Chagall: Fantasies for the Stage

Bringing Stories to Life

I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been completely and utterly moved by a work of art. It is usually amplified by the setting, adding to the feeling of being transported to an overwhelming emotion of bliss. Last spring I went to the Palais Garnier in Paris for the first time to see a Merce Cunningham and William Forsythe choreographed ballet. I sat underneath the grand ceiling that Marc Chagall painted in 1964 and I could not stop marveling at its profound beauty. Chagall was always inspired by the performing arts, creating murals; theatrical productions; and costumes, so the Palais Garnier was a perfect location for the evening. I was moved to tears by all of it. Last week, two friends told me that the Chagall exhibition at the LACMA was a must-see because of the inspiring costumes and textiles. I took the first weekend opportunity I had to visit the museum and was immediately reminded of the brilliance of Chagall. Chagall: Fantasies for the Stage focuses on his paintings of set design and musicians as well as costumes, all from four stage productions: Aleko, The Firebird, Daphnis & Chloé, and The Magic Flute. Being a textile lover, I was drawn to the costumes made of various materials such as taffeta, feathers, velvet, and wildly painted knits with appliqués. It was a total feast for the eyes, and a reminder of why I love Chagall so much. He used more than one medium to evoke emotion, with a strong emphasis on the performing arts. This exhibition showed how he helped to bring life to characters and stories, and his work remains influential to this day.