Nothing like being away for a few weeks and falling behind on my thirst for culture. So as soon as the bags were unpacked, it was off to the L.A. County Museum of Art, and a much anticipated exhibit of Marc Chagall’s stage designs.
As I comment on public radio 97.5 KBU, radiomalibu.net and websites everywhere, it was a most welcomed homecoming. The creatively staged exhibit was enthralling, coming alive with Chagall’s fanciful, brilliantly colored costumes, draped on mannequins, posed erect on stages.
Forty one costumes are on marvelous display, along with about 100 sketches from four of Chagall’s more notable stage designs, for the ballets “Aleko,” “The Firebird” and “Daphnis and Chloé,” and the opera, “The Magic Flute.”
Each are given its own space, with appropriate musical accompaniment and soft lighting. Design credit goes to Yuval Sharon and Jason Thompson. Stephanie Barron was the curator, once again showing her brilliance as the head of LACMA’s modern art department.
Lending the exhibit some perspective is a room displaying a splendid selection of Chagall’s more familiar masterpieces, and another room with a wall of candid photographs of the artist at work on the production. Also diverting was footage from a rare 1942 film of the original performance of Aleko.
The exhibit displayed well Chagall’s professed love of music and the theatre, lending evidence to how his once youthful desire to be a singer, dancer, violinist and poet, found expression in his paintings.
It also was for me moving, for I have always been deeply enamored with Chagall, growing up as he did in the Hasidic Jewish enclave of Vitebsk, in the pale of Russia, where my family roots are. Viewing his reveries of shtetl life fills my soul.
This has prompted me over the years to search out his paintings. Happily, they are celebrated widely, as are his distinctive stained glass windows wherever located. Just this year on a stopover in Zurich I was able to view his windows in the Fraumunster church there. They are stunning.
But stage designs being a lesser known example of his art, I particularly looked forward to the LACMA exhibit, and you should too. The exhibit opens this Sunday, and runs through January 7th, which will give me time to see it again.