'When Matisse dies, Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what color really is'. Picasso said this in the 1950s, when he and Chagall were eminent neighbors living in splendor on the Cote d'Azur. But behind Chagall's role as a pioneer of modern art lay struggle, heartbreak, bitterness, lost love, exile, and the miracle of survival. Born the son of a Russian Jewish herring merchant, Chagall fled the repressive 'potato-colored' czarist empire in 1911 to develop his genius in Paris, living alongside Modigliani and Leger in La Ruche, the artist's colony where 'you either died or came out famous'. Through war and revolution in Bolshevik Russia, Weimar Berlin, occupied France and 1940s New York, he gave form to his dreams, longings and memories in paintings which are among the most humane and joyful of the 20th century. Drawing on numerous interviews with the artist's family, friends, dealers, collectors, and illustrated with two hundred paintings, drawings and photographs, many previously unseen, this elegantly written biography gives for the first time a full and true account of Chagall the man and the artist - and of a life as intense, theatrical and haunting as his paintings.
Winner of Spear's Book Awards: Biography of the Year 2009.
Shortlisted for Costa Biography Award 2008.
Jackie Wullschlager is Chief Art Critic of the Financial Times, where she has worked since 1986. Her books include the prize-winning Hans Christian Andersen: The Life of a Storyteller, and an acclaimed group biography of Victorian children's writers, Inventing Wonderland. She lives in London with her husband and three children.