Marc Chagall (Vitebsk, 1887 – Saint-Paul, 1985) was a Belarusian painter and printmaker who worked primarily in Paris, known for his use of bright, vivid colors to create dynamic and whimsical pieces. Chagall traveled frequently throughout his career, often using his travels as inspiration for his paintings and prints. Today, Chagall's famous paintings are more accessible through the prints the artist created of his paintings. Created in 1966, Marc Chagall's Carmen is one of these a marvelous works, featuring strong colors and fantastical figures.

Marc Chagall, Carmen, 1966

1. It adorns the Metropolitan Opera House

Chagall painted a large-scale mural entitled The Triumph of Music, which features the same scene present in Carmen on the left side of the mural. The mural occupies the lobby of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City, created for the inauguration of the theater’s present-day Lincoln Center address. A poster edition of Carmen was used as advertisement for the theater and the edition of 200 hand-signed and hand-numbered lithographs were created for museums, collectors, and institutions alike.

City skyline in Marc Chagall Carmen, 1966

2. Carmen featured a portrait of a friend

The central figure of the composition, the whimsical mandolin player dressed in a bright colorful costume, is really a portrait of the patron who commissioned the print: Rudolf Bing, Marc Chagall’s close friend and the director of the Metropolitan Opera House.

Detail from Marc Chagall Carmen, 1966

3. Carmen is one half of a series of prints

Carmen is one of two prints that featured scenes from the Metropolitan Opera House's murals and was used to advertise the theater, with the other print named The Magic Flute and featuring scenes from The Sources of Music.

An audience watches the three figures at the center of the composition.

4. The work took months to complete.

Chagall took several months to finish this work, as he did multiple retouches and made several color and compositional changes, leading to the production of a meticulously detailed and vividly colored work.

The figures' clothing is highly detailed and brightly colored.

5. It is considered one of Chagall’s best lithographs

Due to its bold and bright colors, dreamy cityscape, and dazzling figures who float above the skyline, this print is often considered one of Chagall’s best and is very sought after.

Chagall's imaginative scene feels dreamlike as the figures appear to float in the sky.


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