Marc Chagall, born on this day in 1887 and known as the ‘artist of love and dreams’, Chagall flirted with various artistic styles and experimented with painting, illustrations, prints, ceramics and tapestry. His highly personal style of modern art is instantly recognizable and inimitable, but the themes explored through his work, love, loss, joy, memory and family are universal.

He was known for being a preeminent Jewish artist and was widely respected by his peers for being one of the few artists who truly understood colour. Here are five more facts on Marc Chagall:

1. Chagall was a Figurative painter
Despite drawing influence from Cubism, Suprematism and Surrealism he ultimately rejected all these movements in favour of keeping his art focused on the human form – in fact he saw his work as being representative of all of humanity.

2. He has created work for the United Nations
Working in stained glass, Chagall produced windows for the UN in 1964, the window takes the form of a memorial and explores themes around love and peace.

3. He was famously elusive
Chagall guarded his private life and took great care to avoid the limelight. Sometimes when people approached to ask if he was that famous painter Marc Chagall, he would answer, “No,” or amusingly, “I don’t think so,” or point to someone else and say, “Maybe that’s him.”

4. He was smuggled out of France
Chagall was forced to flee his home in Paris for the United States during the Nazi occupation of France from 1940, and arrived in the USA in May 1941. Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse were also on the list of artists who should leave Nazi territory for their own safety, but they chose instead to stay.

5. He lived almost a century
Chagall was born in 1887 and died in 1985 at the ripe old age of 97. During his lifetime the Wright Brothers made their first flight in an airplane, the first man landed on the moon and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was released in cinemas. Throughout his 75 year painting career he produced almost 10,000 works!