August 23, 2012
November 13, 2012
Honolulu Museum of Art
The museum continues to highlight treasures from its prints and drawings collection with an exhibition of Marc Chagall’s Arabian Nights. With Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, Chagall is one of the 20th century’s most prolific and outstanding artists, beloved for the joyous and riotously colorful aesthetic that he practiced and perfected over the course of his long career. As a Russian émigré in Paris in the early years of the century—and over decades in exile during the Bolshevik Revolution and the Second World War—he adapted the innovations of the European avant-garde to the traditions and folklore of his Hassidic Jewish heritage to develop a form of magical realism that defies categorization.
Chagall’s expertise as a painter was rivaled only by his mastery as a printmaker, and he was particularly drawn to lithography for its ready adaptability to the creation of polychrome images. Comprised of 13 illustrations for four tales from the eponymous series, Arabian Nights is a fanciful panorama of lovers, animals, sea life, and exotic vignettes, rendered in a highly saturated palette whose flamboyance conjures a fantasy of the ancient Near East. Designed in collaboration with the master printer Albert Carman, this is Chagall’s first lithographic series, and it anticipates the proliferation of prints and illustrated books created in his lifetime to meet the growing demand for his work.