"Chagall: Beyond Color" opens Sunday at the Dallas Museum of Art, the only U.S. venue for the exhibit of more than 140 works by the artist best-known for his paintings with vibrant colors and imagery that includes people and animals floating through space. The exhibit, organizers say, is a way to revisit Chagall's entire career.
"Chagall is so well-known for the painting, the color, that suddenly you realize that he was exploring all the different media," said Olivier Meslay, the Dallas museum's associate director of curatorial affairs and curator of the exhibit.
"He's a very playful artist. He's so inventive. When you are in front of each piece, there is sort of joy coming out," Meslay said, adding: "Even the goats are smiling."
The exhibit, arranged in chronological order, shows visitors that while Chagall continued to paint with oil on canvas throughout his career, he also worked on theatrical costumes, ceramics, sculpture and even collage. Some of his best-known paintings are shown alongside the other works, showing that similar themes can be found in all of the art forms.
"There is sort of incredible ability from Chagall to play with the same topics but to be endlessly creative," Meslay said.
For instance, a bronze often called "The Fantastic Beast" from 1952 depicting a pair of lovers who appear on the side of an animal is shown alongside a painting from 1953 called "The Bastille," which with striking blues and reds also depicts lovers embracing and an animal.
"It's very interesting to see that there are correspondences everywhere and you could look at objects as different as a collage and marble and they are working so well together.
Among the displays are ballet costumes painted on by Chagall that have not been seen in the U.S. for more than 70 years. The costumes Chagall designed in 1942 for a production of "Aleko" choreographed by Leonide Massine and set to music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky are displayed along with sketches he made for the production and a film of one of the performances. The ballet premiered in Mexico City in September 1942, and it was performed a month later in New York City.
Chagall, born in 1887 in the then-Russian city of Vitebsk, which is now in Belarus, started his artistic training with Russian painter and costumer Leon Bakst in St. Petersburg.
Also included in the exhibit are sketches he made in the early 1960s as he prepared to paint the ceiling of Paris Opera House and sketches he did for the costumes and set designs for Igor Stravinky's ballet "The Firebird."
Chagall's granddaughter, Bella Meyer, a floral designer in New York City, said that by showing his work in different areas, the exhibit displays her grandfather's desire to learn how to "conquer the material."
"His imagination was immense," she said.
The exhibit runs through May 26. The Dallas Museum of Art co-organized with the Musee Piscine in Roubaix, France, where the exhibit ran through last month.
The Dallas Museum of Art, http://www.dm-art.org