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Painters, Politicians, Poets Attend Rites : Chagall Buried in French Country Town

April 01, 1985|Associated Press

ST. PAUL DE VENCE, France — Politicians, poets and painters paid homage today as Marc Chagall, a giant of 20th-Century art, was buried in St. Paul de Vence, the tiny Provencal town where he lived and worked for the last 20 years of his life.

Hundreds of mourners and friends of the artist crowded into the tiny cemetery at the edge of the walled town, once a medieval fortress overlooking a valley.

French Culture Minister Jack Lang told the mourners, "As long as the sun continues to shine, the light of Marc Chagall will never go out."

Chagall, 97, died Thursday.

"We have lost a giant," said Israel's ambassador to France, Ovadia Soffer. "Chagall means a lot to the state of Israel, for his work was infused with Judaism, humanity and the statehood of Israel."

At the request of the artist's widow, Valentine, there was no religious ceremony, but a family friend, Leon Leneman, said the Kadesh, the Jewish prayer for the dead.

"Somebody had to do it," said Leneman. "Chagall did not like rabbis, but I felt he would have wanted to have Kadesh said."

Valentine Chagall was embraced by Jacqueline Picasso, widow of the artist Pablo Picasso, as she stood with Chagall's grandchildren from his first marriage, Maret and Piet. She was composed, but the grandchildren were weeping.

Others at the funeral were Pierre Matisse, son of the late artist Henri Matisse; Pierre Prevert, brother of French poet Jacques Prevert; French sculptor Cesar, and art critic Andre Verde.

Lang said an evening at the Paris Opera, with conductor Mstislav Rostropovich and other friends, is being planned as a tribute to Chagall.

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