Marc Chagall was a Russian-born French painter and designer, distinguished for his surrealistic inventiveness. He is recognized as one of the most significant painters and graphic artists of the 20th century. His work treats subjects in a vein of humor and fantasy that draws deeply on the resources of the unconscious. Chagall’s personal and unique imagery is often suffused with exquisite poetic inspiration.
Chagall’s distinctive use of color and form is derived partly from Russian expressionism and was influenced decisively by French cubism. Crystallizing his style early, as in “Candles in the Dark”, he later developed subtle variations.
His numerous works represent characteristically vivid recollections of Russian-Jewish village scenes, as in “I and the Village” and incidents in his private life, as in the print series “Mein Leben” (German for “My Life”), in addition to treatments of Jewish subjects, of which “The Praying Jew” is one.
His works combine recollection with folklore and fantasy.
Biblical themes characterized a series of etchings illustrating the Old Testament and the 12 stained-glass windows in the Hadassah Hospital of the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center in Jerusalem.
Chagall executed many prints illustrating literary classics. A canvas completed in 1964 covers the ceiling of the Opera in Paris and two large murals hang in the lobby of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City.