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Chagall Paintings: Modern Art at its Best


Marc Chagall Paintings

The renowned Marc Chagall is considered a pioneer of modernism and the exemplary Jewish artist of the 20th century. Although he created an assortment of artwork in diverse artistic mediums, such as ceramics, sculpture, stained glass windows, tapestries, wall murals, theatre stage designs, book illustrations and fine art prints, his remarkable paintings were the ultimate avenue to his fame and fortune.

Chagall paintings can be found all over the world, housed in a wide array of famous landmarks, one of which being the New York Museum of Modern Art.

The Roots of Chagall Painting
At a young age, Marc Chagall discovered his love for art and decided to study painting in his native village of Vitebsk in Russia. In 1908, Chagall pursued his passion for art by traveling to St. Petersburg to study at the Zvantseva School of Drawing and Painting. During this time, the works of contemporary Russian artists primarily influenced Chagall’s paintings. He enjoyed doing landscapes and self-portraits, but the main subject matter of his pieces often involved images of his happy childhood and Jewish culture.

By 1910, Marc Chagall had moved to Paris to further develop his craft and create his own artistic style. Although Cubism and Fauvism were France’s leading art styles at the time, Chagall’s intention was to absorb various techniques and methods of other avant-garde artists in order to generate his own unique style.

Due to the presence of numerous other Russian immigrants in France at the time, Chagall was constantly reminded of his homeland, and more specifically, his happy family life in Vitebsk. Consequently, Chagall paintings from this period consist much of the same themes and motifs as those painted in Russia. ‘I and the Village,’ painted in 1911, is a perfect example of Chagall’s joy in portraying Russian-Jewish village life. Nonetheless, some of his paintings did include Parisian scenery.

Chagall’s Eclectic Style
Chagall paintings were often just updated versions of works he had created in Russia, with an application of fauvist and cubist techniques. They consisted of bright, strong colors that displayed a simplistic and unrealistic world, one that would immediately grasp the viewer’s attention. Some were inspired by the bible, such as ‘The Praying Jew,’ painted in 1914. Chagall also depicted musicians, animals, workmen, lovers, as well as the recurring ‘fiddler on the roof’ character that made up many of his paintings during those years in France.

Marc Chagall was considered a surrealist as well, given that he combined impressionist and cubist techniques. His paintings were deemed exceptionally imaginative, poetic, dreamlike, and fantastical. Examples of his surrealist works include: ‘The Fiddler,’ which involves an enormous fiddler character dancing on the roof of a miniature building, and ‘Paris Through the Window,’ which features an animal with a human face and a phantom figure in the sky’s background.

Marc Chagall’s Late Years
With World War I behind him and most of his earlier works lost, Chagall began creating more oil paintings representing the early memories of his life in his native Russian village. Following the end of World War II and the death of his wife, Chagall became depressed and his subject matter subsequently reflected his dark mood. Chagall then found his way back to France where his focus veered toward stained glass, ceramics, murals, theater sets, and other art mediums.

Chagall’s Jewish themes, his use of vibrant colors, and his depictions of his childhood were the sustaining fabric of his paintings and earned him long-lasting popularity. The artist credited his Jewish cultural background as one of the most crucial aspects to his artistic imagination. He stated that he could not help but draw exceptional material from his past.

However, during the later years of his life, it was revealed that Chagall stopped practicing Judaism, and began adopting both Jewish and Christian themes in his work in order to create a more universal message. Not only is Marc Chagall deemed one of the greatest Jewish modernistic artists of the 20th century, but Chagall paintings are timeless.

About the Author
Julie Gladstone is an aspiring artist and avid Marc Chagall fan. She provides content for the Marc Chagall Paintings website.

 


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