Marc Chagall Essay - Critical Essays

Howard Greenfeld


In the preface, Greenfeld indicates that his book will answer several questions about Chagall as a person, his environment, and how he became a painter. At the same time, Greenfeld stresses that Chagall’s greatness lies in his art and that it is Greenfeld’s sincere hope that the readers of the book will go on to view and be affected by the actual works of Chagall. Therefore, this book is an attempt to introduce children to an important twentieth century artist.

In order to accomplish this goal, Greenfeld has stressed the personality of Chagall, especially as a child and a young man, and has kept the discussions of art, politics, religion, and all other aspects of Chagall’s life to a minimum. He has, in fact, fictionalized Chagall’s personality to enable him to stress a few important aspects of it: Chagall’s unique vision, his refusal to be drawn into any type of group (artistic or political), and his deep love for his wife. While this approach simplifies the man and his art, it is effective in providing a young audience with central themes to help them identify with and understand Chagall.

The earlier chapters of the biography, those dealing with Chagall’s youth, use fictionalized episodes to try to capture these few elements of Chagall’s personality. The later chapters, those dealing with Chagall’s adult life and artistic accomplishments, continually make references back to those qualities. For example, the author points out...

(The entire section is 550 words.)