Marc Chagall's 1914 oil on canvas, "Study for `Over Vitebsk.'"
Marc Chagall's 1914 oil on canvas, "Study for `Over Vitebsk.'" Photo by AP
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Reuters
A gallery assistant posing with Marc Chagall's "L'Arbre de Jesse," at Sotheby's in London. Photo by Reuters

An exhibit on artist Marc Chagall, whose works were once banned in the former Soviet Union, opened in Russia.

The Moscow exhibition looks at the Jewish and folk art influences on his art. Communist Russia saw his works as “bourgeois.”

“Visitors often ask why Chagall’s animals are blue, yellow or pink, why the bride is flying over the rooftops and the man has two faces,” said curator Ekaterina Selezneva, according to the French news agency AFP. They will now understand where Chagall drew [his images] from.”

Chagall was born Moishe Segal in 1887 to a poor Jewish family outside Vitebsk in modern Belarus, in the Jewish Pale of Settlement, and his paintings recall images of Vitebsk.

Selezneva said the exhibition “must help people to understand the mystery of Chagall,” who always looked to popular art in his search for a distinctive figurative language.

Chagall served for a short time as commissioner of art in his hometown, but following an argument with fellow painter Kazmir Malevich left for Paris.

The exhibit runs until Sept. 30.