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“When Matisse dies,” Pablo Picasso remarked in the 1950s, “Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what color really is.” As a pioneer of modernism and one of the greatest figurative artists of the twentieth century, Marc Chagall achieved fame and fortune, and over the course of a long career created some of the best-known and most-loved paintings of our time “When Matisse dies,” Pablo Picasso remarked in the 1950s, “Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what color really is.” As a pioneer of modernism and one of the greatest figurative artists of the twentieth century, Marc Chagall achieved fame and fortune, and over the course of a long career created some of the best-known and most-loved paintings of our time. Yet behind this triumph lay struggle, heartbreak, bitterness, frustration, lost love, exile—and above all the miracle of survival. Born into near poverty in Russia in 1887, the son of a Jewish herring merchant, Chagall fled the repressive “potato-colored” tsarist empire in 1911 for Paris. There he worked alongside Modigliani and Léger in the tumbledown tenement called La Ruche, where “one either died or came out famous.” But turmoil lay ahead—war and revolution; a period as an improbable artistic commissar in the young Soviet Union; a difficult existence in Weimar Germany, occupied France, and eventually the United States. Throughout, as Jackie Wullschlager makes plain in this groundbreaking biography, he never ceased giving form on canvas to his dreams, longings, and memories. His subject, more often than not, was the shtetl life of his childhood, the wooden huts and synagogues, the goatherds, rabbis, and violinists—the whole lost world of Eastern European Jewry. Wullschlager brilliantly describes this world and evokes the characters who peopled it: Chagall’s passionate, energetic mother, Feiga-Ita; his eccentric fellow painter and teacher Bakst; his clever, intense first wife, Bella; their glamorous daughter, Ida; his tough-minded final companion and wife, Vava; and the colorful, tragic array of artist, actor, and writer friends who perished under the Stalinist regime. Wullschlager explores in detail Chagall’s complex relationship with Russia and makes clear the Russian dimension he brought to Western modernism. She shows how, as André Breton put it, “under his sole impulse, metaphor made its triumphal entry into modern painting,” and helped shape the new surrealist movement. As art critic of the Financial Times, she provides a breadth of knowledge on Chagall’s work, and at the same time as an experienced biographer she brings Chagall the man fully to life—ambitious, charming, suspicious, funny, contradictory, dependent, but above all obsessively determined to produce art of singular beauty and emotional depth. Drawing upon hitherto unseen archival material, including numerous letters from the family collection in Paris, and illustrated with nearly two hundred paintings, drawings, and photographs, Chagall is a landmark biography to rank with Hilary Spurling’s Matisse and John Richardson’s Picasso.


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“When Matisse dies,” Pablo Picasso remarked in the 1950s, “Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what color really is.” As a pioneer of modernism and one of the greatest figurative artists of the twentieth century, Marc Chagall achieved fame and fortune, and over the course of a long career created some of the best-known and most-loved paintings of our time “When Matisse dies,” Pablo Picasso remarked in the 1950s, “Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what color really is.” As a pioneer of modernism and one of the greatest figurative artists of the twentieth century, Marc Chagall achieved fame and fortune, and over the course of a long career created some of the best-known and most-loved paintings of our time. Yet behind this triumph lay struggle, heartbreak, bitterness, frustration, lost love, exile—and above all the miracle of survival. Born into near poverty in Russia in 1887, the son of a Jewish herring merchant, Chagall fled the repressive “potato-colored” tsarist empire in 1911 for Paris. There he worked alongside Modigliani and Léger in the tumbledown tenement called La Ruche, where “one either died or came out famous.” But turmoil lay ahead—war and revolution; a period as an improbable artistic commissar in the young Soviet Union; a difficult existence in Weimar Germany, occupied France, and eventually the United States. Throughout, as Jackie Wullschlager makes plain in this groundbreaking biography, he never ceased giving form on canvas to his dreams, longings, and memories. His subject, more often than not, was the shtetl life of his childhood, the wooden huts and synagogues, the goatherds, rabbis, and violinists—the whole lost world of Eastern European Jewry. Wullschlager brilliantly describes this world and evokes the characters who peopled it: Chagall’s passionate, energetic mother, Feiga-Ita; his eccentric fellow painter and teacher Bakst; his clever, intense first wife, Bella; their glamorous daughter, Ida; his tough-minded final companion and wife, Vava; and the colorful, tragic array of artist, actor, and writer friends who perished under the Stalinist regime. Wullschlager explores in detail Chagall’s complex relationship with Russia and makes clear the Russian dimension he brought to Western modernism. She shows how, as André Breton put it, “under his sole impulse, metaphor made its triumphal entry into modern painting,” and helped shape the new surrealist movement. As art critic of the Financial Times, she provides a breadth of knowledge on Chagall’s work, and at the same time as an experienced biographer she brings Chagall the man fully to life—ambitious, charming, suspicious, funny, contradictory, dependent, but above all obsessively determined to produce art of singular beauty and emotional depth. Drawing upon hitherto unseen archival material, including numerous letters from the family collection in Paris, and illustrated with nearly two hundred paintings, drawings, and photographs, Chagall is a landmark biography to rank with Hilary Spurling’s Matisse and John Richardson’s Picasso.

30 review for Chagall: A Biography

  1. 5 out of 5

    James Murphy

    This is pretty good biography. But it didn't begin to interest me until the 1940s in Chagall's life. At that time, already living in exile in France to escape the harsh regime of the Soviet Union, Chagall and his family were forced to flee to America to escape the Nazis. The chapters dealing with America and the subsequent return to life in France after the war have more appeal. It's in those years that love became more important to Chagall as the primary source for his art. Wullschlager's style This is pretty good biography. But it didn't begin to interest me until the 1940s in Chagall's life. At that time, already living in exile in France to escape the harsh regime of the Soviet Union, Chagall and his family were forced to flee to America to escape the Nazis. The chapters dealing with America and the subsequent return to life in France after the war have more appeal. It's in those years that love became more important to Chagall as the primary source for his art. Wullschlager's style and organization of the narrative are a bit pedestrian. In fact, they lumber along a bit, but in the end she allows love and art to trump exile.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Peter Higgins

    This is a great biography of Chagall, but it's also much more than that. The first half of the book, covering the period up to Chagall's departure from Russia in 1922, uses Chagall's life as a point of entry to bring back to life an extraordinary, important, vanished world. Starting with a richly detailed and evocative re-creation of life in the Belorussian shtetl of Vitebsk (which was utterly obliterated in 1941) Jackie Wullschager follows Chagall to Petersburg and Moscow and back to Vitebsk. S This is a great biography of Chagall, but it's also much more than that. The first half of the book, covering the period up to Chagall's departure from Russia in 1922, uses Chagall's life as a point of entry to bring back to life an extraordinary, important, vanished world. Starting with a richly detailed and evocative re-creation of life in the Belorussian shtetl of Vitebsk (which was utterly obliterated in 1941) Jackie Wullschager follows Chagall to Petersburg and Moscow and back to Vitebsk. She uses Chagall and his contemporaries to open up a vivid and wide-ranging account of what it was like, on a human scale, to experience the coming of war, the enormous release of creative energy in the early years of the Bolshevik revolution, and the collapse into oppression and fear.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

    Although it's extremely well-researched, I find reading about some of the minutiae of Chagall's life a grind after 100 pages. It's a pity because the author is trying to show the relationaship between his life's experiences & his art but has included too much trivia so it feels like hard work wading through everything to get to the core. Although it's extremely well-researched, I find reading about some of the minutiae of Chagall's life a grind after 100 pages. It's a pity because the author is trying to show the relationaship between his life's experiences & his art but has included too much trivia so it feels like hard work wading through everything to get to the core.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Judith Winters

    Jackie Wullschlager had just the right mix of historical data and display of artistic talent of her renown subject Marc Chagall that I could pick the book up after a long absence and finish it in one sitting. Although not a past fan of modernist art the description of Chagall’s thought process as he went through the painstaking process of making one great artistic display after another in the midst of war, hard economic times, and family upheaval all relevant to what made Chagall the master of m Jackie Wullschlager had just the right mix of historical data and display of artistic talent of her renown subject Marc Chagall that I could pick the book up after a long absence and finish it in one sitting. Although not a past fan of modernist art the description of Chagall’s thought process as he went through the painstaking process of making one great artistic display after another in the midst of war, hard economic times, and family upheaval all relevant to what made Chagall the master of modern art that the author so thoroughly explored. Wonderful attention to detail made the story of Marc Chagall come alive whether in 1914 or 1985.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Louise

    This is an amazing story of not only a famous artist but also of a survivor. His achievement in art and his survivorship are feats for the time and place of his life. This author shows how the survivorship helped create the art. Born on the wrong side of the tracks in the wrong side of the wrong country, Chagall was fortunate to attend school. One would have expected more family pressure on him to pursue a more practical career. He went to St. Petersburg to further his artistic studies, but as a This is an amazing story of not only a famous artist but also of a survivor. His achievement in art and his survivorship are feats for the time and place of his life. This author shows how the survivorship helped create the art. Born on the wrong side of the tracks in the wrong side of the wrong country, Chagall was fortunate to attend school. One would have expected more family pressure on him to pursue a more practical career. He went to St. Petersburg to further his artistic studies, but as a Jew it was not a friendly city. Without residence papers he spent time in jail. He moved to Paris without money, back to Vitebsk to marry Bella at the dawn of the Revolution, then to Moscow after her parents' house was taken by the mobs. In Moscow friends and critics died by starvation, purge or suicidal depression. Chagall, Bella and daughter Ida moved to Germany then to France and then to the US. Each move was fraught with danger and peril. The author shows Chagall as a product of his time, a Jew from the Pale who fled the revolution, a man of traditional ways. With elegantly written historical background, the book is like a course in art appreciation. There are references to many known and some obscure painters and styles. Jackie Wullschlager describes the many color plates and black and whites as well as many paintings and drawings not included in the volume. She gives the background on the art and the conditions under which it was created in a way the reader can understand. She gives a view of Chagall's feelings, values and interior life. The photos of the young Chagall and Bella have the look of modernity, a look not often seen in vintage photos. Wullschlager describes expressions, for instance, Bella shows weariness, and you look at the photo and while it might not be immediately apparent, upon inspection, you agree. I expect the Meyer biography of the 1960's and Bella's writings provide the intimate perspective needed a book like this. These source materials go only so far, up to when Vava began keeping a rein on the family's public face. This may be the reason that the last 40 or so years of Chagall's life are compressed into 100 pages. This book is highly recommended for those with an interest in 20th century art.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Geffen

    I wanted a good dive into the life of this artist. My wish came true. I appreciate how the author placed Chagall in the context of his family, shtetl, beloved, passion for art, and the history through which his life intersected. Wullschlager's research truly was exhaustive and she did an excellent job of selecting what to include and exclude. We meet so many people whose lives overlapped, from teachers and students to financial supporters and friends, other artists who became famous or didn't (b I wanted a good dive into the life of this artist. My wish came true. I appreciate how the author placed Chagall in the context of his family, shtetl, beloved, passion for art, and the history through which his life intersected. Wullschlager's research truly was exhaustive and she did an excellent job of selecting what to include and exclude. We meet so many people whose lives overlapped, from teachers and students to financial supporters and friends, other artists who became famous or didn't (but Chagall doesn't know who will and who won't when he makes acquaintances of many). The influence of Hassidic Judaism and Russia on him as a person and an artist was deep and life-long. He never felt truly accepted in Russian society, nor in France (his desired home) until he was an old man. America didn't appeal to him and other places in the world he visited turned out to be wrong turns - certainly Germany became a nightmare and Israel seemed desolate and devoid of artistic appreciation. His personal life was both secondary and essential to his art, yet he used people and didn't realize it. The author explores his weaknesses as well as his strengths. She understands her subject. Because she captures him so well, we do, too. I wish there were more examples of the art she describes, even if in black and white. I found their absence disconcerting. The color plates are wonderful, and I know it would have been prohibiitely expensive to include more. Still... The index is inadequate, which bothered me. For example, to find pages where his son is discussed, one must look for him by the last name of his mother's first husband (McNeil), even when he is at times identified as David Chagall. These gripes are minor. The book is an excellent compilation of Chagall's life and art, as well as his relationship to other artists, and the times in which he lived. I wholeheartedly recommend it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mikey

    As a child, Chagall fainted to avoid confrontation, blushed his lips with makeup made from pass-over wine, flour and rose petals, and feared his kindly father. He was his mother's favorite child; she paid his way (but not his 9 siblings) out of the Shtetl and into school despite his total social and scholastic ineptitude (again, not true of his siblings). Chagall was a "COLLOSAL momma's boy." To an unheard of degree. I loved this about him. I could read about him fainting all day. But, in the se As a child, Chagall fainted to avoid confrontation, blushed his lips with makeup made from pass-over wine, flour and rose petals, and feared his kindly father. He was his mother's favorite child; she paid his way (but not his 9 siblings) out of the Shtetl and into school despite his total social and scholastic ineptitude (again, not true of his siblings). Chagall was a "COLLOSAL momma's boy." To an unheard of degree. I loved this about him. I could read about him fainting all day. But, in the second half of the book, this logically developed into the ultimate sad boy--a shy, social climbing, narcissist with a soft self-obsessed heart. I liked this less. But what can you say, he was talented, persecuted, misunderstood, and insanely needy. He couldn't paint without being read to. He could't choose his own shirts. When travelling away from his wife, he'd get too lonely to work. He'd forget to eat. He might need an affair. Chagall thought himself Christ on the cross and lived accordingly. His work embodied his life: for better and for worse, a momma's boy.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Olga Vannucci

    Sixty years an exile, He maintained his style And his recollected vision, Full of love and religion.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin H

    When i was in 6th grade at my magnet middle school for art, my art teacher gave us a "tribute chair" assignment. We had to construct a chair out of cardboard, stiff paper, tape, & glue, & dedicate it to either Vincent van Gogh or Marc Chagall. The chair had to look like the style of our chosen artist overall. We built our chairs, then covered them in paper-mache, painted them in a base coat, then ultimately painted on them scenes such as our artist might have painted, in as close to their style When i was in 6th grade at my magnet middle school for art, my art teacher gave us a "tribute chair" assignment. We had to construct a chair out of cardboard, stiff paper, tape, & glue, & dedicate it to either Vincent van Gogh or Marc Chagall. The chair had to look like the style of our chosen artist overall. We built our chairs, then covered them in paper-mache, painted them in a base coat, then ultimately painted on them scenes such as our artist might have painted, in as close to their style as we could come. I chose Chagall, partly because i thought van Gogh's mark would be too hard to replicate, & partly because i was taken by the element of fantasy in Chagall's work. Being 6th graders, we weren't given extensive biographies of our artists. For years, the most i would have been able to tell anyone of Chagall was that he was Jewish (hence the cow and rooster wearing yarmulkes that i painted on my chair), even though i was able to use some of his best known themes in the assignment. So when i saw Jackie Wullschlager's huge biography in the library, i grabbed it. Chagall had always been an anomaly for me, familiar yet unknown, based solely off of that 6th grade assignment. And in learning about Chagall's life, his art, & what was going on around him on a larger scale during his life, Wullschlager definitely delivers. Where once i hadn't even remembered Chagall's homeland, i now know the name of his hometown, what its community was like, & all the other cities Chagall would live in throughout his life-- as well as the pull he felt both towards the memory of his hometown & the desire to assimilate into the new cultures in which he found himself. Of course, as always, when learning about figures whom one may have some sort of attachment to, one always has to be ready to learn the less flattering facts of the lives of those figures. Which is a long way of saying that Wullschlager doesn't flinch at showing that Chagall also had his less wonderful side. She doesn't smooth over the fact that he could be controlling & needy & given to outbursts. His dependency on his mother ultimately transferred onto the other women in his life, especially his first wife Bella. He also had no qualms about playing to certain audiences in an attempt to get them to like him more. For example, when writing about his life, he would give the retelling a certain tilt that would make it more palatable to the USSR, as at the time, he was trying to get himself allowed to visit Moscow to see old works of his. Wullschlager is admirable in the way she handles these & other aspects of Chagall's life. She doesn't judge, she merely tells the reader what occurred, & oftentimes sets it in historical context, which allows you to see the bigger picture. In the context of mid 20th century Europe, therefore, at least some of Chagall's actions become much more clear. Ultimately, it is a reminder that no one is perfect, that we can't put anyone up on a pedestal & expect them to live up to our expectations. I can feel dismay at how Chagall acted at points in his life, & irritation at his more childish moments & tendencies, but he was only human. And on the whole, it all fed into his famous art, as in turns it was fueled by memories of his hometown, Vitebsk, his love & dependence on Bella, his desire to become a French artist, the impending wars, his exile from Russia, his other romantic relationships, & all the rocky bits in between. Wullschlager sets out to create as truthful a self-portrait of Chagall as she can, unhindered by opinion or judgment, & she succeeds. Technically, there were some bits that were a little irritating. Wullschlager seems prone to writing in very long run-on sentences, oftentimes using several semicolons (if not other punctuation marks) to break them up. Many of these breaks could have easily been new sentences on their own, which would have been much easier to read. The run-on sentences feel breathless, like someone talking too fast & letting their words all run together. Wullschlager also tends to list things without using the word "and" before the final article. Instead, she simply separates them all with commas, & then ends the sentence. It reads very abruptly, & while it may work well in some prose, in this biography it felt very awkward. That, however, may be a more specific personal critique on my part, as opposed to a technical one. On the whole, Jackie Wullschlager's biography of Chagall is full of information &, with the exception of the above technical points, written in a very clear manner. Though it's a very thick book, the reading doesn't feel like drudgery, & i would have read it even more quickly than i did if i hadn't had other obligations. For anyone who has an interest in art history & learning about the life of Marc Chagall, this is basically the book to read. You will come away with a better understanding of not only Chagall himself, but his artwork as well. For myself, i can no longer view Chagall as some nostalgic, sanitized, always-happy-fanciful artist of my memory. And of course, what artist ever is easy, simple, & uncomplicated in their life? However, it would seem that i somewhat underestimated my younger self. Taking a closer look at my tribute chair just after i'd finished the book, i was surprised to see just how much of Chagall's iconography, motifs, & colors i was able to echo. There is a floating horse, there are angels, there is a half-moon-half-clock, & there's even a violin standing upright next to its bow under a blue sky.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rose

    A quite thorough and probably objective biography since not all of it was complementary. It gives a good understanding of his motivations and different period. I learned a great deal. The pictures of the artist's works could have been organized much better and the coloring was poorly done.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Moira Downey

    It is a measure of how unfamiliar I am with Chagall's general oeuvre that I was surprised to find the great extent to which both his Jewishness and his Russian-ness infuse and inform his work. To that point, Wullschlager spends a good portion of the book focused on describing life in the pre-revolutionary Pale of Settlement, and the ways in which existence there shaped Chagall the man. I was most interested to read about the ways in which Chagall interacted with revolution and its impact on his w It is a measure of how unfamiliar I am with Chagall's general oeuvre that I was surprised to find the great extent to which both his Jewishness and his Russian-ness infuse and inform his work. To that point, Wullschlager spends a good portion of the book focused on describing life in the pre-revolutionary Pale of Settlement, and the ways in which existence there shaped Chagall the man. I was most interested to read about the ways in which Chagall interacted with revolution and its impact on his work (blunted, perhaps, by a stint in Paris during most of the initial revolutionary activity). There is a remarkable passage just before Chagall's permanent emigration from Russia that vividly illustrates the myriad ways in which the Russian revolution ate its own: Very few people from Chagall’s Jewish Theatre period survived the Stalin years. Vakhtangov died months after the triumph of The Dybbuk in May 1922, and Popova died of scarlet fever in 1924. Exter emigrated to Paris in 1924. Lunacharsky fell somewhat from favour and was appointed Soviet ambassador to Spain but died in Menton on the way there in 1933. Sergei Esenin, Chagall’s favorite poet, committed suicide in 1925, and Mayakovsky shot himself in 1930. Granovsky and Mikhoels were both awarded the title People’s Artist of the USSR in 1927, after which the Jewish Theatre was at last allowed to tour abroad, to Berlin and Paris, in 1928. Granovsky did not return with it but faded away in exile, dying in 1937. Meyerhold was arrested in 1939 and shot in prison in 1940. Tairov was labelled bourgeois by Stalin, and as a punishment, in 1936, his Chamber Theatre was merged with the Realistic Theatre and sent on a tour of Siberia; it was removed from his control in the 1940s. Tairov died of brain cancer in Solovievskaya Psychiatric Hospital in 1950. Among Chagall’s Malakhovka colleagues, Der Nister was sent to the Soviet gulag in 1949 and died there in 1950; David Hofstein and Itzik Feffer were executed in 1952. Mikhoels’s fate was unique. He was savagely murdered on Stalin’s personal orders in 1948; under the organisation of L.M. Tsanava and S. Ogoltsov, he was lured to Minsk, where he was assassinated by Stalin’s henchmen Lebedev, Kruglov, and Shubnikov. His death was masked as a car crash, and he was given a state funeral. Thoroughly researched and written in an engaging, approachable fashion, I nonetheless came away with the deflated, slightly disappointed reaction that generally keeps me away from biographies of artists (especially men) whose work I admire. It's difficult to escape the conclusion that Chagall, despite a rather avuncular facade, was in fact an exceedingly difficult man--neurotic and capricious, with more than a slight touch of narcissism--whose worst traits were enabled by those closest to him in the name of Art. It is particularly painful to read about the thwarted ambitions of his talented wife, Bella, who spent her life feeling compelled to sacrifice her own artistic career to play muse, manager and social intermediary for the Great Artist. An excerpt from a letter written by Chagall's daughter Ida to an uncle of hers after Bella's death plays up both Bella's importance to Chagall and Chagall's own apparent dearth of empathy. In reporting to her uncle news of his own sister's passing, Ida apologizes that nearly six months have gone by, but explains that "We have remained alone, without our guardian angel, without Bella, without Mama. It is over...Papa cannot write. He isn’t strong enough to write. You understand. He has suffered so much that I would like to spare him the torture of telling you." It seems to important to note that Chagall's daughter is writing this letter from the safety of the United States, where Chagall's family had managed to find refuge from the horrors of the second World War, to a man who, it had only recently been revealed to the Chagalls, "had survived the war, hiding in a cellar in Paris." Certainly the loss of Bella was terrible, but the tone-deaf nature of such a missive, in combination with a similar inability on the part of Chagall to face the deaths of either of his parents (he attended neither funeral) speaks volumes.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

    Whew! 522 pages, most of then valuable insights into understanding Chagall's paintings, stained glass, murals, set designs, ceramics, lithographs, ceilings, drawings, and,, of course, the man behind them. I now realize that I never really understood the Chagall works when I've see them, although I loved them. Amazingly, he kept creating new, even massive works, until he was over 90! So much for the notion that old people can't be productive. Beware, however, at the barrage of names thrown at you, Whew! 522 pages, most of then valuable insights into understanding Chagall's paintings, stained glass, murals, set designs, ceramics, lithographs, ceilings, drawings, and,, of course, the man behind them. I now realize that I never really understood the Chagall works when I've see them, although I loved them. Amazingly, he kept creating new, even massive works, until he was over 90! So much for the notion that old people can't be productive. Beware, however, at the barrage of names thrown at you, especially during his younger years as he moved from Vitebsk to St. Petersburg, to Paris, back to Vitebsk, to Moscow, to Germany, and back to Paris and the Cote D'Azure. He also lived out the WWII years in New York. I downgraded this one star because this confusing welter of often unpronounceable, much less memorable, names are not listed separately in a list of characters' section. They should have been, with a brief description of their relationship to Chagall and what city or country they are from. Otherwise, you have to keep a notepad by your side and make your own list (forget that!) or keep looking up each name in the index and going to the first page he or she is mentioned. Finally, as I finally did, you can just let our eyes slip over the names and read about Chagall's friends, enemies, dealers, inspirations, etc. You won't remember all those names anyhow. You only need to know who Bella, Ida, Virginia, Vava, and David are. You've already heard of Matisse and Picasso and other famous artists of his time whom he knew, and some names, like dealers or publishers, will stay with you. Certainly, you should know about Varian Fry's heroic work rescuing Jewish artists from the Nazis.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Shelly Dennison

    Excellent thorough biography of Chagall. As ever more colour plates would have helped but reproducing every image mentioned would obviously be far too expensive and make a thick book evn heavier. Lots of detail about every phase of his life and some (although more would sometimes have been welcome) context of the times and places. The focus was on how is art changed (or didn't) during different periods and wives. Very readable.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Hancock

    Very good biography. I have no art education but still I bristle when an author explains how certain artistic elements are to be interpreted. I encountered the word MILIEU more times in this book than I have encountered the word in all of the proceeding years of my life. Nonetheless this book has increased my appreciation of Chagall's work.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Derek Jacobi reads from Jackie Wullschlager's biography and tells of the artist's childhood in Vitebsk. Broadcast on: BBC Radio 7, 3:45pm Monday 16th August 2010 Duration: 15 minutes Available until: 4:02pm Monday 23rd August 2010 Categories: Factual, Arts, Culture & the Media, Life Stories Derek Jacobi reads from Jackie Wullschlager's biography and tells of the artist's childhood in Vitebsk. Broadcast on: BBC Radio 7, 3:45pm Monday 16th August 2010 Duration: 15 minutes Available until: 4:02pm Monday 23rd August 2010 Categories: Factual, Arts, Culture & the Media, Life Stories

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jesse

    Totally solid biography of Chagall. Nothing fancy. No post-modern who-dads or speculations or poetry or anything, just 500+ pages of well-researched bio. I knew next to nothing about Chagall when I started, and it kept me engaged, often simply because of where Chagall found himself in history (as a Russian Jew in constant exile). Flawless book, really.

  17. 5 out of 5

    W.J. Gunning

    An informative read but just didn't get me. For the art student wanting clarification of the background and derivation of Chagall's images I would recommend this book. But for the general reader it is somewhat of a tedious read which fails to fully honor the passion of the artist's images.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Keith McGowan

    Hopefully, there is a more interesting biography of this painter. I really struggled to get through the book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    Another in my artists series...fascinating.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Jackie Wullschlager's biography of the Russian-born artist Marc Chagall. Read by Derek Jacobi.

  21. 5 out of 5

    F.J. Commelin

    Wonderful well written biography

  22. 5 out of 5

    R. Patrick

    I thought it a thorough and honest treatment of Chagall's life. I couldn't put it down.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Art-historically and historically robust, incisive and illuminating. Loved it.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ania

    Very good book. Give you a good visual perspective about the arist, his times, his surrandings. I really enjoyed it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Barbra Quade

    I was fascinated by Chagall's life. His fatalism floats through his works. This was a well-researched account of his life.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Janart09

    I will go back again and again to this book for reference. Heavy and wordy but certainly worth it all.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lorea

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jonnathan Clark

  30. 5 out of 5

    Janet

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