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My Life

4.02  ·  Rating Details  ·  346 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
My Life was written in Moscow in 1921–1922, when Chagall was thirty-five years old. Although long out-of-print, it remains one of the most extraordinarily inventive and beautifully told of all autobiographies. The text is accompanied by twenty plates which Chagall prepared especially to illustrate his life story. Together, the words and pictures paint an incomparable portr ...more
Paperback, 172 pages
Published March 22nd 1994 by Da Capo Press (first published January 1st 1959)
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Jan 25, 2015 Io? rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art, memoir
"Sono passati tanti anni da quando è morta!
Dove sei ora, piccola madre? In cielo, sulla terra? Io sono qui, lontano. Sarei più sollevato se ti fossi rimasto più vicino; almeno avrei guardato la tua tomba, toccato la tua lapide.
Ah mamma. Non so più pregare e piango sempre più di rado.
Ma la mia anima pensa a te, a me, e il mio pensiero si consuma nel dispiacere.
Non ti chiedo di pregare per me. Tu lo sai quante pene ho. Dimmi piccola madre: nell'altro mondo, in paradiso, nelle nuvole, là dove sei,
Feb 27, 2016 Jale rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vincent Van Gogh, Abidin Dino, Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu gibi ressamların mektuplarını okuduktan sonra ressamların yazdıkları metinlerin de edebi açıdan iyi olması gerektiğine dair bir yargım var. Chagall'ın biyografisi ise edebi açıdan kötü, resimlerini daha iyi anlamak ve hayatına tanıklık yapmak açısından iyi.
Cherry Jeffs
Oct 30, 2013 Cherry Jeffs rated it it was amazing
My Life By Marc Chagall is an autobiography of the first part of the artist's life, written when Chagall was only 35 and illustrated with 50 sketches and prints also by the artist.

With the intimacy of a diary, Chagall reminisces about the period of his childhood in the Russian 'shtetl' of Vitebsk, his art studies in St Petersburg, his first contact with the art world in Paris ending with his return to Russia – including his period as Commissioner for the Arts in Vitebsk after the Bolshevik Revo
Jul 08, 2011 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading Chagall is like listening to a child telling a story. "I did this and I did this and I did this and he fell and he did this and she did this and they did this and we ate this and she laughed and the mountains were there and he died and I loved." All very short paragraphs, meandering paragraphs with no focused thought. But it was refreshing to read because it was honest, straight feeling thoughts like those from an enthused kid. A kid doesn't know what enthusiasm is. The kid just is. Ther ...more
Mar 13, 2013 Elaine rated it really liked it
This was written when Marc Chagall's life was not even half over, so if you are wanting to find out about his whole life -- especially his work in the international art world -- this will not satisfy. On the other hand, this is his own voice, with lots of stories about his childhood and youth in Vitebsk and discovery of Paris -- plus it is illustrated with his own pen-and-ink drawings. Worth a read, but not a thorough study. He kind of wanted to be a poet -- but his paintings are way better!
Oct 25, 2013 Jenny rated it it was amazing
A poetic autobiography unlike any I've read before. It's an interesting insight into Chagall as a person and artist (emphasis on the latter) but also - with so much time that has now elapsed - into the state of Russia/Soviet Union and Europe during the early part of his life.
He wrote this in 1922, when he still had another 60+ years to live and one wonders what a sequel would have looked like.
Wonderful, simple drawings by Chagall illustrate the book.
Molly Cecile
Dec 04, 2011 Molly Cecile rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art, favorites
This book was an incredibly fantastic surprise! I love the fact that I can read something about Marc Chagall's life from his own words and after I finished reading the book, I wanted more! Unfortunately, this book isn't as popular as it should be! I highly suggest reading it, especially if you're an artist. It's very inspiring.

Chagall grew up in a tiny Jewish town in Belorussia, or just what was Russia at that time. Although he wasn't rich and his parents were against him being an artist, Chaga
Aaron Benarroch
Well, it was one of those selfbiographies who disappoint you because you see that your myth is real, it's alive and it's... just a human as you, he suffers like you, he ages like you, he goes to the bathroom like you. It's interesting to see how one of your favourite artist became who he is, on the other side I have the feeling that beside incredibly gifted for painting, he was just like me and my neighbour. And I haven't yet decided if this should comfort of discomfort me.
Apr 19, 2014 Katya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Отличная книга, прочитав ее просто невозможно не влюбиться в картины Шагала. Как написал сам Шагал: "Писал эти страницы как краски по холсту. Если бы на моих картинах был кармашек, я бы положил их туда..." Эту книгу можно использовать как лекарство для души, она буквально пропитана любовью к родному городу, к близким людям, к жизни. А образы такие яркие и поэтичные, что не перестаешь удивляться как в простых явлениях жизни можно увидеть столько красоты.
Oct 29, 2014 Patrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this from the shop in the Marc Chagall museum in Nice and I paid 20 for it, which seems now like quite a lot of money for what is a short, small paperback, but whatever. I think perhaps I was just surprised to see a book in English by the man himself right there in the shop. But I don’t regret it. Looking back on it now, I can’t think of very many other modernist artists who have written significant personal biographies, let alone one which is so revealing about the source of much of hi ...more
Mar 30, 2008 happygolucky529 rated it it was amazing
Chagall's autobiography is almost as hallucinatory and psychedelic as his art work: vibrant, optimistic, and mystical. I loved reading this account of his life, from his childhood in a conservative Jewish family in Russia to his poor years in Paris to the loving relationship he maintained with his wife Bella.
Ana Sorce
Jan 30, 2014 Ana Sorce rated it really liked it
Для меня посещение выставки Шагала в Нью Йорке совпало с прочтением этой книги. Надо сказать, что на картины в этот раз я взглянула совсем другими глазами. Его разнообразный символизм стал гораздо понятнее. Книга, написанная неповторимым стилем, полна самобытности и мудрости.
Mar 22, 2016 Kathy rated it really liked it
How often do you find an autobiography written by an artist himself that comes complete with illustrations? I got fascinated by Chagall's works after seeing his piece on the ceiling of Opéra Garnier and liked them for their whimsicality. I enjoyed reading his words, it was nice to find that they evoke a similar vibe as his paintings even after going through a translation. Also given the nature of this book it was an interesting perspective from which one could get a better understanding the arti ...more
Jul 16, 2010 j. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
blog post when i was reading this book:
I write in the margins of his autobiography, "I LOVE THIS MAN!" I love his ambivalence towards his homeland:
"In Russia, I'm only he fifth wheel of the coach. And everything I do seems outlandish to them, and everything they do seems futile to me. I can say no more. I love Russia."
I love the struggle it was for him to be an artist as a poor Jewish man, who was restricted where he could live, where he could go... but knew he had to paint.
"will God or someone
Mar 15, 2015 Anita rated it liked it
I'd be lying if I said this was an easy book to get through but it was worth the effort. I didn't understand where he was coming from a fair bit of the time but then I am not a brilliant artist so that is probably why. I am so very interested in his life and this was another insight into the incredible mind of the younger Chagall from the horses mouth so to speak. It has spurred me to delve further and to read Bella's book and, if I can find it, the book written by his partner ( in between marri ...more
Alison Kudlowski
Feb 27, 2014 Alison Kudlowski rated it it was amazing
If you ever wondered where the idea for 'Fiddler on the roof' came from..look no further. Simply written..through the eyes seemingly of a child..poetic (perhaps he sought the written word in his painting...this autobiographical work is written as if he is dancing his way through life....he writes as he paints...magically.

Kathleen Dixon
Interesting to read an artist's autobiography. He paints well with words too, though I don't particularly like his art.
Oct 23, 2013 Mark rated it it was amazing
A wonderful read - all about Chagall's early life in Witebsk in the 1890's, through his art education in St. Petersburg, Moscow and Paris, to his return to Witebsk and his work in art and theater there after WWI and the Russian Revolution. Chagall writes the same way he paints. Emotions, Impressions, Exclamations!, Everyday Mysticism, Angles and Colors in Loaves of Bread and Bottles of Wine. On many occasions he introduces us through his prose to characters that inhabit his paintings, which I fo ...more
Roman Drits
Jan 31, 2016 Roman Drits rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
«И только там нет фальши, где душа сама, стихийно, достигает той ступени, которую принято называть литературой, иррациональностью.»
Cinzia Caselli
Aug 25, 2015 Cinzia Caselli rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
meraviglioso come un dipinto!
Nov 05, 2014 Diane rated it liked it
This book is written in such a rambling style that it reminds me of Chagall's paintings. Another reviewer says the style is like that of a child and I agree. No explanations, no topical connections between paragraphs or sections, just: this happened and this happened. It' certainly interesting to read about his life in his own words, but a bit hard to follow. Now I'd like to read a really good biography about him.
Jun 27, 2012 Olesya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
''Unatoč svim nedaćama ovoga svijeta u meni se očuuvao dio one produhovljene ljubavi u kojoj sam odgojen i vjera u čovjeka koji je spoznao ljubav. U našem životu, kao i na slikarevoj paleti, postoji samo jedna boja koja može dati smisao životu i umjetnosti. Boja Ljubavi.''

''Ja ne razumijem ljude, baš kao ni svoje vlastite slike.''
Davor K
At the beginning, when I started reading I thought that this book will be very tough to go through because of seemingly unconnected style and short passages which try to tell so many things.
The style reminds a bit of a child trying to say many things at the same time using simple words.
Maybe a bit like his paintings?
César Lasso
Oct 14, 2013 César Lasso rated it it was ok
I felt disappointed with this book by famous painter Marc Chagall. I had expected an autobiography, but the work was something more like a collection of loose notes about his feelings. Besides, the title is not very exact - Chagall died when he was 97 and this work was first published when the author was 35.
Mar 20, 2007 Chris rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Chagall fans.
It's not as good as his paintings. It captures a bit of his personality and his love for his home but not nearly as good as his painting's do. But hey, if he could write as good as he paints, this world would be an unjust place. There will never be a "Bo Knows" kinda campaign on this guy.
It's such a shame I needed, like, two months to finish this book, since it's not even really thick. But sometimes life interferes and also it is written in a really poetical style which seems a little too poetical for me. I still enjoyed most parts, though.
Aug 22, 2013 H.Friedmann added it
Shelves: memoir, art
I didn't rate this because I honestly don't know what I think. It's not like any other autobiography I have ever read. Positively dream-like and poetical, I immediately went to Wikipedia upon finishing it to get a more solid view on Chagall.
Jun 04, 2008 Amy rated it really liked it
It would be easy to call this book arrogant because he wrote it in his thirties, but I found it wise and fond and ultimately interesting.
Jan 10, 2008 Laural rated it really liked it
He inspires me - you can actually vividly see how he'd paint through his writing. Amazing!

I just wish there were more pictures :)
Oct 09, 2008 Katarina rated it really liked it
the beauty of man whose life is depicted by very close persons, angels, and creatures not seen by human eye
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“Her silence is mine.” 2 likes
“Vielleicht ist meine Kunst die Kunst eines Wahnsinnigen, ein funkelndes Quecksilber, eine blaue Seele, die über meine Bilder hereinbricht.” 2 likes
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