Form and Content
Marc Chagall by Andrew Kagan introduces Chagall as an individual who combined poetry with painting in order to interpret life. The author divides his biography into the seven periods of Chagall’s ninety-seven years. Kagan particularly emphasizes the diversity of the artist’s later years, when he worked in a variety of media, including sculpture, graphics, tapestry, and stained glass. He concludes the book with quotes from Chagall, notes on his technique, a chronology of his life and his exhibitions, and an alphabetical list of the public collections of Chagall’s work. Kagan also includes an extensive bibliography of interviews, major illustrated books, monographs, solo and group exhibition catalogs, periodicals, books, and films.
Kagan’s introduction provides an overview of Chagall’s life as an artist who shaped twentieth century art. Chagall’s philosophy of life was one filled with love and hope, and his art exudes energy, self-confidence, and resilience. He used various media for paintings of set designs for theater and ballet, murals and ceilings, and stained-glass windows. He also worked with ceramics, mosaics, and sculptures in bronze, stone, and marble.
Color and black-and-white photographs of Chagall’s art complement the narrative throughout the book. Kagan credits the many well-known artists who influenced Chagall and his art during his early years. Although influenced by the work of these master artists, Chagall began his career as an artist with a desire to express himself in a uniquely individual style, and he maintained that sense of individualism throughout his prolific career. The color photographs of Chagall’s work provide evidence of his development as a great master. Black-and-white photographs include pictures of the artist at work on location in Palestine, in his studio, and with members of his family. The author quotes Chagall’s autobiography, translated from Russian by his first wife as Ma vie (1931; My Life, 1965), and includes extensive references.