cover image Chagall


Rizzoli, Aleksandr Kamensky. Rizzoli International Publications, $100 (376pp) ISBN 978-0-8478-1080-2

Marc Chagall was peculiarly Russian in his transformation of sordid reality into supreme beauty, his ``impassioned search for a new organization of the world,'' suggests Soviet art historian Kamensky. Although most Western critics maintain that Chagall became ``Chagall'' during his first stay in Paris (1910-1914), the author insists that the artist developed his symbolic vocabulary, his style fusing everyday and fantastic elements, in his native Russia and the newborn Soviet Union. We follow him through his childhood in the old town of Vitebsk, his formative years in Saint Petersburg (where he assimilated Russian symbolist and primitivist influences) and his return to his homeland amid the 1917 revolution, until his final departure in 1922. With its extraordinary wealth of first-rate reproductions of paintings and drawings, this volume is indispensable to understanding Chagall's development. (Dec.)