PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION, NEW YORK
The present work is a cacophony of colour, filled with Chagall’s most emblematic characters, each contending for the attention of the viewer. While a goat plays a cello, a fish leaps upwards, it's curved shape contorted in mid-air; an over-sized red and orange cockerel makes its way onto the stage, overshadowing a miniature bird in the corner, all the while trapeze artists defy gravity, gymnasts handstand and dancers twirl. Audience members are softly denoted in the background as mute observers. By contrast, the vibrancy of the circus floor is rendered in light brushstrokes and a bold palette that sees hues of red, green, blue and yellow fluently combine.
For Chagall, the circus was the captivating conduit between the tangible world that encircled him and the hyper-reality of his pictorial world. The breath-taking colours, style and energy of the circus compelled and inspired him. He observed: ‘These clowns, bareback riders and acrobats have made themselves at home in my visions. Why? Why am I so touched by their make-up and their grimaces? With them I can move toward new horizons. Lured by their colours and make-up, I dream of painting new psychic distortions’ (quoted in Jacob-Baal-Teshuva (ed.), Chagall: A Retrospective, 1995, p. 196). On the verso of the present work is a sketch for one of Chagall's largest and most important works, La Commedia dell Arte, from 1958.
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