Marc Chagall: Points of Interest

Marc Chagall

“La Paix Retrouvee” (Peace Rediscovered), (1974) by Marc Chagall.

Happy birthday to Marc Chagall! The artist, born July 7, 1887, is credited as being a pioneer of modern art with a style that borrowed from fauvism, expressionism and cubism, but cannot be pigeonholed into one category.

His dreamy works, whether of village life or Jewish rituals, continue to be the subject of study. He worked in everything from painting and drawing to mosaic, sculpture and lithography, his innovations in the latter setting new standards for fine art graphic works. In honor of the great artist’s birthday, we offer some facts you might find surprising about Chagall.

 

Chagall measured his work against nature

Chagall is said to have judged the quality of his art by comparing it to “God-made” objects. He would hold up objects like a rock, tree branch or flower to his painting. In his words: “If the painting stands up beside a thing man cannot make, the painting is authentic. If there’s a clash between the two, it’s bad art.”

 

Picasso’s praise, Chagall’s jokes

An article from the Smithsonian tells us that Chagall and Pablo Picasso were friends and rivals. Picasso praised Chagall, saying: “I don’t know where he gets those images. . .He must have an angel in his head.” Meanwhile, Chagall is said to have made the joke: “What a genius, that Picasso…It’s a pity he doesn’t paint.”

The same article tells us that Chagall was often elusive, telling people “no” or “I don’t know” if they asked if he was the famous painter Marc Chagall.

 

Chagall narrowly escaped Nazi-occupied France

Chagall and his family didn’t initially flee France under Nazi Germany occupation, unaware that laws were being passed mandating the forced transfer of Jewish citizens to concentration camps. When they finally decided to escape, they were unable to afford passage to New York. Thankfully, the Chagalls were among the 2,000 artists and intellectuals who fled to the U.S. with the help of American journalist Varian Fry, who risked his life to run a smuggling operation.

 

His “La Bible” series took 25 years to complete

Marc Chagall

“Moise et le Serpent” (Moses and the Serpent), (1931-1939) by Marc Chagall. His “La Bible” series is considered one of his most ambitious projects.

Chagall was commissioned by Ambroise Vollard to create illustrations based on the Bible in 1931. He decided to use the mediums of etching and engraving, creating 65 etchings from 1931 to 1939. However, Vollard’s death and the war spreading across Europe halted the project. In 1952, he resumed the project, creating 40 additional plates to complete the series in 1956. This is considered to be one of his most ambitious and important undertakings.

 

Chagall didn’t learn lithography until the age of 63

Marc Chagall

Springtime on the Meadow” (1961) by Marc Chagall.
From the “Daphnis and Chloe” series.

Chagall is credited with creating some of the most masterful works of color lithography from any artist, but he didn’t experiment with the medium until 1950 at the age of 63, two years after returning to France. Although a famous and talented artist, Chagall worked hard to master the printmaking medium, resulting in such works as his “Daphnis and Chloe” series.

Chagall was dedicated to the lithographic process and the layered use of color, causing his printmaker, Charles Sorlier, to remark: “It is in this way, to the surprise of certain publishers, that a plate begun in six colors can comprise twenty-five in its definitive version.”

 

Chagall’s lithography teacher became a lifelong friend

Chagall studied lithography under Sorlier, who entered Fernand Mourlot’s workshop in 1948. Sorlier worked with artists such as Henri Matisse, Picasso and Fernand Leger, but his relationship with Chagall was the most significant. They became great friends, so much so that Sorlier was one of the last people to visit Chagall before his death in 1985.

 

His painting of the Paris Opera ceiling was controversial

Chagall

The ceiling of the Paris Opera, painted by Chagall.

At the age of 77, Chagall was commissioned to paint the ceiling of the Paris Opera. His critics argued that a modern artist, let alone a Russian Jewish artist, shouldn’t be the one to paint a French national monument. Despite this, he completed the work in a year, using a 2,400-square-foot canvas and 440 pounds of paint.

3 Responses to Marc Chagall: Points of Interest

  1. Bogdan says:

    didn’t knew so many about chagall. I will start to searh more of his work. thank you for sharing this article. Bogdan

  2. Christopher Fish says:

    I would like to get an updated appraisal on a piece of artwork that I purchased from Park West in 2008. What is the easier way to do that.

Leave a comment

Prove you\'re human. *

Latest News

  • Britto Painting Makes Cruise Ship Wedding an Event to Remember

    There are wedding day stories where everything goes wrong—it rains, the groom is late, the cake topples over. This is NOT one of those stories.Instead, this is a story about ...
    Read More
  • Alexandre Renoir Brings “Beauty” to His New Monthaven Arts Exhibition

    As the great-grandson of famed artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alexandre Renoir knows a thing or two about beauty.An accomplished artist in his own right, Alexandre is bringing his wealth ...
    Read More
  • Behind the Artist: Nano Lopez

    Few contemporary artists have made more of an impact on the word of sculpture than Nano Lopez.His instantly recognizable “Nanimal” sculptures are collected around the globe, and he continues ...
    Read More
  • Why The Art of Dominic Pangborn Never Stops Evolving

      “Born in Korea, refined ...
    Read More
  • 5 Artists Talk About Itzchak Tarkay’s Influence on Their Work

    Itzchak Tarkay is world famous for his alluring, captivating compositions, but, within the art community, Tarkay is perhaps best known for being a generous mentor to his fellow artists.Throughout ...
    Read More
  • Auctioneer Spotlight: Nilesh Gurung

    Many Park West collectors develop lasting friendships with our art teams, underscoring our 49-year reputation of connecting people from all walks of life with artwork they love.Here’s a chance to ...
    Read More
  • Foster Youth Named on List of 100 Female Trailblazers

    Alexis Lenderman was intrigued to hear that Ananke Magazine, a women-focused digital magazine, created a list of the top 100 women from around the world making positive changes.As the ...
    Read More
  • The Enigmatic Women of Itzchak Tarkay Come Alive in This New Spring Collection

    Few artists understand beauty in the way that Itzchak Tarkay did. A legend in the figurative art movement, Tarkay’s works are instantly recognizable.A spiritual cousin to Toulouse-Lautrec and Henri ...
    Read More
  • A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Daniel Wall’s Artistic Process

    In magic, spectators become disenchanted in learning the secrets behind the illusions. When it comes to art, however, Daniel Wall believes the opposite is true.By sharing photos of his ...
    Read More
  • Art Cruises: Vacations Designed with Art Lovers in Mind

    Set sail for an extraordinary art adventure.All art tells a story. But the real story is behind the art. When you bring home a painting or sculpture from one of ...
    Read More
  • How Marc Chagall Came to Illustrate One of the Greatest Love Stories of...

    Bob Dylan once said that “passion is a young man’s game,” but over 60 years ago, at the age of 55, famed artist Marc Chagall illustrated one of the ...
    Read More
  • Why We Love Buying Art on Cruise Ships: Confessions of an Art Enthusiast...

    After entering their first cruise ship art auction, this couple has never looked back.Don and Tina Tritton almost missed the boat. While their ship was docked in Ketchikan during a ...
    Read More