Marc Chagall (7 July 1887, Vitebsk - 28 March 1985, Saint-Paul-de-Vence) is one of the greatest visual artists of the twentieth century. He himself had no difficulty in joining the greatest Western artists of all time. His use of color is fabulous and closely related to the meaning that we - often unknowingly - assign to the many colors and color combinations. He also tries to extract his visual language from the common, deeper layers of associations in Western people. That is why these images and colors appeal to a wide audience and are not reserved for a select group of art lovers and connoisseurs.
Only too aware of his stature, Chagall worked systematically from 1914 on, when he returned from Paris to his native Belarus, to enhance the myths surrounding his person. He rewrote his youth and led a colorful, nomadic lifestyle -certainly in the first two phases of his life, up to age 65- which facilitated the myth-forming. This was all the more possible because many of those in his circle helped perpetuate the myths.
Chagall preferred seeing himself as a self-taught artist who only esteemed a handful of artists beside his great example Rembrandt. He downplayed the influence and things learned from the teachers of his youth. And it must be said that during his student years in Paris (1911-14) he continually started anew and from scratch. He was determined to invent the wheel himself, and not only in painting: later, he would also find his own way, largely unaided, in his graphic and glass art.
Chagall grew up in a pious Jewish Orthodox environment at the end of the nineteenth century, when the religious experience in Europe was receiving strong new impulses. Upon leaving the parental home, he discarded most of this as antiquated ballast. He did however feel a strong connection to the Jewish people all his life. It irked him when his art was classified as ‘Jewish-art’, even if much of his imagery has Judaeo-Christian connotations and about a third of his work has religious undertones. He himself traced his art’s religious character to the deeper, unconsciouly active layers in European culture.
The first (more than) thirty years it is the inquisitive idealist, who really sacrifices everything to become a visual artist and as an artist wanted to help the world to achieve the freedom of every individual and every nation. In that period he only makes unique items such as paintings, (pen) drawings and mixed techniques. Heavily disillusioned, he will very consciously close this first period of his life by leaving his home country in 1922 for good and reporting on this first period of his life in his novel "My Life".
In the second thirty years he first of all wanted to gain great fame as a "celebrated artist". He is addressed by everyone as "Maître" and ensures a financially carefree existence. He starts this period with making etchings and black / white lithographs. A wide audience can become part of his art through these graphic techniques. From his first etchings he reached unprecedented heights with this technique. It is the concerns of the Holocaust and his flight from the Nazis to America that make him realize that he must do something with his artistry to bring world peace a step closer.
During the last thirty years of his life, he will devote his artistry entirely to this. No longer as the driven young idealist, but as a seeker of that peace and as a bidder of support for initiatives of others who also want that peace. To bring his colors to a wide audience, he uses the pochoir, the collotype and other special printing techniques. At the age of 65 he learned the color litho technique, with which a waterfall of thousand works uninterruptedly penetrates into his last years of life. During this time he will also make a series of 24 color woodcuts for the publication of his poems. These woodcuts have not been matched to this day.
In six parts of the "Chagall Lithographs", all his lithographs are ordered by date. Starting from 1922/23 (with M.001) until March 1985 (with M.1073). It has committed itself to the more stricter standards of Chagall.
Kornfelds catalog of Chagalls first etchings, woodcuts and lino's appeared in 1970. It included all these works by Chagall (K.001 up to and including K.123) untill 1966, with the exception of the three etching series, which were manufactured by order of Ambroise Vollard.
Kornfelds plan to dedicate a separate edition to these works, got a different shape with the publication in 1970 of this etching series under the nrs. AV. 001 up to and including AV. 303.
Chagall entrusted Kornfeld with the publication of all his work that appeared after 1967. To date, this official catalog has not been published, which will enlarge the odds to bring counterfeits into circulation without hindrance. Our Chagall Research Center suspects that this missing link involves 229 etchings, woodcuts and linocuts, which we have subdivided, as good as possible, in sixteen categories on issue date.