlin, where he discovered that a large number of the pictures he had left behind in 1914 had disappeared. In 1923, this time with a wife and daughter, he settled once again in Paris.
Chagall had learned the techniques of engraving while in Berlin. Through his friend Cendrars he met the Paris art dealer Ambroise Vollard, who immediately commissioned a series of etchings to illustrate a special edition of Nikolay Gogol's novel Dead Souls and thus launched Chagall on a long career as a printmaker. During the next three years, 107 full-page plates for the Gogol book were executed. But by then Vollard had arrived at another idea: an edition of Jean de La Fontaine's Fables with coloured illustrations resembling 18th-century prints. Chagall prepared 100 gouaches for reproduction, but it soon became evident that his colours were too complex for the printing process envisaged, and so he switched to black-and-white etchings, completing the plates in 1931. By this time Vollard had come up with still another idea: a series of etchings illustrating the Bible. Sixty-six plates were completed by Chagall by 1939, when World War II and the death of Vollard halted work on the project; after the war the total was raised to 105. The Paris publisher E. Tériade, picking up at the many places where Vollard had left off, brought out Dead Souls in 1948 (with 11 more etchings for the chapter headings, making 118 in all), La Fontaine's Fables in 1952 (with two cover etchings, making 102 in all), and the Bible in 1956. Along with these much delayed ventures, Chagall was the producer of a number of smaller collections of engravings, many single plates, and an impressive quantity of coloured lithographs and monotypes.
During the 1920s and the early '30s, his painting declined in the total of large canvases turned out and also, in the opinion of many critics, in quality; at any rate it became more obviously poetical and more and more popular with the general public. Examples are the Bride and Groom with Eiffel Tower (1928) and The Circus (1931). With the rise of Adolf Hitler, however, and the growing threat of a new world conflict, the artist began to have visions of a very different sort, which are reflected in the powerful White Crucifixion (1938). Throughout this interwar period he traveled extensively, working in Brittany in 1924, in southern France in 1926, in Palestine in 1931 (as preparation for the Bible etchings), and, between 1932 and 1937, in Holland, Spain, Poland, and Italy. In 1931 he published, in a French adaptation, My Life, which he had written earlier in Russian. His reputation as a modern master was confirmed by a large retrospective exhibition in 1933 at the Kunsthalle, Basel, Switz.
With the outbreak of World War II, he moved to the Loire district of France and then, as the Nazi menace for all European Jews became increasingly real, further and further south. Finally, in July 1941, he and his family took refuge in the United States; he spent most of the next few years in New York City or its neighbourhood. For a while Chagall continued in his painting to develop themes he had already treated in France; typical works of this period are the Yellow Crucifixion (1943) and The Feathers and the Flowers (1943). But in 1944 his wife Bella died, and memories of her, often in a Vitebsk setting, became a recurring pictorial motif. She appears as a weeping wife and a phantom bride in Around Her (1945) and, again, as the bride in The Wedding Candles (1945) and Nocturne (1947).
In 1945 Chagall designed the backdrops and costumes for a New York City production of Igor Stravinsky's ballet The Firebird. American art critics and collectors, who had not always been favourably disposed toward his work, were given an opportunity to revise their opinions in a large retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in 1946 and at the Art Institute of Chicago a few months later.
In 1948 he settled again in France, first in the suburbs of Paris and finally on the French Riviera at Vence and nearby Saint-Paul. In 1952 he married Vava Brodsky and began, at the age of 65, what might almost be called a new career--although the familiar, poetic, memory-derived motifs continued to appear in his work. Between 1953 and 1956, without forgetting his native Vitebsk, he produced a series of paintings inspired by his affection for Paris. In 1958 he did the sets and costumes for a production of Maurice Ravel's ballet Daphnis et Chloé at the Paris Opéra. After 1958 he designed a number of stained-glass windows, first for the Cathedral of Metz (1958-60) and the synagogue of the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center in Jerusalem (1960-61). In 1964 he unveiled a window for the United Nations building in New York City and completed a new ceiling for the Paris Opéra, and two years later he completed two large mural paintings, The Sources of Music and The Triumph of Music, for the new home of the New York Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center. In 1967 he created the sets and costumes for a Metropolitan Opera production of W.A. Mozart's Magic Flute. In 1973 the Museum of the Marc Chagall Biblical Message was dedicated at Nice, France, and in 1977 France honoured him with a retrospective exhibition at the Louvre in Paris. In 1977 Chagall's The American Windows were unveiled at the Art Institute of Chicago.
A repertory of images that includes massive bouquets, melancholy clowns, flying lovers, fantastic animals, biblical prophets, and fiddlers on roofs helped to make Chagall one of the most popular of the major innovators in the 20th-century school of Paris. This dreamlike subject matter is presented in rich colours and in a fluent, painterly style that--while reflecting an awareness of such pre-1914 movements as Expressionism, Cubism, and even abstraction--remained invariably personal. Although critics sometimes complained of facile sentiments, uneven quality, and an excessive repetition of motifs in the artist's large total production, there is agreement that at its best it reached a level of visual metaphor seldom attempted in modern art.
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Marc Chagall was born in Vitebsk in 1887, one of the nine children of a poor Jewish family. In 1907 he enrolled at the Imperial School of the Encouragement of the Arts at Saint Petersburg, then at Leon Bakst's Swanseva School, where he discovered Cézanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh. In Paris in 1910, Chagall met Max Jacob, Guillaume Apollinaire, Modigliani. His first exhibition was held in Berlin in 1914 ; the same year Chagall showed at the Salon des Indépendants and Salon d'Automne in Paris. Upon returning to Russia in 1915, he married Bella Rosenfeld, his daughter Ida bing born a year later. In 1918, Chagall was named commissary of art of Vitebsk, and in 1919 founded an academy were Pougny, Lissitsky and Malevitch worked. But the latter two and Chagall failed to get on, and Chagall lost his post. Settling in Moscow, he designed costumes, stage sets and curtains, and painted murals for the Yiddish Theatre. In 1920 he began writting "my life", published in France in 1931 ; in 1922 he is contacted by Vollard for a book-illustration project. He thus made 96 prints (both etchings and aquatints) for Gogol's "The dead souls" and 100 etchings for La Fontaine's Fables. For a further Vollard commission, the Bible, published by Tériade, he made 105 prints (etchings) and travelled to Palestine, Syria and Egypt. In 1926, two important shows of Chagall's work were held in Belgium and New-York.
In 1941, the rise antisemitism made Chagall move to New-York with his family ; in 1944 his wife Bella died. He designed the stage costumesand scenery for Stravinsky 's Firebird in 1945. After 2 retrospective shows in New-York and Chicago, Chagall moved back to France in 1948, settling in Provence where he married Valentine Brodsky (Vava). Extending his creative activity, he made ceramics, sculptures, and stained-glass (for Metz Cathedrale). Continuing his book illustrating, Chagall made 42 prints (lithographs) for Daphnis and Chloë, published by Tériade in 1961, and 38 original lithographs in colours for the Cirque in 1967. His average yearly output of prints (especially lithographs) ranged from 15 to 20 ! They number in all well over one thousand.
In 1963, Chagall painted the ceiling of the Paris Opera ; the Musée National du Message Biblique in Nice opened in 1973. Numerous retrospective shows of his work were held world-wide, including The Louvre in 1977. Chagall died in St Paul de Vence in 1985 aged 98, and two years later, for the first time, the Pouchkine Museum held an exhibition spanning his career. In:http://www.michelfillion.com/oeuvres_eng.php?artiste=CHAGALL
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1887 Born: July 7, Vitebsk, Russia
1907 - 1910 Studied at the Imperial Society for the Protection of the Arts; Saint Petersburg
1918 Appointed Commissar for Art, founded the Vitebsk Popular Art School
1927 Recognized as a leading painter of the School of Paris and founding member of the Association des Peintres-Graveurs
1939 Awarded first prize by the Carnegie Foundation, Pittsburgh
1948 Awarded the Grand Prix de Gravure at the Venice Biennale
1959 Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters
1965 Awarded an Honorary Degree by Notre-Dame University, Indiana
1977 Awarded the Grand Cross of the Legion d'Honneur
1985 Died: March 28, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France
Marc Chagall was born July 7, 1887, in Vitebsk, Russia and was educated in art in Saint Petersburg and, from 1910, in Paris, where he remained until 1914. Between 1915 and 1917 he lived in Saint Petersburg. After the Russian Revolution he was director of the Art Academy in Vitebsk from 1918 to 1919 and was art director of the Moscow Jewish State Theater from 1919 to 1922. Chagall painted several murals in the theater lobby and executed the settings for numerous productions. Thereafter he returned to Paris. During World War II, Chagall fled to the United States. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, gave him a retrospective in 1946. He settled permanently in France in 1948.
Chagall is distinguished for his surrealistic inventiveness. He is recognized as one of the most significant painters and graphic artists of the 20th century. Chagall's personal and unique imagery is often suffused with exquisite poetic inspiration. His distinctive use of color and form is derived partly from Russian expressionism and was influenced decisively by French cubism. Crystallizing his style early, he later developed subtle variations. His numerous works represent characteristically vivid recollections of Russian-Jewish village scenes, as in I and the Village (1911, Museum of Modern Art, New York City), and incidents in his private life, as in the print series Mein Leben (German for "My Life,"1922), in addition to treatments of Jewish subjects, of which The Praying Jew (1914, Art Institute of Chicago) is one.
Marc Chagall's works combine recollection with folklore and fantasy. Biblical themes characterize a series of etchings executed between 1925 and 1939, illustrating the Old Testament, and the 12 stained-glass windows in the Hadassah Hospital of the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center in Jerusalem (1962). In 1973 Musée National Message Biblique Marc Chagall (National Museum of the Marc Chagall Biblical Message) was opened in Nice, France, to house hundreds of his biblical works. Chagall executed many prints illustrating literary classics. A canvas completed in 1964 covers the ceiling of the Opéra in Paris, and two large murals (1966) hang in the lobby of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. An exhibition of the artist's work from 1967 to 1977 was held at the Musée du Louvre, Paris, in 1977-78, and a major retrospective was held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1985. Chagall died March 28, 1985, in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France.
1985 Marc Chagall: Retrospectives; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia; Royal Academy, London
1983 Oeuvres sur papier exhibition: National Museum of Modern Art, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
1982 Marc Chagall: Retrospectives; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Louisianer Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Denmark
1977 - 1978 Marc Chagall: The artist’s work from 1967 to 1977; Musée du Louvre, Paris
1974 Marc Chagall: Retrospective of engraved works (prints); National Gallery, East Berlin and Dresden
1970 Hommage a Marc Chagall; Musee du Grand-Palais, Paris
1967 Marc Chagall: Retrospectives; Zurich, Cologne and the Maeght Foundation in Saint-Paul-de-Vence
1963 Marc Chagall: Retrospective; National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo
1959 Marc Chagall: Retrospective; Museum of Decorative Arts, Palais du Louvre, Paris
1951 Marc Chagall: Retrospective; Jerusalem
1947 Marc Chagall: Retrospective; Musee National d'Art Moderne, Paris
1946 Marc Chagall: Retrospective; Museum of Modern Art, New York
1942 Artists in Exile; New York
1938 Marc Chagall: Retrospective; Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels
1933 Marc Chagall: Retrospective; Kunsthalle Basel, Basel
1926 Marc Chagall: Solo Exhibition; Reinhardt Gallery, New York
1924 Marc Chagall: Retrospective; Galerie Barbazanges-Hodebert, Paris
1913 Marc Chagall: Solo Exhibition; Der Sturm Gallery, Berlin
1912 Participated in the Salon des Indépendants and the Salon d’Automne; Paris, France
Chagall remains a mystery and a phenomenon. The artist was able to create a collection of unusual, out-of-the-ordinary paintings so very far from the trends of the time.
Chagall takes us far beyond usual boundaries to magical lands flowing in a perpetual daydream. Chagall did not wait for psychoanalysis to become trendy; he was already studying the subconscious. His works are timeless, even if art critics would criticize a Fauvist Chagall or a Cubist Chagall or his attempts at expressionism and surrealism. And sometimes with good reason, but then again, Chagall remains…Chagall!
Dedicating his life to a quest for all things spiritual, even mystical, Chagall sometimes tipped over into the fantastic.
“Come back, you are famous and Vollard (famous art dealer of the time) is waiting for you” wrote the poet Cendrars from Berlin…in 1922! Rare are the works of art that enjoyed such seemingly instant fame throughout the art world. Chagall died leaving behind him a considerable collection peppered with donkeys, nanny-goats and characters soaring high above towns…scenery and landscapes anchored so firmly in our collective unconscious, rendering every Chagall piece a work of art that stands out above the rest.
Numerous retrospectives have paid tribute to this master painter of the 20th century, adored by the masses as well as the critics. Sales of his pieces remain the stuff records are made of in auction houses around the world today.
Chagall, Marc (1887-1985), French painter and designer of Russian birth, distinguished for his Surrealistic inventiveness. He is recognized as one of the most significant painters and graphic artists of the 20th century. His work is touched with a humour and fantasy that finds a resonance in the subconscious. Chagall's personal and unique imagery is often suffused with exquisite poetic inspiration.
Chagall was born on July 7, 1887, in Vitsyebsk, Russia (now in Belarus), and was educated in art in St Petersburg and, from 1910, in Paris, where he remained until 1914. Between 1915 and 1917 he lived in St Petersburg; after the Russian Revolution he was director of the Art Academy in Vitsyebsk from 1918 to 1919 and was art director of the Moscow Jewish State Theatre from 1919 to 1922. Chagall painted several murals in the theatre foyer and executed the sets for numerous productions. In 1923, he moved to France, where he spent the rest of his life, except for a period of residence in the United States from 1941 to 1948. He died in St Paul de Vence, in the South of France, on March 28, 1985.
Chagall's distinctive use of colour and form is derived partly from Russian Expressionism and was influenced decisively by French Cubism. Crystallizing his style early, as in Candles in the Dark (1908, artist's collection), he later developed subtle variations. His numerous works represent characteristically vivid recollections of Russian-Jewish village scenes, as in I and the Village (1911, Museum of Modern Art, New York), and incidents in his private life, as in the print series Mein Leben (German for “My Life”, 1922), in addition to treatments of Jewish subjects, of which The Praying Jew (1914, Art Institute of Chicago) is one. His works combine recollection with folklore and fantasy. Biblical themes characterize a series of etchings executed between 1925 and 1939, illustrating the Old Testament, and the 12 stained-glass windows in the Hadassah Hospital of the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Centre in Jerusalem (1962). In 1973 the Musée National Message Biblique Marc Chagall (National Museum of the Marc Chagall Biblical Message) was opened in Nice, on the French Riviera, to house hundreds of his biblical works. Chagall executed many prints illustrating literary classics. A canvas completed in 1964 covers the ceiling of the Opéra in Paris, and two large murals (1966) hang in the foyer of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.
In: MS Encarta
Marc Chagall was born in Vitebsk, Byelorussia, in 1887 to a poor Hassidic family. The eldest of nine children, Marc Chagall studied first in a heder before moving to a secular Russian school, where he began to display his artistic talent. With his mother's support, and despite his father's disapproval, Chagall pursued his interest in art, going to St. Petersburg in 1907 to study art with Leon Bakst. Influenced by contemporary Russian painting, Chagall's distinctive, child-like style, often centering on images from his childhood, began to emerge. From 1910 to 1914, Marc Chagall lived in Paris, and there absorbed the works of the leading cubist, surrealist, and fauvist painters. It was during this period that Chagall painted some of his most famous paintings of the Jewish shtetl or village, and developed the features that became recognizable trademarks of his art. Strong and often bright colors portray the world with a dreamlike, non-realistic simplicity, and the fusion of fantasy, religion, and nostalgia infuses his work with a joyous quality. Animals, workmen, lovers, and musicians populate his figures; the "fiddler on the roof" recurs frequently, often hovering within another scene. Chagall's work of this period displays the influence of contemporary French painting, but his style remains independent of any one school of art. He exhibited regularly in the Salon des Independants.
In 1914, before the outbreak of World War I, Marc Chagall held a one-man show in Berlin, exhibiting work dominated by Jewish images and personages. During the war, he resided in Russia, and in 1917, endorsing the revolution, he was appointed Commissar for Fine Arts in Vitebsk and then director of the newly established Free Academy of Art. The Bolshevik authorities, however, frowned upon Chagall's style of art as too modern, and in 1922, Marc Chagall left Russia, settling in France one year later. He lived there permanently except for the years 1941 - 1948 when, fleeing France during World War II, he resided in the United States. Chagall's horror over the Nazi rise to power is expressed in works depicting Jewish martyrs and Jewish refugees.
In addition to images of the Hassidic world, Chagall's paintings are inspired by themes from the Bible. His fascination with the Bible culminated in a series of over 100 etchings illustrating the Bible, many of which incorporate elements from Jewish folklore and from religious life in Vitebsk. Chagall's other illustrations include works by Gogol, La Fontaine, Y. L. Peretz, and his autobiographical Ma Vie (1931; My Life 1960) and Chagall by Chagall (1979).
Marc Chagall painted with a variety of media, such as oils, water colors, and gouaches. His work also expanded to other forms of art, including ceramics, mosaics, and stained glass. Among his most famous building decorations are the ceiling of the Opera House in Paris, murals at the New York Metropolitan Opera, a glass window at the United Nations, and decorations at the Vatican.
Israel, which Marc Chagall first visited in 1931 for the opening of the Tel Aviv Art Museum, is likewise endowed with some of Chagall's work, most notably the twelve stained glass windows at Hadassah Hospital and wall decorations at the Knesset.
Marc Chagall received many prizes and much recognition for his work. He was also one of very few artists to exhibit work at the Louvre in their lifetime.
Marc Chagall’s involvement with printmaking dates to 1922 and his return to Berlin after World War I. In the course of trying to recover the paintings he had left behind with Sturm Gallery’s director Herwarth Walden in 1914, Walter Feilchenfeldt, the director of the Cassirer Gallery, offered to publish Chagall’s then recently completed autobiography Mein Leiben (My Life) to be illustrated with etchings. Although the book was never published due to translation problems, a suite of 20 etchings was created by the artist in the medium of dry-point etching depicting scenes and figures in Chagall’s newly evolved naïve-realistic style. Chagall had never before been introduced to printmaking techniques and became very enamored with them, trying his hand with woodcuts and lithography, too. He felt that in these mediums his narrative flair had found its proper expression. Chagall wrote in 1960, "Since I started using a pencil, I have sought for this certain something that could spread like a stream toward unknown and alluring shores." And again, "When I held a lithographic stone or a copperplate in my hand I thought I was touching a talisman. It seemed to me that I could put all my joys and sorrows in it....Everything that touched my life through the years, births, deaths, weddings, flowers, animals, birds, the poor workers, my parents, lovers in the night, the biblical prophets, on the street, at home, in the temple and in heaven. And as I grew older, the tragedy of life within us and around us."1 It is in this sense that Chagall did lithographs, and they have become the stream that carries the message of his painting into the wide world.
Fortuitously, it was a printmaking commission that brought Marc Chagall back to Paris in 1923. The famous dealer and editor, Ambroise Vollard, invited him to do some book illustrations and the artist requested the book be the Russian author Gogol’s the Dead Souls. So it was that Marc Chagall engraved 107 etchings on this theme in the course of only two years. Although in style they are related to the Mein Leiben dry-points, their technique is obviously more elaborate and refined. Indicative of how the various creative mediums are related, the artist found that in the process of developing engraved imagery to illustrate Gogol he was able to revive his own Russian themes. As he had been longing to surround himself with the paintings he had lost in the course of WWI and his sojourn in Russia, he seized upon this inspiration to reconstruct many of his earlier missing canvasses. Other themes also evolved that were connected to his more recent Moscow theatre and mural experience. After his return Chagall viewed Paris and the French countryside with fresh eyes and this too was reflected in his paintings. His colors, moderated by the special light of Provence, became more delicate although still laid on richly and spontaneously. He began to paint both the French landscape and floral bouquets accompanied by loving couples, musicians and animals—often depicted around the edges of the composition like poetic interpolations. These themes would continue to pervade his mature work through the end of his career.
In 1928-31, Marc Chagall produced a series of black and white etchings inspired by the La Fontaine’s Fables, also published by Vollard, who became Chagall’s mentor and source of inspiration with his concepts for print projects. In these works the artist employed every conceivable etching technique in an effort to bestow upon them a painterly quality. At roughly the same time, Vollard had the vision to commission from Chagall a series of gouache paintings based on circus imagery. These two projects stirred the fertile imagination of Marc Chagall and he spawned amazing imagery that influenced many of his later works. This was a happy, busy time for Chagall. He was able to enjoy the lifestyle of a successful artist in the French City of Light and this was reflected in festive, elegant and romantic compositions he painted often portraying his wife, Bella and himself. In the early 1930’s the economic and political crisis that beset Europe also had its effect upon Chagall. Nazi persecution of the Jews made the artist more aware of his own Jewish roots and caused him to long for a more serious type of artistic expression of deeper significance to the human condition. Vollard’s 1931 commission of 100 etchings depicting the Bible coincided perfectly with the artist’s mood and he responded immediately by travelling to the Holy Land to absorb the setting of the Old Testament. There he was moved by the solemn beauty of the area and its splendid light as he began work on a project and a body of images that would continue to play a major role in his future work. This commission marked the beginning of the religious side of the artist’s work. At the outset of WWII which nearly coincided with Ambroise Vollard’s death in an automobile accident, two-thirds of the plates were completed with most of the balance already started. In this same period of time Chagall had traveled to Spain in 1934 to study the works of Velazquez, Goya and El Greco, and in 1937 he journeyed to Italy to contemplate the works of Titian. From these pilgrimages he derived the concept of painting on a larger scale, with a more diverse color palette and a greater depth of meaning.
During WWII Marc Chagall was reluctant to leave his adopted home of France. In 1940 he moved to Gordes in Provence in the hope of simply being left alone to paint. That winter he was contacted by Varian Fry of the American Aid Committee and received the invitation of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City to come to the United States.
At first he declined but as news reached him of the arrests and disappearance of friends he decided to accept this invitation. With Bella, their daughter Ida and as many of his paintings as possible they made their way to Marseilles then Lisbon finally embarking for the U.S. They arrived in New York on June 23, 1941 one day after Nazi troops marched into Russia the home of Chagall’s childhood. Cut off from his normal routine Chagall devoted himself to his painting at first in New York City, but as soon as possible he and his family relocated to the countryside. There tragically his beloved wife Bella took ill with pneumonia and died leaving Marc and Ida alone and brokenhearted.
After Bella’s death, in an effort to proceed with his work, Chagall began to produce his first color lithographs Four Tales from The Arabian Nights. From the 1,001 stories in The Arabian Nights, Chagall chose just a few which deal with themes of lost love, reunion and death creating a total of 13 compositions. The combination of these exotic tales of fantasy and the vivid color and imagery of Marc Chagall proved to be an intoxicating blend. Although he had created black and white lithographs earlier in France, Chagall, who is widely considered to be among the greatest colorists of all time, had never tried his hand at color lithography. The spectacular results published in 1948 confirm the artist’s affinity for the medium. Chagall’s Four Tales from The Arabian Nights are considered to be the finest examples of color lithography produced in the United States prior to 1950, and he was honored in 1948 by being awarded the graphic prize of the Venice Biennial.
Following a comprehensive exhibition of his work at the Musee National d’Art Moderne, Paris in the spring of 1946, Chagall moved permanently back to France in 1948 settling in Vence near Nice and the Cote d’Azur by 1950. Soon after his return Chagall met with Teriade (1897-1983) the editor of Verve and heir to Vollard, who began to publish in rapid succession the Chagall projects remaining in Vollard’s estate: Dead Souls in 1948, La Fontaine’s Fables in 1952, The Bible (the balance of which had been completed between 1952-56) in 1957. Most significantly of all in 1952 as the artist was about to remarry, Teriade commissioned Chagall to illustrate the ancient pastoral romance Daphnis and Chloe.
With Daphnis and Chloe (M. 308-349) Marc Chagall embarked upon a new cycle of life and work. Together with his new bride, Vava, and literally on their honeymoon, he traveled for the first time in his life to Greece to seek inspiration for this adventurous tale. In Delphi, Athens and on the island of Poros, Marc and Vava fell in love with Greece and the story of Daphnis and Chloe. At that time and in a series of later visits to Greece, Chagall created a series of drawings and gouaches which formed the basis for the 42 color lithographs which comprise the Daphnis and Chloe suite. As published by Teriade in 1961 in the deluxe edition of only 60 they are universally accepted as the artist’s most important original prints (it should be noted that an unsigned book state of 250 also exists). These remarkable works were engraved by Marc Chagall under the watchful eye of the master printer Charles Sorlier and printed on the presses of the incomparable Mourlot workshop in Paris between 1957 and 1960. Chagall’s color lithographs for Daphnis and Chloe set a new standard for excellence in this medium that may never be equalled. Abandoning the traditional practice of first producing a black stone or drawing stone which outlines most of the composition and reduces the subsequent color plates to merely adding detail, Chagall chose to create lithograph compositions completely from pure color just as he would a painting. In 1958 Chagall was commissioned by the Paris Opera to create set designs and costumes for the ballet Daphnis and Chloe by Ravel, thereby bringing to life this classic story and paralleling his original prints on the same theme. His work with the ballet and its dancers clearly influenced the grace and beauty of the movement of the figures portrayed in the lithographs as well.
Henceforth, Chagall continued to be fascinated with color lithography as a printmaking medium and retained the Mourlot atelier and especially Charles Sorlier as his creative collaborators. Sorlier advised him on all his future color lithograph projects and supervised their printing at Mourlot. "Marc Chagall fabricated a mystical world of lovers, musicians and artists in his work. He chose lithography as a print medium that could offer him almost unlimited painterly freedom to explore this world. Since lithography is a technique where the artist can work directly on the printing plate or lithostone, the resultant prints convey the spontaneity of his brushstrokes and drawn lines. Lithography also allowed Chagall to work in lush color, which he viewed as his métier, and for which he has become renowned. Chagall’s lithographs are now among the most collected art works of the 20th century."2
Following his triumphant Daphnis and Chloe suite, Chagall produced such individual masterpieces in color lithography as The Bay of Angels (M. 350) and Quai de la Tournelle (M. 351). In 1962, encouraged by Teriade, he began work on another project that was first conceived by Ambroise Vollard, The Circus suite (M. 490-527). Vollard had been an enthusiastic fan of the circus and realized the potential of its lights, costumes and performers as stimulus for Chagall imagery. He had therefore, as we have already noted, commissioned the artist to paint a series of circus gouaches in the late 1920’s. Employing these gouaches as a point of departure, Chagall now engraved 23 masterful color lithographs and 15 lyrical black and white lithographs on the circus theme. The color examples alone were published in 1967 by Teriade in a deluxe edition of only 24 and three artist’s proofs, and rank with the Daphnis and Chloe color lithographs as the artist’s finest and most collectable. Chagall composed his own text for the book state of these works which were published along with the black and white examples as a true artists’ book in an unsigned edition of 250. Chagall’s colorful circus imagery is pure delight and speaks to the child within us all, but upon closer examination the viewer discovers in addition to the clowns, acrobats and equestrians unexpected but typical Chagall iconography such as his bridal couples, musicians and his ubiquitous chickens and goats which add to the fun. Yet for the artist the circus was a somewhat melancholy visual metaphor for life. "For me the circus is a magic spectacle which passes by like the affairs of the world and melts. There is an unsettling and a profound circus."3
Even with the enormous success of the color lithography he had already achieved Marc Chagall was still eager to experiment with the possibilities and limitations of this printmaking medium. Unusual formatted tableauxs such as the oval shaped The Golden Age (M. 542) and grand scale subjects like The Magician of Paris II of the late 1960’s viewed in this exhibition are superb examples that added new excitement to his printmaking oeuvre. For his final body of lithography based upon a single theme Chagall chose Homer’s Odyssey (M. 749-830) executing 82 lithographs, 43 of them in color based upon this epic. The Odyssey was published by Mourlot in two volumes in the mid-1970’s. Marc Chagall’s enthusiasm for color lithography was such that in 1980 Aime Maeght was able to induce the artist, then 93 years old, to engrave his largest color lithographs ever (M. 971-984) simply by informing him that he had obtained some large sized lithostones. Maeght had hoped that the artist would be sufficiently interested to engrave one or two new compositions; instead Chagall summoned his energy and talent to engrave 13 outstanding color lithographs including: Couple at Dusk (M. 972), In the Sky of the Opera (M. 973), The Parade (M. 981) and Red Maternity (M. 984) each measuring on average 95 x 60 cm. (37 5/8 x 23 7/8 inches). Together they constitute a complete compendium of his most recognizable imagery including loving couples, floral bouquets, floating figures, circus performers and the familiar landscapes of Paris, St. Paul de Vence and Vitebsk all presented in a monumental size.
Mrc Chagall was 63 years old when he first came to Mourlot in 1950 to study in earnest the technique of color lithography with Charles Sorlier. Already a world famous artist with nothing to prove, Chagall nevertheless worked tirelessly to master the many nuances and subtleties of this demanding medium for his own satisfaction. As the majority of his works in lithography were created late in his career the character of the work produced took on that of a dialogue between the artist and his earlier inventions, giving his lithographs the advantage of drawing upon a rich and personal iconography developed over a lifetime. It is not surprising therefore that these color lithographs are so endearing to those of us whose heart and soul are touched by the message of Marc Chagall. Marc Chagall died on March 28th, 1985, in Saint-Paul Russia.
James Healy, San Francisco 2002
Daphnis and Chloe
When it was suggested to Chagall that he illustrate the fable of Daphnis & Chloé, he began his preparation by making two trips to Greece. Chagall was delighted with the tale, which analyzed the simple, mutual passion of two abandoned children who are raised by a shepherd. The children are protected by nymphs and the god, Pan, and finally marry after being cruelly separated for a time because of the abduction of the maiden by a pirate.
The work on the preliminary sketches and gouaches for the series involved Chagall in trips to Athens, Delphi, Olympia, Nauplis, and Poros; in the course of these excursions, he fell in love with the Greek sea, archaic sculpture, Greek landscape, and especially Greek light. And it is the very essence of the Greek landscape that was absorbed by the artist and then recreated on pages drenched in blue, shimmering with the shiniest yellow and shadowed in the palest mauve.
Charles Sorlier, the colorist for the project, hand-mixed the color palette Chagall used in this suite. He and Chagall worked together to develop new blues and greens to meet Chagall’s vision of this paradisiacal story. Chagall also experimented with surface textures. It was standard at the time this suite was published in 1961 to use approximately 3 to 6 lithographic stones in creating a single print. Chagall generally used 25-30 individual stones per print in the Daphnis & Chloé suite creating the density and layering of color, which is so unique and rich. Charles Sorlier went on to become a printmaker in his own name; interestingly, he referred to himself as a ‘color therapist.’
Chagall designed sets for Diaghilev at the Ballet Russe (1909-29). He knew Vaslev Nijinsky personally and took drawing classes with him in Paris. Chagall later created sets for Daphnis & Chloé for the Paris Opéra where in 1964 he painted stunning images on the inside of the dome.
The name of Marc Chagall requires little introduction for, along with Picasso, he stands at the summit of twentieth century art. More than any artist of any time, Marc Chagall was the master interpreter of dreams and allegories. These he expressed with an astonishing innocence and purity and -- as his long, productive career advanced -- he turned more towards original lithography as his most favoured vehicle of artistic vision.
Born into a poor family in Russian Vitebsk, Marc Chagall first began to paint in 1907. He attended an art school in St. Petersburg for several years before leaving for Paris in 1910 to study under the famous stage designer, Leon Bakst. His first major exhibition of art took place in Berlin in 1914 and had an immediate influence upon the course of contemporary German Expressionism. Marc Chagall was forced to return to Russia during the First World War but returned to permanently live in the Paris suburb of Vence in 1931.
Marc Chagall executed his first important series of prints in 1922. Commissioned mainly by Vollard his early graphic art was exclusively in the medium of etching. Chagall was introduced in 1948 to original lithography by Fernand Mourlot, owner of one of the world's great lithography workshops.During the following thirty-five years over one thousand original lithographs were created by his hand. These amazing and vibrant works of art place Marc Chagall as perhaps the greatest lithographer of modern art.