Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests








Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Marc Chagall by Jonathan Wilson - 2007



Marc Chagall by Jonathan Wilson - 2007



Today is the 133rd birth anniversary of one of the greatest artists of the 20th Century,Marc Chagall.  He lived 55 of his 97 years in France, almost always in or close to Paris. Much of his art was inspired by Paris.

Website of Paris in July 2020 - Thyme for Tea




My Posts for Paris in July 2020

1. “Forain” - a set in Paris Short Story by Mavis Gallant
2. “Winter Rain” - a Short story by Alice Adams about an American woman living in Paris after World War Two
3. Marc Chagall by Jonathan Wilson

Marc Chagall,



July 6, 1887 born Vitebsk, now in Belarus, then part of the Russian Empire.

1910 to 1914 - resides in Paris

1915 - he Marries Bella Rosenfeld - The marriages endures until her passing in 1944.  They had a very deep relationship.  Wilson goes into detail on their Life together in Belarus, Paris and New York City.



1914 to 1922 resides in Russian Belarus.  He intended to only stay long enough to marry his childhood sweetheart but was trapped there by World War One and the consequences of the Russian Revolution.  Wilson goes into lots of details about Chagall involvements in developing matters in Soviet Belarus



1923 to 1941.  He and his wife Bella reside in Paris, they escape to New York City in 1941 to avoid the Nazis round up of non-French Jews going starting in Paris.

1941 to 1948.  New York City.  He has celebrity status as an artist accompanied by great financial success as detailed by Wilson.

1948 to 1985 . He lives in Paris

From 1952 to 1985 he was married to Valentine Brodsky
March 28, 1985 - he dies in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France. His wife died there in 1993.  Wilson spends a lot of time on Chagall’s relationships with his wives.

Jonathan Wilson has given us a very comprehensive biography of Marc Chagall, often regarded as greatest Jewish artist of the 20th century.  He gave me an understanding of how Chagall recreated
Paris as a huge shtetl, using animals and persons those familiar with Fiddler on The Roof will recognize easily.  He also uses the figure of Jesus on the Cross.  Wilson elegantly explains  the artistic  Development of Chagall from his early schooling in Belarus to the profound influence Paris had on his work.  Chagall met and became friends with now famous artists and developed valuable business contacts in Paris.


In 1941, Vishy authorities were starting to turn over foreign born Jews like Chagall and his wife to the Nazis.  They moved to New York City in 1941.  Wilson shows us How Chagall adjusted to his celebrity artist status. They returned to Paris in 1948.  By now Chagall had obtained significant commercial success.

Chagall spoke Russian, French and some English but Yiddish was his real language.  We can assume he and Bella spoke in Yiddish.

Anyone into modern art, Yiddish culture, French artistic developments in the 20th century will enjoy this wonderful biography.

Paris was very important as a place of refuge for Eastern European Jews.  Most were at least tri-lingual, some escaped in time, some did not.

Jonathan Wilson's work has appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, The New York Times Magazine and Best American Short Stories, among other publications. In 1994 he received a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. His fiction has been translated into many languages including Dutch, Hebrew, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese and Uyghur.
Wilson is the author of seven previous books: the novels The Hiding Room (Viking 1994), runner up for the JQ Wingate Prize, and A Palestine Affair (Pantheon 2003), a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, Barnes and Noble Discovery finalist and runner up for the 2004 National Jewish Book Award; two collections of short stories, Schoom (Penguin 1993) and An Ambulance is on the Way: Stories of Men in Trouble (Pantheon 2004); two critical works on the fiction of Saul Bellow; and a biography, Marc Chagall (Nextbook/Schocken 2007), runner-up for the 2007 National Jewish Book Award. Kick and Run is his eighth book and his first work of memoir.
Wilson lives in Newton, Massachusetts. He is Fletcher Professor of Rhetoric and Debate, Professor of English and Director of the Center for the Humanities at Tufts University. .from jonathanwilson.com







2 comments:

Suko said...

I love Chagall's art, but knew little about his life. This biography sounds fascinating.

Mel u said...

I learned a lot from this book.