Chagall: Fantasies for the Stage at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
“I adore the theater and I am a painter. I think the two are made for a marriage of love.” Marc Chagall
Chagall’s works for theatrical productions are underexamined despite the importance that theater had in his works. The current special exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art focuses on four specific productions: the ballets Aleko, The Firebird, and Daphnis and Chloe; and the opera The Magic Flute. Collection pieces come from The Metropolitan Opera Archives, the Museum of Modern Art, Opéra national de Paris, New York City Ballet, and private collections, with archival film clips from the Jerome Robbins Dance Division at the New York Public Library.
Visitors can listen to video interviews with Chagall’s granddaughters, designer Albert Wolsky, costume historian Bobi Garland, visual artist Frances Stark, opera director and Chagall: Fantasies for the Stage exhibition designer Yuval Sharon, LACMA installation specialist Melinda Kerstein, and LACMA curators of Costume & Textiles Clarissa Esguerra and Kaye Spilker. Archival news articles and performance reviews can be read on iPads, and instructions are given for using the Chagall Snapchat filters, where one can take a selfie with a headdress on.
Exhibition panels describe the history of Aleko: stage union regulations at the time prevented Chagall from painting the backdrops himself, so the artistic group and the ballet finished the production pieces in Mexico. Aleko premiered at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City on September 8, 1942, opened at the Metropolitan Opera in New York a month later, and was also performed at the Hollywood Bowl on July 24, 1943.
Anthropomorphic creatures are a theme in the productions, with imaginative, sculpted costumes of a lion, cow, bat, and of course the Firebird. The Firebird (1945) was another commission for Ballet Theatre with Alicia Markova in the title role.
Costumes and set designs for Chagall’s Daphnis and Chloe premiered at at the Paris Opera on June 3, 1959. The Magic Flute was Chagall’s only opera production, for which he spent three years designing the 14 sets and 121 costumes.
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Organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in collaboration with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Initiated by the Cité de la musique – Philharmonie de Paris, and La Piscine – Musée d’art et d’industrie André Diligent, Roubaix, with the support of the Chagall estate.
This exhibition is supported by The Kenneth T. and Eileen L. Norris Foundation, Terry and Lionel Bell, The Jacqueline and Hoyt B. Leisure Costume and Textiles Fund, and the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles.
All exhibitions at LACMA are underwritten by the LACMA Exhibition Fund. Major annual support is provided by Kitzia and Richard Goodman, with generous annual funding from Lauren Beck and Kimberly Steward, the Judy and Bernard Briskin Family Foundation, Louise and Brad Edgerton, Edgerton Foundation, Emily and Teddy Greenspan, Jenna and Jason Grosfeld, The Jerry and Kathleen Grundhofer Foundation, David Schwartz Foundation, Inc., Taslimi Foundation, and Lenore and Richard Wayne.
Los Angeles Philharmonic Archives