Marc Chagall (1887–1985) was one of the great figurative painters of the twentieth century and since the 1960s the Kunsthaus Zürich has staged numerous exhibitions devoted to his art. In addition, the museum houses a dozen or so of Chagall's important paintings, donated by the artist's family and other generous patrons, which represent various phases of his artistic career. Between February and May 2013 the Kunsthaus Zürich will once again celebrate the art of this much-loved artist with the landmark exhibition, Chagall: Modern Master.

Unlike previous Chagall exhibitions held here, Chagall: Modern Master will focus primarily on the three years the artist spent in Paris (1911–1914), and the subsequent period passed in his native Russia (1914–1922). During these crucial years Chagall established himself as a pioneer of modern art, and consolidated his unique visual language to create pictures that were to form the core of his art for the remainder of his life. Suffused with imagery drawn from Jewish ritual and folklore, Chagall's paintings of these years responded to the stimuli of the emerging avant-garde styles as well as to the art of the past. Chagall experienced modernism's 'golden age' in Paris before the First World War, and combined elements of Fauvism, Cubism and Orphism to produce his dreamlike visions that were in turn to influence Expressionist and Surrealist art. During his sojourn in Russia between 1914 and 1922, Chagall encountered the prevailing artistic trends of Suprematism and Constructivism. Throughout these artistic phases Chagall retained his identity as a Jewish artist. His roots in an impoverished Jewish shtetl would remain significant for his worldview and his nostalgia for his Hasidic upbringing would remain a dominant presence in his art.

The exhibition is organized by the Kunsthaus Zürich together with Tate Liverpool. The curators Simonetta Fraquelli and Tobia Bezzola have secured the loan of numerous works from major European and American collections, including the Centre Pompidou – MNAM (Paris), the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and MOMA (New York), the State Tretyakov Gallery (Moscow), the State Russian Museum (St Petersburg) and Tate (London).

The Cattle Dealer
Marc Chagall, The Cattle Dealer, 1912
Oil on canvas, 97.1 x 202.5 cm
Kunstmuseum Basel, acquired with a contribution from Dr. h.c. Richard Doetsch-Benziger, 1948