Born in Vitebsk, Russia into a working class family, Chagall knew he was destined for great things. “I had to find some special occupation, some kind of work that would not force me to turn away from the sky and the stars, that would allow me to discover the meaning of life,” he once wrote. In 1910, he left the comfort of his native land for Paris and soon befriended such revolutionaries as Braque, Picasso, Delaunay, Soffici, Modigliani and the poet Apollinaire.
With the outbreak of WWI, Chagall and wife Bella returned to Russia, and enjoyed a warm welcome. Appointed Commissioner of Fine arts and Director of the Institute of Fine Arts in Vitebsk, he began a family. Only four years later, the emergence of Marxist socialism encouraged Chagall to leave once again for Europe. A Jewish intellectual, Chagall accepted an invitation to New York City by the Museum of Modern Art to seek safety from the Nazi invasion. Here he stopped painting for nearly nine months while he mourned the untimely death of his wife.
Once settled back in France, various prestigious institutions approached him for commissions. We now see Chagall’s extraordinary works in such esteemed installations as the Paris Opera House, Lincoln Center, New York, the Hadassah Synagogue near Jerusalem, the Chicago Institute of Art and others.
At a time when many artists followed the various popular artistic modes (such as Cubism, Dadaism, and Surrealism), Chagall maintained a highly individualistic style that disobeyed all other motifs practiced among his contemporaries. It is this individualism and commitment to his creative instincts that elevate his enchanting and mystifying compositions to remarkable heights.
Chagall is the master of color and the dream. He challenges our perceptions, and embarks his viewers on a journey of romance, phantasm and escapism.