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Marc Chagall was an artist with unique style who earned international recognition during his lifetime. He was born in Vitebsk, Russia, in July 1887. From 1907 to 1910, Chagall studied at the Imperial Society for Protection of the Arts. Then, in 1910, he moved to the center of the modern art movement at the time: Paris, France.
Paris exposed Chagall to two prominent art forms of the time period: fauvism and cubism. Fauvism related to the use of vivid colors and expressions of feeling, as well as unnatural use of color. Cubism emphasized the use of multiple perspectives and viewpoints in one image, including geometric shapes in odd but intriguing pieces of artwork. While Chagall took inspiration from both these art forms, his paintings took on a style of his own, incorporating both figurative and storytelling art. Chagall was deeply connected to his Jewish identity, and tried to blend Jewish traditional styles with modern art. He also used bright colors and imagery from his hometown of Vitebsk, as well as Russian folktales and Christian and Jewish texts.
Chagall’s unorthodox yet appealing style of art soon became popular, as did his rejection of prominent art styles to form a tradition of his own. His first art show was at the Der Sturm Gallery in Berlin in 1912. In 1918, he was appointed the Commisar for Art in Vitebsk, and he founded the Vitebsk Popular Art School. From then on, Chagall continued to travel around the world to further his craft. He moved to Moscow, and then traveled to various countries in the 1930s, including the Netherlands, Spain, Poland, and Italy. His trip to Palestine during that time also inspired a series of paintings in a style called gouache. Gouache refers to a method of watercolor painting with opaque paints that are made using pigments ground up and thickened by a viscous, glue-like substance.
The prosecution of Jewish people during World War II caused Chagall to flee to the United States during the 1940s; when the war ended, he settled down in France and had exhibitions in various European countries. He also painted commissions for buildings around the world, including the Met Opera House in New York, the Paris Opera ceiling, and the Hadassah University Medical Center synagogue in Jerusalem. Chagall passed away in France in 1985, but not before leaving his signature mark across the globe.