Marc Chagall

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Marc Chagall (English pronunciation: /ʃəˈɡɑːl/, shə-GAHL;[1] Yiddish: מאַרק שאַגאַל; Russian: Марк Заха́рович Шага́л; 7 July 1887 – 28 March 1985), was a Belarusian (that time Russian Empire) French artist, associated with several key art movements and was one of the most successful artists of the 20th century. He created unique works in virtually every artistic medium, including painting, book illustrations, stained glass, stage sets, ceramic, tapestries and fine art prints. Chagall's haunting, exuberant, and poetic images have wide appeal, with art critic Robert Hughes referring to him as "the quintessential Jewish artist of the twentieth century."

As a pioneer of modernism and one of the greatest figurative artists of the 20th century, Chagall achieved fame and fortune, and over the course of a long career created some of the best-known paintings of our time. According to art historian Michael J. Lewis, Chagall was considered to be "the last survivor of the first generation of European modernists." For decades he "had also been respected as the world's preeminent Jewish artist." Using the medium of stained glass, he produced windows for the cathedrals of Reims and Metz, windows for the United Nations, and the Jerusalem Windows in Israel. He also did large-scale paintings, including the ceiling for the Paris Opéra.

His most vital work was made on the eve of World War I, when he traveled between St. Petersburg, Paris, and Berlin. During this period he created his own mixture and style of modern art based on his visions of Eastern European Jewish folk culture. He spent his wartime years in Russia, becoming one of the country's most distinguished artists and a member of the modernist avante-garde, founding the Vitebsk Arts College before leaving again for Paris in 1922.

He was known to have two basic reputations, writes Lewis: as a pioneer of modernism, and as a major Jewish artist. He experienced modernism's golden age in Paris, where "he synthesized the art forms of Cubism, Symbolism, and Fauvism, and the influence of Fauvism gave rise to Surrealism." Yet throughout these phases of his style "he remained most emphatically a Jewish artist, whose work was one long dreamy reverie of life in his native village of Vitebsk."[2] "When Matisse dies", Pablo Picasso remarked in the 1950s, "Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what colour really is."[3]

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