Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

Jewish Hall of Fame: Marc Chagall

This week’s inductee is the "quintessential Jewish artist of the twentieth century"

By: Caitlin Marceau

Published: June 25th, 2014 in Culture » Art » News

Jewish Hall of Fame: Marc Chagall

Since the dawn of time, Jewish people have contributed greatly to various fields, from sports to entertainment to politics to porn. With our Breakthrough Jew feature, we recognize those who are up and comers in these various industries, identifying those great innovators and leaders in the contemporary world who are making a mark on society that will last a lifetime.

With the Jewish Hall of Fame, we recognize the remarkable advancements members of our community have made on today’s society. These are people who have truly changed the world, and have earned the respect and praise of the members of today’s younger generation.

ShalomLife’s Jewish Hall of Fame is our ongoing tribute to the greatest Jews who have ever lived; be sure to catch us weekly with our latest inductees, and tweet us @ShalomLife wih your suggestions.

Check out last week’s inductee into the Hall of Fame here.

Hall of Fame Member: Marc Chagall

Born: July 7th, 1887 in Vitebsk, Belarus

Died: March 28th, 1985, Saint-Paul de Vence, France

Born in Vitebsk, Belarus, on July 7th, 1887, Marc Chagall was the youngest of his eight siblings. His mother worked in a shop while his father worked at a fish warehouse, and both of his parents raised him, and his siblings, in a Jewish household. Chagall attended a cheder when he was younger and then attended a Russian public school.

During his time at elementary school, Chagall fell in love with art. He explored painting and drawing as artistic mediums, and eventually went on to study under the tutelage of Leon Bakst at the Imperial Society for the Protection of the Arts in St. Petersburg.

In 1910, Chagall decided to move to La Ruche, an artistic neighborhood in Paris. He began experimenting with poetry, style, and form. Due to the influences of the time, Chagall was soon introduced to both Cubism and Fauvism, and through this exposure he began to form his own artistic style, which would be his hallmark until his death. He participated in both the Salon des Independants and the Salon D’Automne. He also had his first solo showing in 1914, Berlin.

Soon after the Berlin show, Chagall moved back to his hometown of Vitebsk, Belarus, to marry his fiance Bella. Although he had only intended to stay long enough to wed her, before moving back to Paris, the first World War broke out and the Russian borders were closed, forcing him to stay in Vitebsk long than intended. While there, his work took a more realist tone as he painted the world around him, influenced by the war.

In 1915, Chagall married the woman he loved and painted both “Birthday” and “Double Portrait With A Glass Of Wine” to commemorate the love they had at the time.


“Birthday”, by Marc Chagall

With the start of the Russian Revolution, Chagall decided he would stay in Russia for a while longer. He even became the comisar for art and founded the Vitebsk Popular Art School in 1918. However, he would resign from the school in 1920, as disagreements between him and art scholars who believed that geometric shapes in art were the most important aspect to art. In 1920 he began the stage designs for the State Jewish Chamber Theatre. Despite his success, Chagall and his wife, and their young daughter, moved back to Paris.

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