Chagall – happiness isn’t happiness without a violin-playing goat

Marc Chagall, the Russian-born French artist, is recognized as one of the most noteworthy artists of the twentieth century. His work treats life with a streak of absurdity and fantasy that goes deep beyond the unconsciousness.

Born July 7, 1887, in Belarus, Chagall studied art in Saint Petersburg. From 1910 to 1914 Chagall moved to Paris to continue his studies. After the Russian Revolution, Chagall was appointed Director of the Moscow Jewish State Theater. Chagall painted several murals and created the scenery for numerous productions. In 1923, Chagall moved to France, where he spent the rest of his life, except for a period of exile in New York from 1941 to 1948. He died in France in 1985.

Chagall was heavily influenced by French Cubism, and his distinctive use of color and form is derived partly from Russian expressionism. Perfecting his work early, as in Lovers with Half Moon, he later developed subtle nuances. Many of Chagall’s famous paintings represent memories of Characteristic Russian-Jewish village scenes, as in The Wedding Candles, and occurrences from his private life, as in the The Cow with The Parasol, in addition to Russian-Jewish symbolism, his works combine childhood memories with Russian-Jewish folklore and fantasy.

Although his works abound with reflection, he neglected to portray the turmoil which he experienced. He communicates to those who view his works with happiness and optimism by means of vivid colors and peculiar scenes. After all, “happiness isn’t happiness without a violin-playing goat,” said Anna Scott played by Julia Roberts in reference to a Chagall oil painting (taken from the movie “Notting Hill”…).

Biblical themes characterize a series of etchings done between 1925 and 1939, illustrations from the Old Testament. In 1973 National Museum of the Marc Chagall Biblical Message was opened in Nice, France, to house hundreds of his biblical masterpieces.

Chagall involved himself in large-scale projects involving public spaces and important civic and religious buildings. One of the more famous murals can be found in New York at the United Nations Headquarters. The UN commemorated this work of art with a postage stamp.
Chagall’s works fit into several modern art categories. He took part in the movements of the Paris art world which preceded World War I. However, his work always found itself on the margins of these movements and emerging trends, including Cubism and Fauvism.

About the Author

Amitai Sasson of is an art world traveler on a mission to seek out the beauty and passion of the art world. As an avid enthusiast of art and oil paintings, he contributes to as Chief editor and writer.