Author(s): Marc Chagall
Chagall was the son of a herring merchant, born in Witebsk in White Russia, opposite a laundress and a chimney sweep. After the Revolution, while waiting for emigration papers, he wrote his autobiography at the age of 34.
My Life reads like one of Chagall's paintings- emotional, fragmentary, humorous, colourful and dream-like, soaked in nostalgia for Jewish small-town society, familiar from 'The Fiddler on the Roof'. It combines a colourist's eye for detail, an artist's passion for life, a satirical sense of humour and a backdrop of Belle poque Paris and revolutionary Russia. The character sketches are magnificent.
Chagall produced 50 illustrations, which accompany the text. The first English translation of My Life was published in 1965 and it has been in print ever since.
Marc Chagall was born in White Russia and brought up in the Jewish community of Witebsk. He was a prolific artist, producing whimsical, dream-like paintings, stained glass windows, stage sets, ceramics and tapestries. He studied art in St Petersburg and he became Commissar of Arts in Witebsk after the Bolshevik Revolution. In 1923 he settled in Paris and, apart from evacuating to New York during the Second World War, he lived in France until his death in 1985. In the 1950s, Picasso predicted that 'Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what colour really is'.