Le Cirque

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Le Cirque “Circus is a magical world, for it betokens the thousand-year old dance in which people and their smiles take the form of great art.”

Kathy Buist, Gold: Reflections of the Garden, 48” x 48”

Natasha Zupan, Color Boundaries 66, 72” x 60”


INTRODUCTION

Galerie d’Orsay

“I would like to live and make all the dreams of the characters drawn in this book come true” Marc Chagall

Marc Chagall is the master of color and the dream. Nowhere are his superlative compositions and avant-garde lithographic techniques more evident than in the celebrated Circus Suite. Executed during the pinnacle of his print-making oeuvre, the Circus Suite is the finest of Chagall’s “livres d’artiste” (artist’s books) and one of the most revered editions of last century. It is with great pride that I present this distinguished collection alongside numerous additional lithographs, etchings, drawings and paintings by this innovative master. Chagall began this dazzling project in the late 1920s when his dealer and confidant, Ambroise Vollard, took him to the Cirque Medrano. Chagall’s lithographer and assistant, Charles Sorlier, remarks that the artist took “child-like” pleasure in the circus; however, what really fascinated him was not strictly the entertainment. It was the journey of the imagination, and the contrast of emotions he saw befall the performers’ reality once the crowd evaporated from the theater and the show ceased. Despite a troubled life – enduring the sudden death of his wife, being ostracized from his native Russia and seeking political asylum in the U.S. to escape Nazi persecution – Chagall persistently filled his imaginative compositions with joy, romance, music and whimsy. At a time when many artists followed the various popular artistic modes - such as Cubism, Dadaism, and Surrealism – Chagall maintained a highly individualistic style that disobeyed all other motifs practiced among his contemporaries. It is this individualism and commitment to his creative instincts that elevate his enchanting and mystifying compositions to remarkable heights. Paintings, drawings and prints by Chagall are in nearly every major fine art museum; including the Louvre Museum in Paris, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. Please join us as we immerse ourselves in the drama, spectacle and delight of the Circus with Marc Chagall.


The present work by Marc Chagall includes the original text of Cirque and the thirty-eight original lithographs executed by the artist for the illustration of this text. The lithographs have been printed on the Mourlot presses. The test has been composed by hand in “Romain du Roi” corps trente-deux designed by Philippe Grandjean in the XVIIth century by order of Louis XIV. The layout is by Georges Arnoult. The composition and impression have been realized under the leadership of Paul Lajuncomme. The printing was completed on the presses of Imprimerie Nationale on March fourtheenth, nineteen hundred sixty-seven. With André Brignole as Director Tranlated by Kenneth Cervisit


Galerie d’Orsay

LE CIRQUE 1967 M A RC CH AGA LL (18 87 - 1985)

A complete album of 38 original lithographs printed in colors and black & white on Velin d’Arches wove paper. Each plate is a richly printed impression of the definitive state from the book edition of 250. The 38 original lithographs (3 double-page sized in color, 20 single-page sized in color, 15 single-page sized in black & white) illustrate the text of the same title composed also by Chagall. The album was published by Efstratios Teriade, Editions Verve, Paris, 1967. Each plate is in excellent condition, the color plates with fresh, brilliant colors, all printed to the edges on full sheets. Catalog Reference: Fenarnd Mourlot, The Lithographs of Chagall: 1957 - 1962, Andre Sauret Editeur, Monte Carlo / Boston Book and Art Shop, Inc, Boston, 1963, pp. 131 - 163, nos 308 - 349 (illustrated).


Center Stage

I do not want to play my game. May these words, my spoken words, come out of my mouth, Out of my eyes, my nostrils, To see, finally your smile appear. I feel my weary tears flow. Another clown, a philosopher and a scientist, Has even perceived the end of this world, has predicted that, behin the remote clouds, one can see God himself. I dreamed my smiles with my colored nose. I dreamed until my last game. Give this clown a bouquet so that he will stop crying. In the colors of fire, red, gold, silver, he comes out in the middle of the stage. He pronounces words as if engrave with his teeth. He rises, climbs toward the celestial orbits. We hear his tears and his sobs. He walks toward his town. He asks: What is this game? Against what sky on what earth is it played? For whom and for what? He would like to sit down, recite aloud, Recite the psalms to an unknwon God, for this game to last a long time. A whole world, birds, animals, come out of his hands, his legs. All night long he has played in the circus. From the heights the moon has come out. It has lit with a green light theis gamer that has been plaued since eternity. In the night, something startles you. You feel in you the presence of Eternity. The endless night. The morning makes me dream with its new brightness. I dream that I am in a circus. But no, I am lying in my bed. Far away, around this bed, the horses and riders gallop. The clown laughs. A pink acrobat fans me with her fan. She calls me. She whispers to me to go on sleeping, to go on living. I have imagined my circus in the nighttime hours. It is in the middle of bedroom. We can hear laughter and shots. As in a temple, God is seated next to me. I have applauded, but God is Hes calms me. These hundreds of drawn lines, These spots of color take me behind the scences of the world. Where I am alone, like the horse in his corner. I am this clown’s friend. Standing in the entrance, he awaits his turn. I am in bed. I toss from one side to the other. This clown, he is himself and me. He declaims. With the brush in my hand, I draw him. I go on stage with him to salute. I applaud the audience. I sit down. Dressed in white this horse in my painting gallops. He inhales the vapors. He looks my way as if I alone resembled him. These acrobats swing the heights. They pass from one hand toward other hands, they pass from one leg toward other legs. They are in blue and pink. I follow them with my eyes, I surround them with the shadows and the nuances of this book. My circus plays in the sky. It plays in the clouds, amound the chairs, play in the window where the moon is reflected. The street a man passes. He snuffs out the lights of the city’s lamp posts. The show is over!


Galerie d’Orsay

Mourlot 490, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”

Mourlot 491, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”

The Pace of Nature: The Reflection, 48” x 48”


Center Stage

At night, through my head go separate words, Fragments of thoughts, Pieces of paintings. Like Van Gogh’s brush strokes, Like Mozart’s will-o’-the-wisps. I would like to hold on to these words, and go back to sleep. I want to sleep. But they run within me, Around me, Like circus horse Without riders. I have imagined the characters in my paintings. They walk upside down, their hands stretched out toward the flowers and the grave. Often they seem to me more beautiful when they sleep Or when they are dead. They are not as bautiful as a tree, a cliff, or all that is silent in nature. I have entered into Mozart’s body, into my parents’ bones, Into the soil of Mars and the moon and I say to myself: It is not I. Have I played beyond the circus, Have I gone beyond my circus, Haven’t I already played? I do not want to play. This book, like my paintings, Does not want to bow down, Does not ask for anything. I ask: Only you. I ask: Love me. Life itself turns like a circus Covered with words from Kafka’s Trial, with the words of those who run in place, but remain motionless, of those who died yesterday and are reborn today. I see only you who live only for me. Each day you place before me the flowers from our garden. Each day, the fruits are places on the plates and baskets. In the night, the birds with human feet and trembling souls fly over the horses. They play with lions, with bears. I have drawn them in this book. But I keep to myself my love for you. I hide you, you who are my hope. I look into your eyes. I seek my future, which shines like dawn. From your hands I want to receive a blessing. I tell myself that when you are with Me. J stay alive. I am in my paintings and in my words Far from the altitude of this world. How to approach you, with what steps? To approach you and make you a gift of my fate. But I lack words. My heart across the distant cities and years tells you my joy. And all the colors and words already said, I give them to you. I look into your eyes and I am still seeking promises. I would like to remove from your head the herb of worries And to give you the flowers of this book. Near you withour words, I await peace and quiet And from your hand I will receive the future. Your words resounds As the words of the Bible have resounded for me. The air enters my soul. Like a bouquet of flowers, it waters my day. Seated on a cloud, it promises me peace and quiet. I dreamed of a new spring. I dreamed of the other day and the hour. In your hands the foliage of my youth has trembled. On the threshold of your door, I transformed it into a colored cloud. My years resolved around the world. I look for them. I seek in the other unknown worlds the imaged love. Where is it? It is in the other world, A new world that does not exist in the world, I listen to its voices that are calling me from all sides.


Galerie d’Orsay

LE CIRQUE COMPOSED BY MARC CHAGALL

I recall in Vitebsk, my native town, in the wretched street, in front of three or four onlookers, someone who had come with a little boy and a little girl. Before starting his show, he placed on the ground an earth-colored rug that raised the dust. He took out a pole three or four meters high, which he held against his belt. The boy, completely naked under his pink jersey, climbed the pole. Reaching the top, he curled up like a snake. He did not smile, and his face had a grayish complexion. He looked as if he had not shaved in a long time, and yet he was still much too young for it. For me, the circus is a magical show that passes and evaporates like a crowd. There is a disquieting circus, a deep circus. Down below, his father, wearing the costume of an acrobat, held his baton against his belly, raised it to his face, and then into his mouth, showing his yellow teeth. The boy climbed down. In turn, the little girl climbed up. A child with two little braids, in a multicolored dress, very tiny, and looking so tired. She climbed down from the pole and nothing moved in the street, nor at the height from which she climbed down. I do not know if anyone gave them even a penny.

Mourlot 492, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”


Center Stage

Mourlot 526, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”

Mourlot 527, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”

Reflections On A Garden 3, 48” x 48”


Galerie d’Orsay

Mourlot 493, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”

Mourlot 494, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”


Center Stage

Mourlot 524, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”

Mourlot 525, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”


Galerie d’Orsay

And it seems to me that it is I who curl up again and again up there. At another time, I noticed a little girl. To me, she was like a circus rider without a horse. In the bareness of the courtyard, her transparent leotard shone. I remained speechless with fright seeing her again at night. These visions have transfixed me. That transparent girl, as well as the boy, vanished a long time ago. Where are they? Where did they end their days? Thus, like them, I am going to count my age, each year. These clowns, these circus riders, these acrobats have settled in my visions. Why? Why do their make-up and their grimaces move me so? I approach with them toward other horizons. Their colors and make-up lead me toward other psychic distortions, which I dream of painting. And when I see, in every-day life, a man who “plays” instead of living normally, I have the impression of evolving in a circus, but what a circus! I sometimes saw, in the past, a great actor go beyond the limits of the theatre through his acting, and sometimes a clown so brilliant that he went beyond the limits of the circus. I remember seeing, in my native town, an actor with long hair, wearing a cape. He came to Vitebsk with a whole group of actors to put on shows in the theatre of the city. He played roles in classical plays, but he himself looked like a clown. A very long time ago, coming back home, I noticed at the corner of the street, through the window, a dead man. I used it later as an element in my painting. I laid him down in the middle of the street, I placed the musician on the roof, and in doing so I perhaps created an illogical circus.

Mourlot 495, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”


Center Stage

I walk on a sky bridge. The years transparent as clouds float around me. I am only a light-colored garment without a body. I see a dance of arms and legs. I hear the echo of the centuries and millenniums, like someone who kisses me. He speaks to me of a lived life, I am transformed into a marble bouquet, and everything is covered with morning frost. If I could find the words and colors. If I could find the key. It would open for me the door of the universe which for thousands of years has floated around us, drawn us, called us and left us on the threshold, at the crossroads. The wind blows before me but my stone roses will await you for a long time, silently each day rises to the heights and melts in the clouds. And each day I await another day and another night. How long with that world like a blue painting revolve around me? On the stage of life laughter and tears have remained, and the sounds of the orchestra. Am I like the other Moses? Who did not enter his Jerusalem? All his life he fought with God And created the Bible before his people. And I bear his name, I have engraved only his Tables of the Law. Each day at sunrise I see this world again. It slumbered in my heart And like a precious stone its name shines on my hand. Toward the end of the day This stone melts, flows, Covers the sky with the redness of blood. It covers our dreams and our hopes and all the games of the day.

Mourlot 523, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”


Galerie d’Orsay

Mourlot 496, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”

Mourlot 497, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”


It always lowers its eyes with an outpouring of modesty. I hear resounding in my belly the steps of horses. I could run on a horse for the first and last time, toward the bright arena of life. I would become conscious of surpassing myself, of no longer being isolated among silent beings about whom only God knows what they think of us. These animals, horses, cows, goats, among the trees and the hills, are all silent. Us, we chat, sing, write poetry, make sketches, which they do not read, which they neither see nor hear. This book is not for them. I would like to approach this circus rider who has just appeared, smiling; her dress, a bouquet of flowers. I would surround her with my years, both those in bloom and those whose bloom has faded. On my knees I would tell her dreams and reveries not of this earth. I would run after her horse, asking it how to live, how to escape from myself, the world, whom to run to, where to go. Now another world comes to mind. It does not remind me of the human comedy. A world that leads to other horizons. I wonder how a Rembrandt, a Titian, a Giotto or the Prophets lived, how our Brother deified by the world lived. How many times have I thought of letting my colors flow so that they would become a river, of throwing a bridge over it on which I would have wanted to walk and talk like Him of love and crucifixion. I enter my circus. A clown in tears stands before me. He looks like a broken egg, The yolk of the egg runs from his mouth. A new-born pigeon comes out from behind his head.

Mourlot 522, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”


Galerie d’Orsay

I remember seeing in the window of a Paris gallery a painting representing a shoe on a chair: Van Gogh’s painting. I also recall his painting – the Landscape with Crows. For me, these were the elements of a tragic circus. I saw life, alas, as a ridiculous circus: someone roaring to frighten people, and a thunder of applause answering him. I saw too how we push ourselves towards glory andmoney: Nothing but a circus. A revolution that does not lead towards its ideal is perhaps a circus. I would like to take all of these thoughts and these feelings and hide them in the opulent tail of a circus horse and run after him, like the other little clown, asking for mercy so that he would chase this earthly sadness away. And if I have painted pictures, it is because I remember my mother, her breasts that nurtured and exalted me so warmly, and I am ready to hang myself on the moon. This cloud, this silent man who walks on the roofs, Thus I am lost and in tears. Each day, he sees his cross covered with wreaths of flowers, But he holds in hand only a blade of grass, The grass he had sent from his native town. He is looking for his God. I would like to live and be able to make all of the dreams of the characters drawn in this book come true. They speak as if in a feverish state And could flood the earth with tears, like the rain.

Mourlot 498, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”


Center Stage

Mourlot 520, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”

Mourlot 521, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”


Galerie d’Orsay

Mourlot 499, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”

Mourlot 500, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”


Center Stage

Mourlot 518, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”

Mourlot 519, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”


In these characters I can hide my sorrow, Hide a sad face smiling, Hide these poor people who are poorer when they fly higher. Fly toward other planets. I hear them say: “My body is like a shadow. I don’t know where you are. Perhaps I live. Perhaps I am a dead man, alone, alone. I love the country, but I love you more.” I hear the imploring words of this circus man before he goes out to face the public: “My body functions, My legs, my arms, my friends, If I am sad, I hold back my tears. For a long time now, no more tears. I would not like for the clouds to hear my complaints. Are people going to remember when, like a stone, I sleep? Are they going to remember when there will be no awakening? They will hear signs, the sadness of past years. Someone points with his finger: There’s the clown who cried while smiling, There’s the clown who, in the night, was sitting near the stones And dreamed among the stars, Dreamed of love, of caresses. The chattering clown smeared with blue and green, the clown lying down under the horse says: It is not I, it is the one from the drawings in this book.” I walk on the ground, asleep as in a dream. I turn throughout the year. I turn like the world in the sky. Who will tell me my end? Will count my days and my nights? My smile glides and sits down on the trees. I melt like a candle that’s burning up. I no longer hear, I do not seek the star. The wind blows from up there. It stops my playing and my sigh.

Mourlot 501, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”


Center Stage

Mourlot 517, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”


Galerie d’Orsay

Mourlot 502, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”

Mourlot 503, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”


Center Stage

There it is on my canvas And all the animals are lying down, Here in the book, With my sighs. I am far away from the animals That walk on two legs, From the words that come out Of their teeth, Which awaken me From my sleep in broad daylight, From those who are far away, From the calm and silent love, Great and deep like the tears of Moses, on Mount Sinai. I cry each hour for being born yesterday, born too late, For not having lived In the hollows of the mountains With a prayer on my lips. And when a man comes near, The leaves on my body Begin to tremble. Autumn and winter Penetrate me and I fall, An angel without wings. All my life I have drawn horses which look rather like donkeys or cows. I saw them in Liezno, at my grandfather’s, whom I often asked to take me along to neighboring villages where he would go to buy cattle for his butcher shop. He would kill them under a shed out in the courtyard. I remember, one day, I decided to climb up on the back of one of those horses. In less time than it took to sit down I had already fallen off its round warm back, and I found myself under its round belly, which I saw breathing peacefully. It had kindly remained motionless and had not trampled on the boy with his village clogs. At the sight of horses, which are always found in a state of ecstasy, I think: perhaps they are happier than we are? One can kneel down quietly in front of a horse and pray.

Mourlot 516, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”


Galerie d’Orsay

It has scattered the pages of my youth, has made my tears silent forever. I embroider a wreath of flowers from another world. They climb down trembling like the poor beggars, Like the young white fiancées. This imaginary world does not give an answer. All the musicians in these paintings stop their playing on their clouds. I hear them, they are calling me from far away. Circus is a magical word, a millennial game that is danced, where tears and smiles, the play of legs and arms, take the form of a great art. And what do most of these circus people receive? A piece of bread. Night brings them solitude, sadness. Until the next day when the evening flooded with electric lights announces to them a new old life. The circus seems to me the most tragic of spectacles. Over the centuries, it has been the shrillest cry in a man’s search for amusement and joy. It often takes the form of high poetry. I seem to see a Don Quixote on his quest for an ideal, like the brilliant clown who cried and dreamt of human love. Somewhere in me, or outside of me, strange thoughts roam, at the sight of this large cage full of beasts, of this large iron Ark filled with lions and tigers. It is, before me, Noah’s Ark. On the other side of the bars, those Noah chose to save from the Deluge are sitting. In Noah’s place, a young tamer moves a crop in his hand. He commands. I do not see the white bird that could fly away to announce peace on earth to the world. Ordinary music is playing. I am sitting, naked, and waiting for these beasts to pounce on us and take revenge for not being the men themselves. Mourlot 504, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”


Center Stage

Mourlot 514, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”

Mourlot 515, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”


Galerie d’Orsay

Mourlot 505, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”

Mourlot 507, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”


Center Stage

Mourlot 512, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”

Mourlot 513, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”


Galerie d’Orsay

Mourlot 506, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”


Center Stage

Perhaps that is why they roar and grimace, furious and unhappy with our human world! I hear from their wide-open mouths another truth coming out, an animal truth, unknown to us. They roar with other secrets of the world, incomprehensible, with contempt for us and their prison. Today they are ready to devour us. What clown could open such a mouth, loaded with so many symbols, and show teeth that are white, red and sharp as bolts of lightning? I have already drawn these lions, on King Solomon’s throne, at King David’s feet, on the arch of the temple. I have seen their images on the vestments of the high priests, on the rugs of the palaces. The music stops. We part from the circus animals. The tamer opens the gate, the offended wild beasts get into their smelly cages, and as for us, we go to our bedrooms, with our ordinary dreams. Among the lions I am the angel. I do not hear the noises of the earth And the cries from the houses. Among the horses and the birds I am their brother, Their son who cries. I feel nostalgia for them. The air from the sky in my heart Goes to them. I seek their glance and a sign from them and await their call. I am their acknowledged painter. O cow from my distant city which my mother milked for me, On the earth where you lie My tears were born and are buried. My painted canvases of you Go back to you And bow before you. The horse that pulled the cart And carried the dead man To his house, That horse, I painted it.

Mourlot 511, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”


Galerie d’Orsay

Mourlot 508, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”

Mourlot 509, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”


Center Stage

Mourlot 510, 16 13/16” x 12 13/16”


Passionate about what we do, educated in what we offer. 33 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116 info@galerie-dorsay.com / 617.266.8001 / www.galerie-dorsay.com


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