This past Tuesday, the artist Marc Chagall’s studio — a two-bedroom Catskills cabin — was listed for just $240,000. The Russian French modernist lived in High Falls from April 1946 to August 1948, and, according to Rik Rydant, a history buff who helped organize the 2011 exhibition “Chagall in High Falls” at Wired Gallery in High Falls, Chagall created over 90 pieces during his time in the house. That same show also included documents revealing details of his local life, including family photos taken by Belgian photographer Charles Leirens and an FBI file on the artist — he was closely surveilled due to his leftist politics.
The shingled gray house has two floors that total just 840 square feet and sits on half an acre of forested land directly next to the main home Chagall resided in upstate. After entering through a tiled mudroom, there is a combined living and dining room (the 70-year-old wood floors are intact, as is the foundation, which is made from Rosendale cement) and a small brick-walled kitchen that overlooks the backyard. The main bedroom, which sits under the gabled roof and has slanted ceilings, looks out onto a valley and is also brightened by a skylight.
According to a 1995 Hudson Valley magazine article, “Chagall’s Days in High Falls,” before moving there, the artist lived in Manhattan after fleeing Europe after the Nazi occupation of France. In his autobiography Ma Vie, he wrote that his wife, Bella, preferred the “culture” of Manhattan — “but I would be content to live in some quiet place, where I would do nothing but paint pictures that would astonish the world.” After losing his wife to an infection, he did just that, moving upstate two years later with his new partner Virginia Haggard McNeil, his former housekeeper, who was the daughter of a British diplomat. He was drawn to the Marbletown area specifically because of its high population of Russian Americans — he was able to speak mostly Yiddish there. The couple welcomed their son, David, while living in the Catskills, and lived intentionally reclusive lives as the child was born out of wedlock. The artist was denied a visa, partly due to his politics, and moved to France after staying only two years at the home.
The current owner, Larry Lynch, has had the home since 1970. He hasn’t opted to update the home at all, which is apparent in some of the shingling covering the living-room walls. Compass listing agent Elizabeth Perez is hopeful that “someone in the art world” will be a potential buyer. “If someone is able to preserve it, that would be wonderful,” she said.
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