Wednesday, October 8, 2014

World of wonders: spotlight on Marc Chagall's ceiling and more from the Palais Garnier

Instead of booking expensive trips to view the world's wonders, cash-strapped, armchair art lovers can now behold them with a few clicks of a keyboard.
It's all part of the Google Cultural Institute, the current offerings of which range from Hamburg's Archaeological Museum and the Rubens House in Antwerp to the National Cowboy Museum in the U.S. (There are at present more than 500 partners from over 60 countries, with more than 6.2 million objects and artifacts already online.)
In 1964, Marc Chagall completed a fantastical painting, in Paris's Palais Garnier (a.k.a. the Paris Opera), depicting scenes from works by Mozart, Mussorgsky, Beethoven, Verdi, Debussy, Wagner, Berlioz, and more. Problem was, the lofty opus was difficult to inspect, as it was almost 60 feet above the floor.
The Paris Opera, with Chagall's opus on the ceiling (Corbis)
Now, thanks to the internet, anyone can view this colorful masterpiece in minute detail. Chagall's great work has been digitized, allowing viewers to zoom in and out, looking at each scene up close and personal. I've selected a few of my favorites to share with you, above and below.
The central panel evokes four composers and works. On this half are Gluck's Orpheus and Eurydice (Eurydice plays the lyre [Orpheus’s instrument] and an angel offers flowers) and Bizet's Carmen. 
Only Chagall would have a bull playing the guitar!
This evocation of Pelleas et Melisande by Debussy is bounded by one of the splendid gilt details that encircle the composition.
Above, Tristan and Isolde, and a woman playing a stringed instrument. So lovely! Below, a bit of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake.
Chagall's conception of Mozart's Magic Flute. A giant angel fills the sky while a bird plays the flute. Chagall designed the sets and costumes for the 1967 Metropolitan Opera production of the opera.
 Below are several more examples of the opulent decoration in the building, beginning with a panel by Paul Baudry depicting Salome dancing before Herod. Baudry also did a series of Muses.
The digitized artworks also extend to the outside of the building. At the tippy-top is the bronze statue "Apollon, la Poésie et la Musique" (1860-1869), by Aimé Millet, while the front is graced by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux's sculpture "La danse."
Bon voyage!

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