Chagall's dream-based imagery was revered by contemporary Surrealists yet he refused to join the movement, preferring to pursue his individualistic path. Chagall maintained a consistent style throughout his long career. His frequently repeated subject matter was drawn from Jewish life and folklore; he was particularly fond of flower and animal symbols. The artist translated his imaginative folkloric imagery to stained glass and designed windows for cathedrals in Metz and Reims. Among his well-known works are I and the Village (1911; Mus. of Modern Art, New York City) and The Rabbi of Vitebsk (Art Inst., Chicago).
He designed the sets and costumes for Stravinsky's ballet Firebird (1945). Chagall's twelve stained-glass windows, symbolizing the tribes of Israel, were exhibited in Paris and New York City before being installed (1962) in the Hadassah-Hebrew Univ. Medical Center synagogue in Jerusalem. His two vast murals for New York's Metropolitan Opera House, treating symbolically the sources and the triumph of music, were installed in 1966. Much of Chagall's work is rendered with an extraordinary formal inventiveness and a deceptive fairy-tale naïveté. Chagall illustrated numerous books, including Gogol's Dead Souls, La Fontaine's Fables, and Illustrations for the Bible (1956). A prolific artist and dazzling colorist, Chagall's vast oeuvre of both religious and secular subjects has gained worldwide recognition. A museum of his work opened in Nice in 1973. His name is also spelled Shagall.