The Paris Opera unveils a sensational new ceiling painted as something special by Belorussian-born artist Marc Chagall, who spent a lot of his life in France. The ceiling was typical of Chagall’s masterpieces-childlike in its apparent simplicity yet luminous with color and evocative of the planet of dreams and the subconscious.
Marc Chagall was created in the city of Vitebsk in the Russian empire in 1887. His parents were Jewish merchants, and the society he was raised in was in lots of ways a survival from the medieval era. The Jewish and Russian folkloric themes to which he was exposed in his youth would inform his artwork throughout his career. He used drawing as a kid and in 1906 visited St. Petersburg to review art by using a rich Jewish patron. In 1908, he was invited to the Zvantseva School to review beneath the prestigious theater designer Leon Bakst and that year produced one of is own great works, The Dead Man, a nightmarish painting inspired by way of a brush with death.
In 1910, another Jewish patron sent Chagall to Paris, rescuing him from what may have been a lifetime career confined to folk art. In Paris-the center of the Western art world-he was embraced by avant-garde artists who encouraged him to exploit the seemingly irrational tendencies of his art. Imaginative works like I and the Village (1911) generated widespread enthusiasm, and Chagall entered the artistic phase that lots of seen as his best. His pictures, wrought in a number of artistic mediums, showed a fantastical world where people, animals, along with other figurative elements were cast in bright and unusual colors and appeared to dance and float over the canvas.
He had his first one-man show in Berlin in 1914 sufficient reason for the outbreak of World War I was stranded in Russia throughout a stop by at Vitebsk. He welcomed the Russian Revolution of 1917, which provided full citizenship for Russian Jews and brought official recognition of Chagall and his art. He was made a commissar for art in the Vitebsk region and helped set up a local museum and art academy. However, he was soon annoyed by aesthetic and political quarrels and in 1922 left Soviet Russia for the West.
He was welcomed being an idol by the Surrealists, who saw in Chagall paintings like Paris Through the Window (1913) a significant precursor with their own irrational and dream-like art. He used engraving and produced a huge selection of illustrations for special editions of Nikolai Gogol’s Dead Souls, Jean de La Fontaine’s Fables, and the Bible. In 1941, he fled along with his wife from Nazi-occupied Paris to the United States, where he lived around New York City for seven years. War-induced pessimism and sadness on the death of his wife infused a lot of his art out of this period, as observed in the Yellow Crucifixion (1943) and Around Her (1945). In 1945, he designed the sets and costumes for the New York production of Igor Stravinsky’s The Firebird, and in 1946 Chagall was presented with a retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art.
In 1948, he returned to France, and finally settled in the French Riviera village of St. Paul de Vence, his home for the others of his life. In 1958, he designed the sets and costumes for a production of Maurice Ravel’s ballet Daphnis et Chloe at the Paris Opera. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, he produced stained-glass windows, first for a cathedral in Metz, France, and for a synagogue in Jerusalem. In 1964, Chagall completed a stained-glass window for the United Nations building in New York that has been focused on the late Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold.
Meanwhile, Andre Malraux, the French minister of culture, commissioned him to create a fresh ceiling for the Paris Opera after seeing Chagall’s work in Daphnis et Chloe. Working with a surface of 560 square meters, Chagall divided the ceiling into color zones he filled up with landscapes and figures representing the luminaries of opera and ballet. The ceiling was unveiled on September 23, 1964, throughout a performance of exactly the same Daphnis et Chloe. As usual, several detractors condemned Chagall’s are overly primitive, but this criticism was drowned out in the overall acclaim for the ongoing work. In 1966, as something special to the town that had sheltered him during World War II, he painted two vast murals for New York’s Metropolitan Opera House (1966).
In 1977, France honored Chagall with a retrospective exhibition at the Louvre in Paris. He continued to work vigorously until his death in 1985 at age 97.