Chagall returns to Thessaloniki

THESSALONIKI – The imaginary world of Marc Chagall will be brought back to the city of Thessaloniki later this year, following a previous exhibition of his work in 2004. The exhibition – which will begin in September and run for several months – will consist of seven Chagall works from the «Commedia dell’Arte» collection, currently at the Frankfurt Opera, which have been released on loan to the Greek city’s State Museum of Contemporary Art by Germany’s Ikonen Museum. The loan is part of an exchange program developed by the two museums during a joint research project on the influence of Byzantine art in the Russian avant garde. The works will be administered by the Thessaloniki museum for more than a year. Chagall was commissioned to develop «Commedia dell’Arte» for the city’s new theater by the cultural officer of the Frankfurt Municipality in 1959. It was the artist himself who chose the name «Commedia dell’Arte,» suggesting that audiences would find in the paintings a continuation of what they had just seen on stage. The seven (out of 15) sketches scheduled to go on display are completed compositions based on various materials and techniques, in which members of the audience surround a circus stage. «The organization of the visual arts space resembles the closed structure of a real theater stage,» says Miltos Papanikolaou, director of the State Theater of Contemporary Art. «The space is constructed within the framework of academic painting, as a unified, three-dimensional system, while at the same time demonstrating various perspectives; an artistic conception which is related to icon-painting.» The most imposing of the series (2.55 x 4 meters), along with the rest of the works, traveled outside German borders for the first time last year, going on display at the Thessaloniki Port Gallery. For their second stint abroad, the Ikonen Museum has undertaken to cover expenses for their restoration, which will allow them to be presented to the Greek public in their original form. The «Commedial dell’Arte» works will be showcased at the Lazariston Monastery as a separate unity, within the context of the «Light and Color of the Russian Avant Garde» exhibition, through which the State Museum of Contemporary Art presented the treasures of the Kostakis collection in Berlin and Vienna.

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