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Chagall painted in a unique style that captivated generations of art lovers and both fascinated and infuriated his critics. This program explores his life and work, documenting the history of the influential artist who began life as a poor Russian Jew, yet before his death became the grand old man of French art.
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Chagall is a portrait of portraits, for it studies the art as much as the artist while it explains how Marc Chagall came to create joyous and fantastical paintings, a rarity in the early 1900s. The production's conceit is in following the journey of a young artist who sets out to find out why "the grand old man of French painting" came to paint the way he did. The camera follows him as he visits places Chagall lived and worked, views exhibits, and seemingly ponders installations of astonishing art, including a ceiling painting for the Paris Opera and stained-glass windows that appear painted with light. Stock footage of historical events is interwoven with stills and film showing Chagall at work. The pace, which can seem slow at times, is an asset, for it lingers on his paintings, allowing you to study them. In the end, the conceit works, and "the man of masks" is, at least, partly revealed. --Valerie J. Nelson
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