Marc Chagall, born in 1887 in the Russian town of Vitebsk, had a sharp intellect coupled with immense empathy for human struggles and hardships. His father was a factory worker that supported Chagall along with his mother and his seven siblings.
Chagall had a benefactor that sent him to Paris in 1910. He received a monthly stipend from this rich patron. Chagall quickly rejected cubism, fauvism and futurism, but remained in Paris. He refused to join with other surrealists and continued on his own path, which was largely influenced by the mysticism and fantastic lore and legend that are the foundations of the Hasidic Jewish people.
Some recurring themes in Chagall’s work include music, the circus, animals, and euphoric lovers. His impassioned palette grew out of his dream world, using color to evoke emotion and to unify a composition. The lightness of the work has an underlying seriousness to it, alongside one is usually the other. Much of his work refers to his childhood.
He was a leading modernist and is considered one of the most important artists of the 20th century. It is generally acknowledged that he synthesized the visual elements of Cubism, Symbolism, Fauvism and Surrealism into his own distinctive style.
Picasso once remarked, “When Matisse dies, Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what colour really is.”