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Five fun Chagall facts

From the drab surroundings of the Jewish quarter (or “shtetl”) in the city of Vitebsk in Belarus, Chagall created a highly personal style of modern art. Yet his themes of love, loss, joy, memory and family are universal. Chagall combined real and dream worlds into richly coloured fantasies where people fly and animals cavort.

We’ll be sharing a wealth of fascinating information about Chagall and his contemporaries over the coming weeks but just to get you started here are five facts about Chagall you can use to impress your friends and family.

  1. Chagall was born in 1887 and died in 1985 at the impressive age of 97. That means during his lifetime the Wright Brothers made their first flight in an airplane, the first man landed on the moon and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was released at the cinema!

  2. Chagall, born Moishe Shagal, grew up in Vitebsk in Belarus and was the oldest of nine children.

  3. “The sun of art shone only in Paris,” Chagall once said. He moved there in 1911, settling in La Ruche (French for “the beehive”), a complex of more than 100 studios. There he lived alongside many immigrant Russian artists including Archipenko, Zadkine and Lipchitz.

  4. Chagall was fascinated by the circus and theatre. In the early 1920s he designed costumes, sets and murals for Moscow’s Jewish Chamber Theater. In subsequent decades he returned repeatedly to the theme of the circus for inspiration.

  5. Chagall’s famous Double Portrait With Wine Glass, a depiction of Chagall with his wife Bella, is the first time in the history of art that an artist chose to depict the groom balancing on the shoulders of his bride. This unique pose may refer to the Jewish wedding rite when the couple is carried and thrown into the air by their guests.


    Chagall and the Russian Avant- Garde opens at the AGO on October 18.  

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