LACMA Sets the Stage for Chagall.
The work of early modernist Marc Chagall spans several decades. His singular dream-like paintings with their explosive color palates and distorted anatomical shapes defined an artistic style that exists somewhere between the intersection of Cubism, Fauvism, and Symbolism (Artsy). He was proficient in many artistic mediums including illustrating, sculpting, and staining glass. His stained glass work is famously featured in the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem and the United Nations in New York City. He produced work along side such friends and prolific contemporaries as Robert Delaunay and Fernand Léger—two giants of the Cubism movement.
For many years he was regarded as the greatest Jewish artist of the 20th century. The French-Russian artist made work that expressed his own personal experience as well as the folklore of Eastern Europe. Working at the height of Paris’s La Belle Époque or golden age, Chagall’s mystical creations are believed to have profoundly influenced the Surrealism movement (Artsy).
I couldn’t tell you how long I stood in front of Chagall’s Four Seasons mosaic mural in Chicago—mesmerized by every colorful tile or how long I sat in the pews of Notre-Dame marveling at the exquisite stain glass he created. Being a fan of his imaginatively vivid and mysterious paintings that always seem slightly off to me, I was thrilled when I heard LACMA was exhibiting his work. When I learned the exhibit was showcasing his costume and set design creations—a medium I never knew he worked in, the inner theater geek in me who also loves fashion got a little verklempt!
“Chagall: Fantasies for the Stage highlights the principal role that music and dance played in Chagall’s artistic practice. The performing arts were a significant source of inspiration for Chagall throughout his long career: he depicted musicians in many of his paintings, collaborated on set designs for the Ballet Russes in 1911, created murals and theatrical productions for the Moscow State Jewish Theater in the 1920s, and designed costumes and monumental sets for ballet and opera in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.” (LACMA).
“The exhibition concentrates on Chagall’s four productions for the stage—the ballets Aleko, set to music by Pyotr Tchaikovsky (1942), The Firebird by Igor Stravinsky (1945), Daphnis and Chloé by Maurice Ravel (1958), and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute (1967). The exhibition features the artist’s vibrant costumes and set designs—some of which have never been exhibited since they appeared on stage—and also presents a selection of iconic paintings depicting musicians and lyrical scenes, numerous works on paper, and documentary footage of original performances. In bringing these pieces together, Chagall: Fantasies for the Stage communicates the moving and celebratory power of music and art, and spotlights this important aspect of the artist’s career.” (LACMA)
Walking through the exhibit you are immediately transported into Chagall’s fantasy world where larger-than-life figures devoid of human or gender conformity come to life. Alongside some of his most famous paintings, there are sketches of his costume and set designs in watercolors and acrylics. These sketches are works of art in and of themselves. Photographs and newspaper clippings documenting the artist and his process are also on display while music from the four theatrical productions plays lightly in the background.
Although the costumes from all four theatrical productions are exceptional and a pleasure to examine up close, my favorite costume collections are from Aleko and The Magic Flute. In both productions the crafting of a surrealist utopian dream world where up can be down and down can be up, is depicted in every enchantingly detailed costume. Chagall’s approach to designing the Aleko costumes such as the “Gypsy with Playing Cards,” or “Fish,” is whimsically interpretive. Chagall used materials like cotton-knit, silk, wool, and nylon to construct the garments and everything was hand painted. The “Papagena” and “Papageno” costumes from The Magic Flute are extremely ornate and magnificent examples of Chagall’s genius.
The exhibit will be on view until Jan 7th, 2018. Go fall down into the rabbit hole of Chagall’s inventive mind and stand in awe of his unparalleled artistry.
Location: 5905 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles CA 90036
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday: 11 am–5 pm
Friday: 11 am–8 pm
Saturday, Sunday: 10 am–7 pm
Price of Admission for exhibit: $25