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Marc Chagall (1887-1985)

Marc Chagall was born on July 7, 1887, in Vitebsk, Russia. From 1907 to 1910 he studied in Saint Petersburg, at the Imperial Society for the Protection of the Arts, and later with Léon Bakst. 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. Chagall visited Russia in 1914 and was prevented from returning to Paris by the outbreak of war. He settled in 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.

He moved to Moscow and executed his first stage designs for the State Jewish Chamber Theater there. After a sojourn in Berlin, Chagall returned to Paris in 1923 and met Ambroise Vollard. 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. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, gave him a retrospective in 1946. He settled permanently in France in 1948 and exhibited in Paris, Amsterdam, and London. In 1951 he visited Israel and executed his first sculptures. The following year the artist traveled 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 University Medical Center, Jerusalem; a ceiling for the Paris Opéra; a window for the United Nations building, New York; murals for the Metropolitan Opera House, New York; and windows for the cathedral in Metz, France. 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 was a highly respected graphic artist, initially in etching and later in color lithography. His collaborations with master printer, Charles Sorlier, have been well documented and resulted in some of the most highly collected prints of his career.

Chagall died on March 28, 1985, in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France.