Wanted: art lover with deep pockets and a high ceiling — a in point of fact high ceiling. A 65-foot-high ceiling, 20 toes taller than the Hollywood signal, 25 toes taller than a phone pole and 46 toes taller than a beefy-grown giraffe.
The object in request is a stage curtain — a revolt of figures on a fiery red background not somewhat 44 toes extensive — that Marc Chagall created for a Metropolitan Opera production of Mozart’s “Die Zauberflöte” (“The Magic Flute”) within the 1960s, at in regards to the same time he designed the well-known murals that flank the Met’s lobby at Lincoln Center. The curtain is to be auctioned on Tuesday in Fresh York by Bonhams, which estimates that this would possibly possibly promote for $250,000 to $500,000.
The curtain’s expansive dimension is why it’s being provided. It used to be too broad for the gap where basically the most most up-to-date owner wished to grasp it, in a museum in Armenia, a lofty pyramid with synthetic waterfalls that is quite as enormous as the Empire Impart Constructing. And so it used to be folded, effect abet in its personalized-made crate and returned to Fresh York.
“It does desire a diversified condominium,” stated Molly Ott Ambler, a senior vice chairman of Bonhams. “It’s a obvious object to desire into fable.”
But in incompatibility to auctions where the merchandise being provided — a painting or a diamond or a tiny mark — is carried to the podium earlier than the bidding begins, the curtain will live in its crate on Tuesday. It is far so colossal that Bonhams needed to hire a studio about half of the scale of a football field real to photo it.
“It’s the kind of quintessentially Chagall image, with multiple figures and a swirling yarn flying thru the air,” Ms. Ott Ambler stated, noting that Chagall used extra gold and silver pigment on the curtain’s linen material than on the sets for ballets that he had designed when he used to be youthful. “He’s in point of fact factual at incorporating geometric shapes, at giving the sun and moon a vibrating quality. He’s ready to originate these dynamic relationships between the sections of the curtain that tell the legend.”
The Met provided the curtain, considered within the closing act of the production, in 2007, two years earlier than it effect up the murals within the lobby as collateral for a mortgage within the wake of the financial disaster.
The curtain, completed in collaboration with the Russian stage dressmaker Volodia Odinokov, used to be section of the superb opera effect that Chagall designed. Artists own long expanded their portfolios by collaborating with choreographers and directors. In all probability basically the most famed such partnership used to be Salvador Dalí’s backdrop for Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller “Spellbound” in 1945. Artists love Eugene Berman and John Piper designed opera sets — Berman did five for the Met from 1951 to 1963 — and Maurice Sendak’s tough sketches and polished designs for operas and ballets were the field of an exhibition at the Morgan Library & Museum final one year. The sculptor Henry Moore designed a staging of “Don Giovanni” by Mozart in 1967 that included abstract shapes made of froth rubber. And Julie Taymor, the Tony Award-winning director of “The Lion King,” designed a brand new “Magic Flute” for the Met in 2004 to interchange one designed by the painter David Hockney.
Chagall had created artistic settings for ballets within the 1940s but didn’t enterprise into opera till Sir Rudolf Bing, the director of the Met, persuaded him to work on a brand new production of Mozart’s final opera, a yarn about a prince assigned to rescue the abducted daughter of the Queen of the Evening.
Bing, who used to be pleasant with Chagall, had tried to get him to achieve a production for a ballet within the 1950s. Chagall stated no to that venture and to Verdi’s “Nabucco,” which used to be scheduled for the 1960 season. But he would possibly possibly moreover not pronounce no to “The Magic Flute.” It used to be a current. “There would possibly be nothing on earth that approaches those two perfections, ‘The Magic Flute’ and the Bible,” he once declared.
Chagall, then in his 70s, had real unveiled a brand new painted ceiling on the Paris Opera, in point of fact a effect of panels that were positioned over the usual spherical painting by Jules Eugène Lenepveu. Chagall created a swirl of figures and symbols that paid tribute to Bizet’s “Carmen,” Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde” and Mussorgsky’s “Boris Godunov,” among others — and “The Magic Flute.”
After which he plunged into the new Met production. His granddaughter Bella Meyer described the curtain as “a total occasion” of the composer. “It used to be an unparalleled adventure for him to have the ability to pass into the enviornment of Mozart and to have the ability to raise it onto the stage,” she stated in an interview.
“The Magic Flute” used to be deliberate for the Met’s first season at Lincoln Center. Chagall “drew and painted sketches from morning to nighttime,” Bing wrote in his memoir, “A Knight on the Opera” (1981), and met with Günther Rennert, the production’s director.
No longer everybody used to be brooding in regards to the final consequence. John Canaday, The Fresh York Times’s art critic on the time, stated that Chagall “appears to be like to own concept of the task quite too great as a one-man reveal,” while Harold C. Schonberg, The Times’s chief song critic, complained that the gap-night viewers used to be not listening to the arias but “busy attempting to rely the sequence of figures within the backdrop.”
Smooth, the Chagall-designed “Magic Flute” remained within the Met’s repertoire for 24 years. Even after the production used to be retired, the sets were brought out infrequently for dim-tie dinner-dances for Met patrons.
After which the Met provided the curtain to Gerard L. Cafesjian, a collector who had made a fortune from his stake in a Midwestern publishing condominium. Ms. Ott Ambler stated that Mr. Cafesjian, who died in 2013, “loved works of colossal coloration and highly effective affect.” (His property now owns the curtain.) He used to be moreover obsessed on his Armenian heritage and reportedly gave better than $50 million for the museum within the Armenian capital of Yerevan.
“I assume he observed this as a doubtlessly stable centerpiece” for the museum, she stated of the curtain. “I assume he found it to be a compelling occasion of lifestyles and the photos you suspect of with Chagall, the colossal blue hen within the foreground or the symbols of song that Chagall portrayed over and over. Chagall used to be continuously buying for pleasure, and song used to be a most necessary section of that.”