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Marc Chagall--one of the greatest of all twentieth-century painters--died in 1985, during a major exhibition of his work, mounted jointly by the Royal Academy of Arts in London and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This exhibition had as one of its main features quotations taken from Chagall's autobiography, My Life.
Originally published in English in 1965, Chagall's My Life offers a lyrical and evocative account of the author's early life and tremendous insight into the shaping of his creative genius. His literary style--playful and witty arabesques of fantasy that remind us of his visual imagery--accentuates his descriptions of his childhood spent in the provincial Russian town of Witebsk, his early adventures, and his first meeting with Bella, the woman who later became his wife. He depicts his struggle as an artist in the face of poverty and opposition, followed by the fruitful years in Paris where he found fulfillment and recognition. Chagall ends his account by describing his return to Russia at the outbreak of World War I and the despair that finally induced him to return to France with Bella and their young daughter in 1922.