Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Chagall: Colour and Music

The Blue Circus

This past weekend was my first visit to the newly-opened exhibition Chagall: Colour and Music at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. It will not be my last.

Close to 400 works of art are included: paintings, sketches, prints, costumes, sculpture, stained glass and tapestry cover almost the entire third floor of the Jean-Noël Desmarais pavilion. The range of media is a testament to Chagall's lifelong commitment to his artistic vision.

The theme of the exhibition is how music informed Chagall's work, and music plays in every alternate room of the display. Growing up in a Jewish community in White Russia (now known as Belarus), where violins were found in every household, Chagall frequently included the image of the violin and the fiddler in his work. Even fans of the artist may not realize that he created the costumes and backdrops for three ballets and one opera, Mozart's The Magic Flute

One of the highlights of the show is an enormous projected photo of the ceiling of the Paris Opera House. Visitors are encouraged to sit in beanbag chairs so they can lean back and experience the high-resolution photo. Explains John Pohl of the Montreal Gazette
"The ceiling was photographed in close-up detail by the Google Institute and is shown as a high-resolution projection, in the form of a spotlight moving across the ceiling. The paintings pay homage to composers whose works were produced at the Paris Opera; as each composer enters the spotlight, excerpts from their repertoire are played."
The Triumph of Music

I was a little disappointed to see so few of the very large Chagall paintings, like the impressive, monumental works at the Chagall Museum in Nice. Another quibble is that some of the explanatory text is printed in red ink on red walls, making it all but illegible.

Chagall: Colour and Music is the biggest Canadian exhibition ever devoted to the work of Marc Chagall (1887-1985). Running until June 11, 2017, it is bound to be a popular success. Its only other staging will be in Los Angeles, later this year.

1 comment:

carol edan said...

Chagall is one of my favorites. I recall seeing a HUGE painting in NY at the entrance to a Museum, can't recall the name. There was a staircase and on the first landing was the painting. I was beside myself.