Marc Chagall (b. June 24, jul. July 6, 1887greg. in Peskowatik, now a district of Vitebsk, Russian Empire, now Belarus; † March 28, 1985 in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France) was a French-Russian painter of Jewish religious affiliation. His original Russian name was Мойше Хацкелевич Шагал Moische Chazkelevich Shagal.
The family environment, his hometown Vitebsk and motifs from the Bible as well as from the circus are main themes of his paintings. He also used the same recurring symbols in his mosaics and in the windows and theater sets he designed. Chagall is considered one of the most important painters of the 20th century. He is often assigned to Expressionism and described as a “painter-poet”.
Beginnings – Vitebsk and Saint Petersburg
Chagall was born on June 24jul. July 6, 1887greg. as the eldest of nine children of a poor Orthodox Jewish working-class family in the suburb of Peskowatik, now a district north of the center of Vitebsk. Vitebsk then had a population of about 50,000, half of whom were Jewish. His father Sachar was a worker in a herring depot, and his mother Feiga-Ita ran a small grocery store. After cheder in Vitebsk, after his mother bribed the teacher, Chagall attended the city school, which normally did not accept Jews. Chagall now spoke Russian instead of Yiddish, took regular singing and violin lessons, and began to draw. In 1906 he graduated from the municipal school and became a student in the studio of the painter Yehuda Pen. Pen had studied at the Petersburg Academy of Art and painted portraits and genre paintings in the style of the turn of the century. Chagall obtained the residence permit for Saint Petersburg, which was necessary for Jews, in order to acquire thorough training as an artist in the capital after his apprenticeship with Jehuda Pen.
In the winter of 190607, he moved to Saint Petersburg with his friend Viktor Mekler, where he failed the entrance examination for the Academy of Arts. Thereupon, in the spring of 1907, he began training with Mekler at the school of the Imperial Society for the Promotion of the Arts, directed by Nicholas Roerich. In July 1908 Chagall left the school and went to the private school Saidenberg for a short time. During this time he painted the famous black and white painting The Dead Man, which is often exhibited.
From 1908 to 1910 Chagall attended the school of Yelizaveta Zvantseva, through whose director Léon Bakst he became acquainted with the newer painting. During his studies with Bakst, Chagall often went to Vitebsk and met his future wife Bella Rosenfeld there.
Stay in Paris
With the proceeds from the sale of two paintings and a small stipend from his patron Maxim Winawer, Chagall traveled to Paris in September 1910, where he hoped to find new inspiration for his art, and moved into his first own studio in the Impasse du Maine (now Rue Antoine Bourdelle), near the Gare Montparnasse.
He hoped for support from the Russian artists living there. The Russian art scene had resonated in Paris – more than in his own country – at that time. “Only the distance that lies between Paris and my hometown prevented me from returning immediately,” Chagall complained about the new living conditions, with which he was initially unable to cope. Later, however, he called Paris his “second Witebsk”.
Chagall began with nude studies such as Reclining Female Nude (1910) and Red Nude (1911). Occasionally he attended the evening nude in private academies, including so-called modernists such as Henri Le Fauconnier.
In the winter of 19111912, Chagall moved to a new, larger studio called La Ruche (The Beehive), an artists” settlement in the 15th arrondissement founded in 1902 by the sculptor Alfred Boucher. There he found himself in the midst of the international bohemia of Paris. He met the avant-garde artists of Montparnasse such as the poets Guillaume Apollinaire, Max Jacob, Blaise Cendrars and the painters Robert Delaunay, Albert Gleizes, Fernand Léger and Amedeo Modigliani. He soon formed a special friendship with Apollinaire, Cendrars, Delaunay and Léger. In the new studio, Chagall was able to turn to larger picture formats. The painters and poets there called Chagall le poète (“the poet”).
Chagall loved the light in Paris, which gave the French capital the nickname la ville lumière (“the city of light”), he even called it la lumière-liberté (“the light of freedom”), because with Paris and the Eiffel Tower, its landmark, the artist, who came from Tsarist Russia, associated the idea of freedom, which he later expressed through the Eiffel Tower often used in his paintings.
Chagall lived alone and visited galleries and museums during the day, where he first saw the original paintings of Gauguin, Van Gogh and other famous artists. The works of Matisse in the Louvre”s Autumn Salon made a special impression on him. When he returned to his studio late in the evening from his walks with the impressions of Paris and the galleries and museums he had visited, he painted the day”s experiences, giving free rein to his imagination.
Shortly after moving into his studio at La Ruche, Chagall attended the Salon des Indépendants and the Salon d”Automne, where he entered the center of French art in 1910. It was at the Salon that he first saw the explosive colors of the Fauvists and the construction methods of the Cubists, which seemed abstract to him. Chagall was almost overwhelmed by the liberating revolutionary scope of Fauvism. He later wrote in his autobiography, My Life, “Here I entered fully no academy could have given me all this that I discovered as I bit into the exhibitions of Paris, into the windows of its galleries, into its museums.” He saw in the free colors, the deformations and the forms affected by the inner imagination for the time being the boundless freedom.
Chagall”s first attempts at Cubism can be seen in his painting Intérieur II (however, he only developed his own, more contemporary form with My Bride (1911), whose sexual pictorial motif, considered pornographic, meant that the artist was not able to exhibit it until 1912 at the Paris Spring Salon. For Chagall, Cubism was the “language in which the magic of the world could be expressed.” Chagall found his access to Cubism, unlike contemporary colleagues, not through Picasso, but through Robert Delaunay. It was also the paroxysm of the Cubists” colors that encouraged Chagall to abandon himself to his explosive imagination.
Many of the paintings created in this period Chagall later dated, as is known today, with an incorrect year. For example, I and the Village was dated 1911, although it had already been painted at La Ruche. The most important companion in the Paris years was the poet Blaise Cendrars, from whose pen came the titles I and the Village, Dedicated to My Bride, and Russia, the Donkeys and the Others. With literary figures such as Cendrars, Chagall found recognition and confirmation for his work, since – except for some prints – he had not yet found buyers for his paintings at that time. Thus it was Apollinaire who gave the name surnaturel (“supernatural”) to Chagall”s pictorial worlds, which, despite their proximity to Cubism, were distinct from it. Later, Apollinaire called them surreal.
Chagall saw and discovered gouache for himself in Paris – the technique of opaque paint applied to paper with water – and now used it as his preferred means of expression. It enabled him to paint his spontaneous improvisations without further ado, since the material was not expensive. During his four years in Paris, Chagall painted hundreds of gouaches. He used canvases only when he expected a tangible result from the outset. He painted hardly more than forty canvases, which he prepared by painting with gouache. Chagall had adopted the new French painting methods, but changed or adapted them for himself, so that they helped his painterly imagination to realize his memories.
In 1913, Chagall met the Berlin art dealer Herwarth Walden through Apollinaire and took part in the first Autumn Salon in Berlin that same year. After three years, he left France for the first time. Walden was a mentor of Expressionism and editor of Sturm, a German magazine of avant-garde art. In the spring of 1914, through Apollinaire”s intercession, Walden organized Chagall”s first solo exhibition at his Berlin gallery Der Sturm, which the latter saw as an opportunity for an international breakthrough. He traveled to Berlin for the opening.
Russia – World War I and Russian Revolution
Already on the way to the vernissage in Berlin, Chagall had the intention to visit his family, his sister, who was soon to celebrate her birthday, and his fiancée Bella Rosenfeld in Vitebsk. Chagall therefore left for Russia after the exhibition ended on June 13, 1914. During his stay in Vitebsk, which was actually planned to last only a few weeks, World War I broke out at the end of July, closing the border and making an early return to Paris impossible. On July 25, 1915, Chagall married Bella Rosenfeld in Vitebsk, against the objections of his parents-in-law.
In the fall of 1915, the Chagall couple had to move to Petersburg (which was now called Petrograd), where their daughter Ida was born in 1916. To avoid military service, Chagall worked in a war economy service with his brother-in-law Jakov Rosenfeld. In Petrograd, Chagall came closer to the new trends in art in Russia. Thus he took up the primitivism of Natalia Goncharova and Mikhail Larionov, which was not unlike his conception of painting. In November 1916, he traveled to Moscow to open another exhibition. While in Petrograd, Chagall traveled back to Vitebsk when he could to visit his family. At this time, Chagall painted mostly pictures of the reality that surrounded him, as the events of the World War affected him and robbed him of his painterly imagination, which he seemed to have left behind in Paris. The soldiers stationed in Vitebsk, his family, the street scenes and the landscape around Vitebsk provided him with the motifs.
According to his own account, the February Revolution of 1917, which he witnessed in Petrograd, the center of events, had a lasting impact on Chagall”s life.
When the October Revolution broke out, the artist returned to Vitebsk with his wife and daughter. Since Chagall was enthusiastic about the revolution, he himself tried to participate in the revolutionary upheaval in Russia. He drew up the concept of an art school in Vitebsk, which was approved by Lunacharsky, whom Chagall had met in Paris, and who was appointed head of the Ministry of Culture by Lenin. The latter appointed him commissar of fine arts in the Vitebsk governorate on September 12, 1918. In 1919, Chagall founded the Vitebsk Art School, immediately took over its management and taught art classes. He succeeded in calling artists of the Russian avant-garde such as Kazimir Malevich, El Lissitzky and Ivan Albertovich Puni. David Yakerson was the head of the sculptor”s studio. Since Vitebsk was largely spared the famines in Russia, more and more artists came to the art academy and were hired by Chagall as teachers.
Chagall organized exhibitions and festivities as part of his new position as commissioner for the fine arts in the Vitebsk governorate and saw to the new opening and reopening of museums. In the months of April to June 1919, Chagall participated in the “First State Exhibition of Revolutionary Art” in the former Winter Palace in Petrograd. The Soviet Russian government acquired twelve of his paintings.
After there had been repeated disputes between him and Malevich, Chagall resigned from the leadership of the Art Academy in 1920. At the time, there was a struggle for direction in future art, in which Malevich became one of the leaders of this struggle through the painting Black Square on a White Ground. Malevich propagated his art as “pure painting,” which was incompatible with Chagall”s view. Chagall left Vitebsk with his family in May of the same year for Moscow, where the family had to live in poverty. During this time Chagall designed murals, decorations and costumes for the “Jewish Theater” in Moscow. The state demand for his works greatly diminished during this period, as they no longer fit into the official ideology of art and artists. At this time, artists were classified according to their political usefulness; in this classification, Chagall ended up pretty far down, since Malevich was responsible for them and he didn”t think much of Chagall.
In 1921 Chagall worked as a drawing teacher in the war orphan colony in Malakhovka near Moscow. That same year he began writing his autobiography My Life, in which he criticized, among other things, the state”s disregard for his artistic individuality.
A year later, Chagall left Russia with his family for Berlin, in order to pick up where he left off and to secure himself financially with the proceeds from the paintings he left behind. The reasons for his departure, apart from his financial problems, were the lack of prospects for the future. Like numerous intellectuals, he saw his work – since Lenin”s order to purge the country of “anti-Soviet” spirit – endangered by official harassment. His friend Lunacharsky provided him and his family with exit passports. The First Russian Art Exhibition in Berlin in 1922 showed his paintings Straßenkehrer, Verwunderer, Die Hausfrau, watercolors Liegende Frau and Haus, and a series of theater sketches: Wounded Man, Man with Goat, Sitting Man, Old Man and Two Heads.
Departure – Berlin, Paris and France
When Chagall arrived in Berlin in the summer of 1922, he visited Walden, who had in the meantime sold the paintings he had left behind and deposited the money he had raised in an account. However, the balance had become worthless due to inflation in Germany. Chagall sued in court for the return of 150 paintings. As compensation for the paintings he had left behind when the war broke out, the court bought some of them back for him. In Berlin, Chagall also met Frieda Riess, a locally known society photographer. Her studio was known for exclusive meetings of Berlin”s high society.
That same year, Chagall began etchings for a book edition of My Life, commissioned by the Berlin art dealer Paul Cassirer. On September 1, 1923, Chagall and his family moved to Paris, responding to the invitation of his friend Blaise Cendrars, who said to him, “Come back, you”re famous and Vollard is waiting for you!” He was commissioned to illustrate The Dead Souls of Nikolai Gogol by Parisian publisher Ambroise Vollard, a mentor of the Cubists and a fatherly friend of Picasso, whom Chagall had met through Cendrars. Chagall created 96 etchings for this edition, which did not appear until 1948, until 1927.
A very productive period now began in which Chagall repainted his pictures lost in the war from reproductions or from his memories. In this way, he not only wanted to compensate for his financial losses, but also to live up to his idea that his paintings were “always a piece of his artistic self”. Thus, in the years that followed, he painted most of his pictures a second time.
In the summer of 1924, Chagall traveled to Brittany, where he discovered the beauty of the local landscape. That same year, Chagall and his family moved into an apartment on the Avenue d”Orléans, where Lenin had lived years before. In Paris, the artist held his first retrospective.
Vollard commissioned Chagall to illustrate Jean de La Fontaine”s Fables in 1925. He did not take part in his first exhibition in New York in 1926. In the same year he took up a circus motif for the first time with his painting Three Acrobats, beguiled by the interplay of dance, theater and music. A portfolio of a collection of gouaches commissioned by Chagall in 1927 was called Cirque Vollard. From 1928 to 1931 Chagall was busy with the etchings to the fables of La Fontaine.
A contract with the art dealer Bernheim freed Chagall and his family from all financial worries – the family moved into a villa and could afford trips to the south of France; they also traveled to Auvergne and Savoy.
After Vollard suggested to Chagall in 1930 that he create illustrations for the Bible, the latter traveled to Palestine in 1931 to familiarize himself with the landscapes of the biblical world on site. In total, Chagall worked on the Bible motifs from 1931 to 1939 and from 1952 to 1956.
After a trip to the Netherlands in 1932, Chagall had his first major retrospective at the Kunsthalle Basel the following year. Chagall traveled to Spain in 1934; the same year he painted the portrait Bella in Green. In the spring of 1935, he traveled to Poland, where he realized that political reality represented “an overwhelming force” that his paintings could no longer ignore. For Chagall, it was in Poland that the threat to the Jewish world posed by the Third Reich became palpable for the first time. Chagall was deeply shocked when he saw the Jewish quarter and even more so when he had to witness as an eyewitness how his friend Dubnow was insulted on the open street as a “dirty Jew”.
In 1937 Chagall lived in Villeneuve-lès-Avignon and traveled to Italy the same year. Meanwhile, in Germany, 59 of Chagall”s works were confiscated as part of the confiscation campaign for the “Degenerate Art” exhibition. In 1938 he renewed his preoccupation with the theme of the Crucifixion, which he regarded as the supreme symbol of suffering. In the painting The White Crucifixion, he expressed his horror at the persecution of the Jews and the anti-Semitism that had flared up in France. In 1939 Chagall stayed in the Loire and Provence and received the Carnegie Prize. During this period, the Nazi persecution of Jews in Europe paralyzed his work. In several paintings – including his work Time is a River without a Bank (1930-1939) – Chagall depicted paralysis through a pendulum placed diagonally in the clock case. For him, dangerous time literally stands still. When World War II broke out in September 1939, Chagall moved with his family from the Loire to Gordes in southern France, as the greater distance from Germany and the events of the war also gave him a certain security against possible arrest and deportation.
During Chagall”s stay in Marseille, he was arrested in 1941 during a police raid. The threatened extradition to the Germans was narrowly prevented by the intervention of the USA. The Vichy regime no longer offered Chagall protection. Thanks to the help of Varian Fry, the head of the Emergency Rescue Committee, he and his family left France on May 7, 1941, with an invitation from the Museum of Modern Art in their pockets, and left for America by ship.
Emigration – USA
The Chagall family arrived in New York on June 23, 1941, the day after the German invasion of the Soviet Union. After a brief stay in Preston, they moved into a small apartment in New York. There Chagall also met Breton, Léger, Mondrian and Masson again, who had emigrated before him. In the summer of 1942, in Mexico, Chagall designed sets and costumes for the ballet Aleko to the music of Tchaikovsky, which premiered in Mexico City on September 10. In the summer of 1943 Chagall was again in the USA, at Cranberry Lake (New York State). The events of the war in Europe moved him greatly, despite the great distance. On the subject of the horror and destruction caused by wars, he painted a series of pictures, such as The War or The Crucifixion in Yellow. His wife Bella, who had inspired many of his paintings, died of a viral infection on September 2, 1944. Bella and daughter Ida were the subjects of many of his early famous paintings. Due to the sudden loss of his wife, Chagall fell into a depression and was unable to paint for months.
In 1945 he took up an intimate relationship with his housekeeper Virginia Haggard McNeil (* 1915), who was 28 years his junior, and their daughter Jean (at this time she was still married to the English painter John McNeil, hence David was given this name.
In the spring of 1945, Chagall gradually began to paint pictures again. In them he often chose the motif of the bride. That same year he decorated the Stravinsky ballet The Firebird for the Metropolitan Opera in New York. In 1946 Chagall had a retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In a lecture that same year at the University of Chicago, he said:
These key words can be found as recurring pictorial symbols in Chagall”s works.
His longing for a quiet place in the country where he could work exclusively and paint pictures was fulfilled in High Falls, a small village in the Catskill Mountains north of New York, which Virginia discovered for him. Despite the necessary alterations and renovations to the simple wooden house he purchased there, Chagall felt very much at home here, revived, and was inspired by nature to create a series of paintings.
Urged on by requests from his daughter Ida, who was already sounding out the art market in Paris after the end of the war, Chagall traveled back to the European metropolis in May 1946, where the art scene was reviving, gallery owners were vying for exclusive rights, and friends and acquaintances had long been expecting him back from exile. In a letter from Paris, Chagall describes his turmoil between his host country, America, and his creative homeland, France:
Nevertheless, he made sketches in Paris in gouache and pastel techniques, which he captured in the 1950s as oil paintings of the Paris series: Pont Neuf, Madonna of Notre Dame, The Banks of the Seine, Quai with Flowers. Chagall felt lonely despite many meetings in Paris and longed to return to Virginia, the simple life and High Falls. He arrived there again in August 1946, where in the newly refurbished studio and under the impression of the blooming garden, he produced a large number of paintings, including Green Dream, Arum Lilies, Bouquett with Flying Lovers, The Beautiful Redhead, Self-Portrait with Wall Clock, and The Flayed Ox; the following winter he painted The Resurrection on the Riverbank and Lovers on the Bridge.
In 1947 Chagall had another exhibition at the Musée d”art moderne de la Ville de Paris and others in Amsterdam and London. In addition, in the same year he completed his Angel”s Fall, which he had already begun in 1923, in which a red angel plunges headlong into the depths. After careful consideration, Chagall and Virginia decided in the summer of 1948 to settle permanently in France together with their children.
Return – Europe
After this joint move to Paris in August 1948, they lived in Orgevall near Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Chagall had exhibitions at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and the Tate Gallery in London, and he also received his first prize for graphics at the 25th Venice Biennale. That same year, lithographs he had already worked on in New York were published under the title Arabian Nights. In 1949 he moved to Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat near Nice on the Côte d”Azur and produced murals for the Watergate Theatre in London. He also worked with ceramics for the first time. A retrospective exhibition was held in 1950 at the Kunsthaus in Zurich.
Creeping estrangement, the age difference of 28 years, Virginia”s need for self-development, her own space and time in the relationship and, on the other hand, Chagall”s idea that the relationship with her should also be subordinated to art, different circles of acquaintances and friends of the two partners and a developing relationship of Virginia with the Belgian photographer and musicologist Charles Leirens led to the separation of the couple in 1952. A short time later, on July 12, 1952, Chagall married the Russian Valentina Brodsky (1905-1993, distantly related to Lasar Brodskyj), whom he affectionately called “Vawa.” She had a very positive influence on his further creative work. He traveled to Greece with her to prepare for the lithographs for Daphnis and Chloe, which he had been commissioned to do by the art critic and publisher Tériade. The latter also published La Fontaine”s Fables with Chagall”s illustrations in the same year. This was followed in 1953 by an exhibition at the Palazzo Madama in Turin and a series of paintings that Chagall dedicated to Paris, his “second Wizebsk”. Among them were pictures like The Bridges of the Seine or The Field of Mars.
In 1954 Chagall traveled to Greece for the second time and began work on Daphnis and Chloe, which appeared in 1961. In 1955 Chagall had an exhibition at the Kestner-Gesellschaft in Hanover, followed a year later by exhibitions in Basel and Bern. In Israel, he opened the Chagall House in Haifa in 1957. The Bible illustrations were published the same year by Tériade. He also decorated the baptistery of the church of Plateau-d”Assy in Savoy. In 1958, he decorated Ravel”s ballet production Daphnis and Chloe for the Paris Opera and lectured in both Chicago and Brussels. He also designed stained glass windows for Metz Cathedral that same year. In 1959, Chagall became an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and received an honorary doctorate from Glasgow University. He also had retrospective exhibitions in Hamburg, Munich, and Paris that same year. In 1958 he was commissioned by the city of Frankfurt to create the painting Commedia dell”Arte for the foyer of the new theater building of the Frankfurt Schauspielhaus.
In 1960 Chagall was already able to execute the first windows for the Metz Cathedral and in the same year, together with Oskar Kokoschka, he received the Erasmus Prize in Copenhagen. The following year he was commissioned by the synagogue of Hadassah University Hospital to redesign twelve windows. So in 1962 he traveled to Jerusalem to inaugurate the stained glass windows. A year later, he finished his work on the windows for the Metz Cathedral. Chagall also became an honorary citizen of Vence. In 1963, he had his first retrospective exhibitions in Tokyo and Kyōto, and traveled to Washington the same year to complete the stained glass windows for the north transept of Metz Cathedral. In 1964, he traveled to New York and painted stained glass windows at the UN Headquarters and the first windows for the Church of Pocantica Hill, New York. He was also able to complete and inaugurate the ceiling paintings for the Paris Opera House. Chagall took stained glass to new heights with his painting style. Chagall preferred to work with Charles Marq from the Jacques Simon studio on his stained glass windows.
In Kassel, Chagall participated in documenta three times: documenta 1 (1955), documenta II (1959), and documenta III (1964).
In 1965 he worked on wall decorations for Tokyo and Tel Aviv. This was followed the same year by paintings for New York”s new Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center. Chagall was able to complete a sequence of eight windows for the Pocantino Hill church the following year, and in the same year designed a mosaic wall and twelve wall panels for the Israeli parliament building in Jerusalem. Furthermore, he was able to install the two murals in the New York Metropolitan Opera. Chagall moved with his family in the same year from Vence to a newly built house in neighboring Saint-Paul-de-Vence. Chagall also donated 17 paintings of his Biblical Embassy to the French government. The French government then decided to build the Musée National Message Biblique Marc Chagall in Nice, which opened in 1973. In 1967, Chagall attended the premiere of Mozart”s Magic Flute, for which he had designed decorations and costumes in 1965. There were also two major retrospective exhibitions to mark Chagall”s 80th birthday in Cologne and Zurich, and at the Fondation Maeght in Saint-Paul-de-Vence. In addition, there were the exhibitions Message Biblique in the Louvre and Théâtre Chagall in Toulouse. That same year, Chagall designed three tapestries, over six meters wide, for the Parliament in Jerusalem and began work on painting the stained glass windows for the church in Tudeley, Kent. Religious affiliation played no role for Chagall or his client; Chagall decorated churches and synagogues alike.
In 1968, Chagall traveled back to Washington and began painting the stained glass windows for the north ambulatory of Metz Cathedral. February 4, 1969 was the laying of the cornerstone for the Message Biblique Foundation in Nice. In June of the same year, he traveled to Jerusalem for the inauguration of the tapestries in the new Parliament. In September 1970, the stained glass windows in the choir of the Fraumünster Church in Zurich were inaugurated. Furthermore, there was the exhibition Hommage á Chagall in the Grand Palais in Paris. In 1972, the artist began the mosaic for the First National Bank in Chicago. The following year, the Musée National Message Biblique Marc Chagall was opened in Nice. In the spring of 1974, after more than fifty years, he again traveled to Moscow and Leningrad (formerly and now Saint Petersburg). In June of the same year, the windows were inaugurated in the cathedral of Reims. Still in late summer, Chagall traveled to Chicago for the dedication of his mosaic The Four Seasons.
In 1975, works on paper by Chagall were exhibited in Chicago. In the same year he traveled to Japan, where a two-year traveling exhibition was held in five cities. In 1977, the artist received the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor from the President of France. In the same year he also traveled to Italy and Israel.
Chagall produced designs for the windows of the parish church of St. Stephan in Mainz. This commission came about through the mediation of the parish priest there, Klaus Mayer. The stained glass windows in Mainz, where there had already been fierce persecution of Jews in the Middle Ages, were intended as a lasting symbol of Jewish-Christian solidarity and international understanding. Chagall was able to complete a total of nine church windows by the time of his death.
Exhibitions followed in Florence (1979), in New York and Geneva (1980). The Psalms of David was exhibited at the Musée National Message Biblique in Nice in 1980. The following year there were graphic exhibitions in Hanover, Paris and Zurich, and in 1982 retrospective exhibitions at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark, which ran until March of the following year. In 1984 there were retrospective exhibitions at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Nice, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Rome, and Basel. The following year, two major retrospective exhibitions were held at the Royal Academy of Arts in London and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Chagall was also active as a writer on the side. In addition to his autobiography Ma Vie, he wrote related texts, poems and articles on art and literature in Yiddish. He illustrated Yiddish books, among others by Isaak Leib Perez, Abraham Sutzkever or David Hofstein.
On March 28, 1985, Marc Chagall died in Saint-Paul-de-Vence at the age of 97. He was buried in a simple stone grave in the cemetery there.
According to Christoph Goldmann, the pictorial signs in Chagall”s works are interpreted as follows:
On the occasion of the press conference on the Schwabing Art Find in November 2013, a previously unknown gouache by Chagall, Allegorical Scene, which is not listed in the painter”s catalog raisonné, was shown. It was part of the art dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt”s collection confiscated by the Allies in 1945 and is listed there under inventory number 20044. In June 1945, Gurlitt told the American authorities that the painting had come from his sister, who had been a student of Chagall. In 1950, on the other hand, he handed over a letter from the painter Karl Ballmer, in which the latter confirmed that both this painting and Picasso”s Portrait of a Lady with Two Noses had been given to him in Switzerland in 1943. On January 25, 1951, both paintings were returned to Gurlitt. In December 2013, there was another report that the painting came from the collection of the German-Jewish Blumstein family from Riga, Latvia, and had been confiscated by the Gestapo in 1941. Provenance researcher Meike Hoffmann estimates that the painting was created in the mid-1920s and assigns it a “particularly high art-historical value”. The Chagall Hall of the Israeli parliament Knesset, opened in 1969, was named after him.
The asteroid of the outer main belt (2981) Chagall is named after him.
Introductions and general presentations