Although born and raised in the Russian village of Vitebsk (now part of Belarus), Chagall spent much of his life in Paris. He is recognized as a major figure of the École de Paris and was associated with the Parisian avant-garde circle of artists of the time that included Guillaume Apollinaire, Robert Delaunay, and Fernand Léger.
Over the course of his career, Chagall developed a whimsical and lyrical style characterised by symbolic imagery inspired by his Jewish faith, Belarussian heritage and lived experience in Paris. Chagall imparted symbolic value into many of the various elements of his compositions. Consequently, there are numerous recurring themes and motifs in his work, from biblical scenes and Parisian icons such as the Eiffel Tower, to floating figures and animals playing folk-instruments. Chagall’s whimsical imagery inspired the Surrealists, yet it is his considered use of colour, which has an almost luminescent quality in his finest works, for which he is best remembered. Picasso remarked in the 1950s that, “When Matisse dies… Chagall will be the only painter left who really understands what colour is.”
Along with Picasso, Chagall was the only painter to have an exhibition at the Louvre during his lifetime. Today his artworks can be found in many important museum collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, Tate Modern and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.