Jacques Chapiro was the son of a wood carver. He began his artistic education at the age of ten. He attended the School of Fine Arts in Kharkov in 1915 and then in Kiev in 1918. During the civil war, while he was continuing his studies, he designed revolutionary posters and carried out small jobs. In 1921, he studied at the Petrograd School of Fine Arts. During this time, he worked as a set designer assistant for Constructivist theater director Meyerhold. He later worked for directors Stanislavsky and Wachtangov.
In 1925, Chapiro left Russia for Paris and lived at La Ruche for the following five years. In 1939, he found refuge in Carpentras in Provence and Serres in the Hautes Alpes. After the war, he visited Italy before returning to Paris, where he wrote an anecdotal story on the daily life of the artists living at La Ruche. In 1967, he opposed the project to demolish La Ruche. Alongside Chagall and Raymond Cogniat, he set up a protection committee, which eventually won its campaign.
Capitale des arts, le Paris des années 1905-1939 attire les artistes du monde entier. De cette période de foisonnement, un terme est resté, celui d'Ecole de Paris, qui recouvre une grande diversité d'expression artistique. Dans ce brassage dont Montparnasse est le creuset, un groupe se distingue : celui des artistes juifs venus de Russie, de Pologne et d'Europe centrale. Si leurs styles sont variés, un destin commun les rassemble : ils fuient l'antisémitisme de leur pays d'origine. Certains ont connu la célébrité dès les années 1920, tels Soutine, Lipchitz ou Chagall. D'autres n'ont pas eu le temps ou la chance d'y accéder. Près de la moitié a péri dans les camps de concentration nazis.
From 1905 to 1939, Paris attracted artists from all over the globe as the capital of the art world. This period of artistic proliferation became known as the School of Paris, and includes a great diversity of artistic expression. Within the teeming art world centred on Montparnasse, one group set itself apart: Jewish artists from Russia, Poland, and Central Europe. Although their styles were diverse, they shared the common fate of fleeing anti-Semitic persecutions in their home countries. Some became famous in the 1920s, such as Soutine, Lipchitz, and Chagall, while others did not have the time or the luck to gain renown. Nearly half of these artists died in Nazi concentration camps.