Carmen, 1966

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Carmen, 1966

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Marc Chagall (Russian, 1887-1985)

Medium: Color Lithograph on Arches paper

Edition: 200

Signed in black crayon, lower right

Printer: Mourlot Atelier, Paris

Publisher: Charles Sorlier

Dimensions: 26" x 40" (32" x 46" with frame)

Catalogue Raisonné: CS 39

"I adore the theater and I am a painter. I think the two are made for a marriage of love. I will give all my soul to prove this once more." ~Marc Chagall

 

Upon adapting Carmen to a large-scale format to occupy the height of the façade of the Metropolitan Opera House, “Chagall was indefatigable in attempting time after time to achieve the desired result, with ever-increasing effectiveness” (Sorlier 110). The outcome was a meticulously detailed and marvelous work. Several retouches and color & compositional changes resulted in several months of perfecting the work. Carmen is proof of Chagall’s enduring talent and skill of extracting each color and pushing it to its boldest and brightest to create a scene of dazzling performers set over a dreamy cityscape. This is considered one of Chagall’s best lithographs.

In the center of the this monumental composition, a whimsical mandolin player captures our attention, dressed in a bright, colorful costume as he twirls his instrument; this musician was later revealed to be the artist’s close confidante, Rudolf Bing, director of the Metropolitan Opera House at the time. It was a secret – yet recognizable – portrait of not only his friend, but the patron who commissioned this piece. Surrounding this central musician, two figures gracefully perform for an awestruck audience. Colorful animals flit throughout the composition while at the bottom, a city of skyscrapers guides our eye upwards, relaying the impression that the central figures are suspended in midair. From the superb coloration to the joyous expressions of the figures, this magnificent piece transports us to Chagall’s magical, carefree world.

Marc Chagall Carmen 1966, was created in 1966 from a maquette for Chagall’s “Triumph of Music,” a series of 2 large-scale decorations created for the Metropolitan Opera House in New York (one being Carmen, the other, The Magic Flute). From an edition of 200, this piece was pulled on Arches paper and also hand signed by Marc Chagall (Vitebsk, 1887 – Saint-Paul, 1985) in the lower right. A small inscription in the lower left states: ‘D’Apres Marc Chagall – Ch. Sorlier Grav,’ indicating Charles Sorlier as the publisher of the piece. Printed by Mourlot, Paris for the Editions of the Metropolitan Opera, New York.

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