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 distinctive use of color and form is derived partly from Russian expressionism and was influenced decisively by French cubism. His personal and unique imagery is often suffused with exquisite poetic inspiration.
Chagall was born July 7, 1887, in Vitsyebsk, Russia (now in Belarus), and was educated in art in Saint Petersburg and, from 1910, in Paris, where he remained until 1914. Between 1915 and 1917 he lived in Saint Petersburg; after the Russian Revolution he was director of the Art Academy in Vitsyebsk from 1918 to 1919 and was art director of the Moscow Jewish State Theater from 1919 to 1922. Chagall painted several murals in the theater lobby and executed the settings for numerous productions. In 1923, he moved to France, where he spent the rest of his life, except for a period of residence in the United States from 1941 to 1948. He died in St. Paul de Vence, France, on March 28, 1985.
In 1973 Musée National Message Biblique Marc Chagall (National Museum of the Marc Chagall Biblical Message) was opened in Nice, France, to house hundreds of his biblical works. Chagall executed many prints illustrating literary classics. A canvas completed in 1964 covers the ceiling of the Opéra in Paris, and two large murals (1966) hang in the lobby of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City.