Marc Chagall was a Russian-born painter and graphic designer whose distinctive use of color and form derived partly from Russian Expressionism with French Cubist influences. His vivid recollections of Russian Jewish village scenes and incidents in his private life were treated with a touch of humor and fantasy. Strong, bright colors portray the world with a dreamlike, non-realistic simplicity and surreal inventiveness. This fusion of fantasy, religion and nostalgia filled his work with a childlike, joyous quality.
Born in what is now Belarus, Chagall studied art in St. Petersburg. From 1910-14 he lived in Paris and absorbed the works of leading Cubist, Surrealist and Fauvist painters. From 1918-19 he was director of the Art Academy in Vitsyebsk and then became art director of the Moscow Jewish State Theater, where he painted several murals in the theater lobby and executed sets for several productions. In 1923, he moved permanently to France, except for a brief residence in the U.S. during World War II.
Chagall expanded to other forms of art including ceramics, mosaics and stained glass. Among his most famous building decorations are the ceiling of the Paris Opera House, two murals in the lobby of the Metropolitan Opera House, New York, a glass window at the United Nations in New York and decorations in the Vatican.