Marc Chagall: “Great art picks up where nature ends”.
Born Moishe Shagal on 6th July 1887 in Lioza near Vitebsk Russian Empire. He died on 28th March 1985 in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France. Chagall was a Russian-French artist of Belarusian Jewish origin. He worked in virtually every artistic format including painting, book illustrations, stained glass, stage sets, ceramic, tapestries and fine art prints. Using the medium of stained glass he produced windows for the cathedrals of Reims and Metz, windows for the UN, and the Jerusalem Windows in Israel. He also did large scale paintings, including part of the ceiling of the Paris Opera.
Before WW1 Chagall travelled between Saint Petersburg, Paris and Berlin. During this time he created his own mixture and style of modern art based on his idea of Eastern European Jewish folk culture. He spent the war years in Soviet Belarus becoming one of the country’s most distinguished artists and a member of the modernist avant-garde before leaving for Paris in 1922. He experienced modernism’s “golden age” in Paris where he synthesized the art forms of Cubism, Symbolism and Fauvism, and the influence of Fauvism gave rise to Surrealism. Yet throughout these phases he remained emphatically a Jewish artist.
Swept up in the horrors of European history between 1914 and 1945, world wars, revolution, ethnic persecution, the murder and exile of millions, Chagall turned his experiences of suffering and tragedy into images that were simple and symbolic to which everyone could respond. This at a time when other major artists fled reality for abstration.
On the north side of Chichester Cathedral, West Sussex, there is a stained glass window designed and created by Chagall at the age of 90. The window, his last commissioned work, was inspired by Psalm 150. ‘Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord’.