Marc Chagall (1887-1985). This Russian-born French painter and designer is recognized as one of the most significant painters of the 20th century. His work, distinguished by its surreal inventiveness, 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.
Born in Vitebsk, Russia (now Belarus), Chagall studied art in Saint Petersburg and then in Paris, where he remained until 1914. Returning to Russia after the Russian Revolution, he served as director of the Art Academy in Vitebsk and as art director of the Moscow Jewish State Theater, painting several murals in the theater lobby.
Chagall's distinctive use of color and form was influenced by Russian Expressionism and French Cubism. His numerous works represent vivid recollections of Russian Jewish village scenes, as well as incidents in his private life. Biblical themes characterize a series of etchings executed between 1925 and 1939 illustrating the Old Testament as well as the famous stained-glass windows at the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem which represent the twelve tribes. Chagall also executed many prints illustrating literary classics.