If you’re searching for greater insight into the personal life and creative process of Marc Chagall, you may want to plan a trip to a small town in the Catskill Mountains. High Falls, New York has just under 300 households in its ranks but was home to the one of the art world’s most sought after painters, Marc Chagall.
A recent New York Times article, reports on the story of Marc Chagall life in High Falls. Chagall, a native of Belarus, arrived in the US in 1941 during the Holocaust and established his home in the rural town of High Falls from April 1946 to August of 1948. It was a productive time for the artist as he completed over 90 paintings during that two year period.
What’s even more impressive is that this new chapter into Chagall’s life was not unearthed by investigative art scholars but by two neighbors with a penchant for local history. Rik Rydant and Gary Ferdman took hold of the rumor of Chagall appearing in High Falls during the 1940s and pieced together the complete trajectory of his time in their town. They even discovered personal stories of Chagall riding into town on his bicycle trying to trade his paintings for local services. One resident is said to have turned down the modern art master instead opting for the cash value of $15.
Rydant and Ferdman enlisted the interest of a small group of other High Falls residents and created an exhibit entitled Chagall in High Falls. The exhibit which ran in the fall of 2011 included eight reproductions of paintings completed in High Falls and a collection of 40 photographs and documents including pages from the file kept on Chagall by the F.B.I.
Marc Chagall and his wife, Virginia Haggard, left High Falls for France in 1948 and never returned to the United States. Chagall died in France in 1985.