Научная статья на тему 'Marc Chagall's biography as the basis of understanding his work (in the system of a studying course history of arts)'

Marc Chagall's biography as the basis of understanding his work (in the system of a studying course history of arts) Текст научной статьи по специальности «Искусствоведение»

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Ключевые слова

Аннотация научной статьи по искусствоведению, автор научной работы — Abdurazakova E.R., Abdurazakova D.S.

The article describes the work of Mark Zakharovich Chagall. His work is one of the most difficult works to perceive artistic directions for students in the course «History of Arts». The creative aesthetics of the artist is unusually complex and diverse. That is why the basis for studying the artistic world of the artist is to put the biographical method of investigation. This article analyzes the main milestones of life and creativity of the outstanding artist. Here are also identified the key dominants of his artistic manner.

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Статья посвящена биографии Марка Захаровича Шагала, чье творчество является одним из трудно воспринимаемых студентами художественных специальностей и направлений при изучении курса «История искусств». Творческая эстетика художника необыкновенна сложна и многообразна. Вот почему в основу изучения художественного мира художника необходимо положить биографический метод исследования. В данной статье проанализированы основные вехи жизни и творчества выдающегося живописца, выявлены ключевые доминанты его художественной манеры.

Текст научной работы на тему «Marc Chagall's biography as the basis of understanding his work (in the system of a studying course history of arts)»


УДК 7.03


кандидат филологических наук, доцент, кафедра изобразительного искусства и дизайна, Приамурский государственный университет имени Шолом-Алейхема E-mail: elenaab79@mail.ru АБДУРАЗАКОВА Д.С.

магистрант, кафедра европейских и восточных языков, Приамурский государственный университет имени Шолом-Алейхема E-mail: di_anna95@mail.ru

UDC 7.03


Candidate of philological sciences, associate professor, department of art and design, Sholom-Aleichem Priamursky

State University E-mail: elenaab79@mail.ru ABDURAZAKOVA D.S. Postgraduate, Sholom-Aleichem Priamursky State University

E-mail: di_anna95@mail.ru



Статья посвящена биографии Марка Захаровича Шагала, чье творчество является одним из трудно воспринимаемых студентами художественным специальностей и направлений при изучении курса «История искусств». Творческая эстетика художника необыкновенна сложна и многообразна. Вот почему в основу изучения художественного мира художника необходимо положить биографический метод исследования. В данной статье проанализированы основные вехи жизни и творчества выдающегося живописца, выявлены ключевые доминанты его художественной манеры.

Ключевые слова: Марк Шагал, биография, экспрессионизм, еврейское мироощущение, архетип детства, Витебск.

The article describes the work of Mark Zakharovich Chagall. His work is one of the most difficult works to perceive artistic directions for students in the course «History of Arts». The creative aesthetics of the artist is unusually complex and diverse. That is why the basis for studying the artistic world of the artist is to put the biographical method of investigation. This article analyzes the main milestones of life and creativity of the outstanding artist. Here are also identified the key dominants of his artistic manner.

Keywords: Marc Chagall, biography, expressionism, Jewish worldview, archetype of childhood, Vitebsk.

Marc Chagall was born June 6, 1887 in Vitebsk. However, he subsequently mystified the date of his birth: he wrote and said that he was born on July 7, 1887. The artist wanted the date of his birth to symbolize the three sevens (07/07/1887), as he thought this combination was symbolic and happy. Chagall was the first child in a large Jewish family. His parents were in real kinship, they were cousins. Marc was born without signs of life, so the midwife pierced him with needles and poured with ice water. Thanks to these actions, the boy returned to life. At birth he received the name Moses, in his childhood his relatives called him Moshka, he will take the name of Mark later. In addition, the real name of Chagall was Segal, the variant «Chagall» he would also come up with later. On the night of Chagall's birth in Vitebsk there was a severe fire, which the artist will mystify later and will consider as a symbol of his creative burning. He will depict fire as a hint of the circumstances of his birth in many paintings. For example, on the picture «Flying sledges» we will see a flying red-haired woman that is holding a child; according to the artist's opinion - it is him. Instead of a horse, we see a cock in a sleigh, and a rooster is a fire element. Even in his early childhood the fortune teller predicted to him that he would have an unusual fate, he would fly all his life and die in flight.

Chagall's father worked as a loader in a herring shop, that is why, as the artist recalled, he always smelled like fish. My mother was holding a grocery store. The family lived very poorly but the house was always opened for guests and relatives. The Chagalls had a lot of relatives. The interior of the house of the Chagalls is well represented in the artist's paintings. The image of the house is a favorite motif in the paintings of the painter, which is a symbol of childhood, family and homeland. From childhood, according to the memories of his relatives, he was a kind, modest and shy person. In his childhood, Chagall often visited his grandfather in Livorno, who was a respected man - a cattle carver, but he was a strange person. The old man often took the boy to the fair, where he fooled the people with various jokes. The old man could run without pants down the street, loved to sit with him in the attic and watched from above what was happening to the neighbors and on the road. It is not by chance that we see street scenes in Chagall's paintings which are written from a high point of view. Chagall adored street stories: he loved writing weddings and burials, he also enjoyed to write about his grandfather sitting on the roof. All these everyday scenes of a street life the artist will later mythologize in his paintings.

Chagall was very bad educated at school, he was an

© Абдуразакова Е.Р., Абдуразакова Д.С. © Abdurazakova E.R., Abdurazakova D.S.

extremely inattentive and distracted child. Having studied up to 16 years in a Jewish school - heder, he (for a bribe) was arranged in the third class of the urban real school. However, even here he could not become a diligent pupil, and for his low academic performance he was often persecuted by the chief inspector of the school. By the way, as a child, Chagall almost did not have any friends. Because of poor performance, children pinched, beat and humiliated him at school and all these things led to the fact that Mark began to stutter. Chagall could only get rid of this defect in adulthood. Once, when Chagall was in 5th grade, his sworn enemy brought a picture to school, which he redrawn from the painting of another artist. Mark thought that he also could copy pictures the same way from the magazine which is called «Niva». Mark hung all his drawings on the walls of his house. One day his friend, seeing his drawings for the first time, called Chagall an artist. Mark was very surprised about it. He remembered that he had seen the signboard «Artist Peng» in the city. The boy began to beg his mother to give him as a pupil to the painter, the painter of the classical Repin school to Yehuda Peng, but the persuasion did not help, and then the boy tragically pronounced the sacred phrase: «Save me, mother» [4]. These words became decisive, and she led him to the artist. The painter was not at home at that time, but they were allowed to see the artist's studio, and after watching Chagall's Mom said: «Son, you'll never be able to do like this»[4]. And Mark thought that he did not want to paint like that, he wanted, but in a different way. Artist Peng, immediately determined that the boy had a big talent, took him to the pupils for free. Among the other disciples of Pan was the son of the rich merchant Avigdor (Victor) Mekler, who respected Chagall and asked him to give him lessons in painting. But Mark refused and offered him a friendship in return. Later this friendship with Victor Mekler will brighten up his many years. Despite his painting lessons, his parents gave Mark as a pupil to a photographer. But the painting attracted the boy more. After graduation, his friend Victor Mekler told Chagall that he was going to St. Petersburg to continue to study painting, and he invited Mark to go with him. The future artist made a firm decision to devote himself to painting, and in 1907 he left his home forever. On the last evening before his departure, his father took out 27 rubles from his pants pocket, threw them on the floor under the table and said rudely: «That's all I have, I can't help you, don't count on my help!» [4]. All his life Chagall will remember the resentment, shame and humiliation that he experienced when he crawled on the floor, collecting pennies and bitterly shedding because of the insult that his father had inflicted to him.

Chagall's life in Petersburg was bitter and hard, he was crushed by poverty, starving, read. He read a menu in the dining room as a poem. In addition, he failed examinations at the school of painting, and later was detained by gendarmes for the lack of a residence permit in St. Petersburg. And he was happy, because he was fed in a prison. Then he entered the School of the Society for the Encouragement of Artists. This school was led by Roerich. Chagall wanted to study in the class of artistic cutting, but he also could not pass the exams there, but permanently got respect for this kind of arts and crafts. In the early stages of creativity Chagall was fond of icon painting and often painted his self-portraits in the icon painting style.

In St. Petersburg Chagall met Teia Brahman, a beautiful and intelligent girl who studied music and studied German. Subsequently, only thanks to Tee, the fateful acquaintance of

Chagall with Bella Rosenfeld, a daughter of a rich jeweler, will happen. Bella graduated from Moscow University, cooperated in newspapers as a journalist, was literary gifted and later published two novels: «The First Meeting» and «Lighted Lights». Moreover, she had stage abilities and attended Stanislavsky's studio. But in 1920 she left the stage because of a leg injury. Bella was very fond of organizing amateur theatrical performances in Thea's house. Most of all she liked to play brides. That is why later, Marc Chagall often portrayed Bella in her canvases as a bride.

After several unsuccessful attempts, Chagall managed to enroll to Zvantseva's school, where his leading teacher became Lev Bakst. In the society of the «World of Art», mannerism, stylization, aestheticism, and chamberiness prevailed, and the pedagogical system was distinguished by its breadth and tolerance. Bakst hoped to awaken the naive eyes of the savage in the young artist. He achieved the strengthening of a color, the emancipation of a stroke from students. Chagall gave the priority to the combination of colors. He directed the students to monumental and decorative works. The most important thing that he got from Bakst at this school was the knowledge about the work of European artists. Thanks to Bakst's lectures on the history of European art, his students felt themselves connected to the process of the world art. The works of his students of that time were close to Post-impressionists, Fauvists and Cubists. Bakst wrote: «Chagall is my favorite student. And the thing what I like about him is that after he listens to my lectures, he takes brushes and paints the things that do not resemble what I just said. It is a sign of a strong» [2].

It is worth to notice that Bakst was not only attentive to Chagall in the classroom, but also paid for his education at Zvantseva's school. The artist Alexander Rom who studied with him on the same course, recalled: «He was not naive, his companions did not like him because of jealousy» [1].

Chagall took most of all not from his mentors, but from the world art. Every year Lev Bakst went to Paris in order to decorate the Diaghilev seasons. And once Chagall asked Bakst to take him with him (with Bakst). He dreamed of Paris and was crazy about this city. Bakst wondered if he knows how to make theatrical scenery, and the novice artist lied, saying that he knows how to make it. Lev Bakst gave money for materials to Chagall and ordered the scenery. The work did not please Bakst and he rejected them, but he promised that he would write to Mark and, possibly, even call Mark to him. After Bakst's departure, Chagall's material situation became even more complicated and one of his patrons allowed him to spend the night in an editorial office. A picture of Levitan hung on the wall in the editorial office, which Chagall decided to copy. Having finished working on the copy, he carried it to a braider-man who really liked his work. The braider-man bought the copy for 10 rubles and asked whether Chagall had the works that he could sell. Chagall collected about 50 works and brought them to the braider-man for sale. After several days Chagall went to ask him if his works were being bought, but the owner of the workshop said that he saw him for the first time and had nothing to do with him. This cruel deception became a terrible shock for the young artist. His friend Mennader bought two works from him in order to support a friend and also assigned him a maintenance of 150 francs a month and paid the way to Paris. Chagall was so poor, his clothes were so old and dirty that the customs officer on the border asked him: «Do you have

lice?». Chagall immediately fell in love with Paris. He was walking around the city in complete solitude all day because no one knew him and he did not know anybody. In this city he was particularly fascinated by two things: the special light of Paris, which he later called the light-freedom and French painting. The artist absorbed everything that Paris possessed. He visited two studios in Paris but to a greater extent, he learnt Parisian way of life. He painted hundreds of canvases in Paris, many of them were in the Cubism style. One of the artist's friends arranged an apartment exhibition for him. After this exhibition Chagall became famous. Despite falling in love with Paris, the artist missed his native Vitebsk. A huge number of paintings of this period were devoted to Vitebsk, for example, «A Self-portrait with Seven Fingers».

In 1914 yearning for home, the desire to see Bella and the sister's marriage forced the artist to return to Vitebsk. Chagall returned like a prodigal son. Here he did not cease to work, again and again he painted landscapes of Vitebsk, its' streets. He also painted portraits of his mother and his relatives. The First World War broke the artist's plans to return to Paris. The romance with Bella ended with a wedding in 1915, and already in 1916 the daughter was born. Her name was Ida. The couple were happy. Despite the difficult political situation, thanks to Bella's brother Yakov Rosenfeld, who was able to arrange Chagall at the plant (in the press review department), whose work was equated with the service, the artist was lucky to find himself in more favorable conditions. During these years he wrote many portraits of his wife and daughter. By 1917 Chagall accepted enthusiastically. He was especially pleased with the abolition of settlement and the residence permit. In Vitebsk with the support of Lunacharsky, Chagall became an authorized commissar for the arts of the Vitebsk province. And on January 28, 1919 the artist opened a school of folk crafts, where he invited many celebrities: K. Malevich, E. Lisitsky, V. Stepanov, N. Kogan, V. Ermolaeva, Dobuzhinsky and others. But this number of identities could not work together under the one roof. Soon the school was headed by Kazemir Malevich. Students began to learn Cubism, methods of decomposing forms, shifts, and then students switched over to purely abstract planar compositions. It was not at all what the founder of the school wanted. And one day on the pediment of the school, Chagall saw the signboard «School of Supremacism Art». This fact the artist could not forgive, and the offended Chagall left Vitebsk. In 1920 he left for Moscow together with his family. Moscow was terrible at that time. Granovsky came from St. Petersburg. He was instructed to create the first Jewish state theater. Chagall was invited to work to this theater as an artistdesigner. Here he created «Introduction to the Jewish Theater» which depicted a wandering theater. The artist believed that the source of the theater is a show booth, a circus. The geometrized world, geometrized universe and theater is also a universe. An inverted green cow is also depicted here at Chagall's. The green color in his paintings is always close to the ground, and the cow is the symbol of the victim, because in his opinion there is no creation without a sacrifice, there is no art without a sacrifice. In addition, on this panel (picture) he had a lot of rituals: weddings, funerals, holidays. There also were many single figures of violinists and rabbis. The prototype of the theater Chagall considered the wedding which was one of the favorite motives for his work. Chagall's paintings were taken aggressively in the Jewish theater. It was considered that

Chagall was scoffing at common sense. For that work he was not paid a single penny. Chagall moved to the suburbs to the labor colony, where he taught drawing. And at that time the disappointed Chagall came to the conclusion: «Neither the old Russia, nor the new Russia I do not need, I am not understood by them»[4].

In 1923 Chagall moved with his family to Paris. But this is another city. Amboise Volar ordered him to illustrate Gogol's poem «Dead Souls». Gogol was very close to the artist; the description of Nevsky Prospect is similar to many of Chagall's paintings. Mark Zakharovich created 96 illustrations for the poem, which later he presented the Tretyakov Gallery with the inscription «With all his love for his Motherland». During these years he was very happy. A friendly and happy family, an own profession, a good salary. The artist mastered provincial France, in his works flowers, bucolic motifs, still-life appeared. Flowers is a symbol of happiness for Chagall. The works of this period art critics later called a «beautiful style». The theme of the circus, the wandering theater returned in the works of this period. A. Vollard wrote: «The image of the game impermanence of mankind and the human person is one of the most important thing in the art of the turn of the century». Theater and circus, clowns, puppets, harlequins, Colombines invariably attracted the artist. The color and the temperament of Chagall's works were matched by the dazzling colorfulness of the circus show. The dynamism of the circus and contrast of lighting, and, in addition, the atmosphere of the circus impressed him in a purely human sense. Many people who knew Chagall, spoke of the clowning of Chagall's behavior. «For me, the circus is a magical representation, like a world that emerged from non-existence, and then disappeared». Moreover, Chagall really sympathized to those people, calling them tired and unhidden souls: «The circus seems to me the most tragic view on the Earth. This is the highest poetry». In Chagall's circus everyone is totally in love with each other.

The next order of A. Volar was the Bible, which the artist felt and loved from childhood. He referred to the Holy Bible throughout his life. «The Bible is the key to life. If people carefully had read the words of the prophets, then they would have found the keys to happiness many centuries ago». The Earth in his paintings is prehuman.

In 1937 Chagall received French citizenship. The picture «Revolution» is not a picture, but is a sketch. Franz Meer (son-in-law of Chagall) wrote that Lenin, standing on his head, symbolizes the world, which he turned over and produced a theatrical action, arranged a farce. Another biographer of Chagall, Alexander Sydney wrote: «Of course, everything is clear. He turned the USSR into a circus. This is a new priest for Russia». The composition in this work broke up and he made a triptych out of it. The first part is liberation, the middle part is the crucified Christ. Christ was a revolutionary for him.

In 1933 Hitler came to power and began the persecution of Jews. Chagall was seriously worried about these tragic events. Because of it in 1938 he painted the picture «The White Crucifixion» in which Christ is wrapped in a ritual bedspread, and to the right is the fascist who burns the synagogue, and to the left the Red Army comes.

In 1940, Chagall received an invitation to come to the United States, and in 1941 he came to Marseilles to sail to America, but he was arrested by the fascists. At the last moment he was rescued and freed by the Americans and, together with

his family, he actually fled to America, avoiding death.

The first thing that Chagall began to write in the US was the picture about the war and Vitebsk or, more accurately, the «Weeping» for Vitebsk. These themes sounded in the film «Delusion». But the military theme did not oust the beautiful things from his work. In 1942 he executed the play «Aleko» in Mexico. From 1942 to 1944 he worked a lot as an artist decorator in various theaters.

In 1944 year became one of the most tragic in his life - Chagall's beloved wife Bella died. She died in three days, although, as it turned out later, she was sick for a long time, but she did not tell anyone. A few months before her death, Bella managed to finish the books «First Meeting» and «Lighted Lights». After the death of his wife, Marc Chagall moved to his daughter, Eden in New York. Bella's death was the most terrible blow for him: «The darkness descended into my eyes». In all his paintings he wrote Ida with a quiver and gentleness, she was a Jewish bride in all his paintings. Many years later, in 1973 in Moscow, when he was already married again, visiting the widow of Mikhoels, he suddenly burst into tears. He saw a photo of Solomon Mikhoels sitting with Bella. Mikhoels's wife later wrote: "In 1916 Ida's daughter was born and Chagall brought flowers. Bella looked at the flowers and said: «What a pity that this beauty will die soon». And then he wrote her these flowers on a picture and added: «Let our Idochka live as long as this picture will live».

After Bella's death, it was very hard to her daughter to take care of her father: she could not darn socks, cooked badly, etc., so she found him a housekeeper - Virginia Haggard-McNeil (1914-2006), who very quickly approached the artist and became his unofficial wife. At first Chagall wanted to marry her, but Virginia was still officially married to another person who did not give her a divorce. And later, when it became possible, Chagall did not want to marry her anymore. Their relationships lasted 7 years. Virginia bore him the long-awaited son - David, whom he named after his brother. About the birth of his son Chagall told Picasso who was very touched by this letter.

In 1948 Chagall returned to Paris. By that time Paris was the second Vitebsk for him. Since 1950 he lived in his house in Voloris between Nice and Cannes. Picasso lived next to Cannes with whom they were very friendly during those years, but later the artists quarreled.

In 1951, Chagall and Virginia visited a newborn state -Israel. They liked this country very much.

After returning from Israel, there was a gap between Virginia and Chagall. The reason was the following story: Belgian Charles Leyrens came to the artist came to shoot a film about Chagall. Virginia was asked to help him, as a result of fellowship, Charles and Virginia fell in love. Her departure was a shock to the artist, Chagall was in a rage that he was exchanged for an ordinary, sick photographer in the heyday of fame, moreover, a year older than him. Virginia and Leyrens lived together for 12 years. After 2 years Charles Laurence was diagnosed with cancer of the spine. For many years he was bedridden and Virginia had been his nurse for many years. Laurence passed away in 1964. Before his death they lived in Brussels. His son David became a rock musician, and Virginia

lived in England. After the break Chagall and Virginia met only once, at the exhibition: they shook hands, Chagall kissed Virginia's son and left.

In the spring of 1952 the artist met Valentina Brodskaya, a clever and intelligent woman, brilliantly educated. She had a great sense of humor. He was fascinated by her, fell under her charm. She was born in 1905 in Kiev where her family owned a large sugar production. After the revolution she left Ukraine, graduated from school in Berlin, married in London for an Englishman, but in 1938 she parted with him. She owned a fashion showroom in London, then moved to Paris in order to be closer to her brother, who personally knew Chagall and Bella. The artist began to call her «Vava», after some time she would become his muse for many years. He required to her not only his physical longevity, but also his best works: stained-glass windows for cathedrals, murals of the ceiling of the Parisian opera. But Vava fenced him off from everyone, even from Ida's daughter. When he tried to present some picture to Ida, it immediately turned out that this picture was already promised to someone by Vava.

In the late period of his work, the portrait once again appeared in his works as a single and double portrait as an act of love initiation. It was reflected in such works as «The Artist and His Wife» and «The Flight». These years he also began to be fond of monumental art forms.

In 1973 there was the exhibition of Chagall in Moscow, where he was invited by Furtseva Minister of Culture. In Moscow he was offered to visit Vitebsk, but the artist refused, saying: «I will not survive it». From Russia he went to Nice to the opening the museum «The Biblical Message of Marc Chagall», where the exposition began with the image of Moses with the tablets, then we see the image of King David, who plays the lute, on the right sits David with Virsavia in the images of Chagall and Bella. Then we see the night Jerusalem. In addition, Chagall dedicated five paintings to the Song of Songs. In his works he forgives the sin of King David with Virsavia because it is love and it can happen to everyone. The artist said: «There, where love, there cannot be judged» [2].

The recent 25 years were a bouquet of roses for him. Many pictures were festive in nature, but tragic moods also appeared with leaving: «With age, the tragedy of life is around the us and inside us» [3].

He wrote a lot of nocturnal themes and cited Paula Klee, who spoke of a «joyfully jumping tear». In 1967 the artist built his house, where he lived until the end of his days. He achieved a huge lifetime of fame and was awarded a huge number of orders. When the artist was asked about his artistic method, various terms and concepts were given, trying to comprehend his work from the point of view of art criticism, then Chagall always gave one answer to all these questions: «Sing as a bird without any theory and method». First of all, Chagall wanted to get away from a simple retelling of the visible world.

Mark Zakharovich died in 1985 in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, he died when he was lifted in the elevator. It recalled the fortuneteller who predicted to him in his early childhood that he would have an unusual fate, he would fly all his life and would die in a flight. A. Voznesensky also said that he died just as he did - flying in a flight.

Библиографический список

1. АпчинскаяН.В. Марк Шагал и Библия. Вит.: Музей Марка Шагала, 2003. 16 с.

2. Марк Шагал. "Полеты во сне и наяву": Николай Надеждин Санкт-Петербург, Майор, Издатель А. И. Ос, 2010 г. 192 с.

3. Хмельницкая Л. В. Марк Шагал в художественной культуре Беларуси 1920--1990-х годов // Материалы X-XIV Шагаловские чтений в Витебске (2000-2004) Вып. 3. Вып. 3. С. 92-99.

4. Моя жизнь / Марк Шагал; пер. с фр. Н. Мавлевич. СПб.: Азбука, Азбука-Аттикус, 2016. 224 с.


1. ApchinskayaN.V. Marc Chagall and the Bible. Vit: The Museum of Marc Chagall, 2003. 16 p.

2. Marc Chagall. «Flights in a dream and in reality»: Nikolay Nadezhdin St. Petersburg, Major, Publisher A.I. Os, 2010 192 p.

3. Khmelnitskaya L.V Mark Shagal in the artistic culture of Belarus 1920-1990-ies. // Materials X-XIV Shagalov readings in Vitebsk (20002004). Issue. 3. Pp. 92-99.

4. My Life / Marc Chagall; trans. with fr. N. Mavlevich. SPb .: ABC, ABC-Atticus, 2016. 224 p.

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