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Marc Chagall's "Costume for a Fish" and "Costume for a Clown Aleko Scene 2"

You know you?ve hit it big as an artist when Julia Roberts references you when speaking of love, as she did in Notting Hill.

So it was fitting that we previewed Chagall: Beyond Color last week on Valentine?s Day, on a tour led by the curator of the exhibition, Olivier Meslay, and Chagall?s granddaughter, Bella Meyer.

While this fantastic exhibition displays his multifaceted career in both painting and ceramics, what we were drawn to was the room filled with ballet costumes. Chagall designed and hand-painted each one, and the collection hasn?t been on view since 1942. The ballet, Aleko, premiered in Mexico City and was a tragedy set to the music of Tchaikovsky. Meyer recalls that Chagall actually painted parts of the costumes while the dancers were wearing them at rehearsal. 

Some of the costumes, like a pair of skull-bedecked trousers, reflect the influence of Mexican folk art on Chagall, who is known for echoing the country?s culture and customs.

Meyer says another theme--?sacred and profane love?--was always on her grandfather?s mind, as evidenced in the limestone work Lovers with a Bouquet.

As a grandfather, ?he never said ?I love you? to me,? she recalls.

But, she says, he always asked if she loved him.

?Chagall: Beyond Color? is on view through May 26 at the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood St.; 214-922-1200 or dallasmuseumofart.org

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