Category Archives: Artists & Special Collections

Own a Piece of Art History with the Holiday Sale

Have you ever been in a museum admiring artwork by a master artist and thought, “What would it be like to own this? How would it look in my living room or study?”

Owning artwork by an old or contemporary master is a privilege and joy that cannot be compared. Collectors can experience this joy for themselves with Park West Gallery’s Holiday Sale, featuring works by some of history’s greatest artists.

Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669)

"Jan Antonides van der Linden, Physician" (1665), Rembrandt van Rijn Park West Gallery

Jan Antonides van der Linden, Physician” (1665), Rembrandt van Rijn. B., Holl. 264; BB. 65-1

Rembrandt is considered one of the greatest visual artists in the history of art. The artistic genius is known for his mastery of painting, printmaking and draftsmanship. During his lifetime, the Dutch artist earned the reputation of being the greatest etcher in history.

Rembrandt’s “Jan Antonides van der Linden, Physician” is the artist’s last-known etching, created four years before his death. The image was intended to be used for the frontispiece (an illustration facing the title page of a book) of an edition of writings by Hippocrates. The publisher rejected it, as they required an engraving instead of an etching.

 

Francisco Goya (1773-1812)

"Se aprovechan" (They make use of them), (1810-1820), Francisco Goya Park West Gallery

Se aprovechan” (They make use of them), (1810-1820), Francisco Goya. Delteil 135; Harris 136

Goya is classified as the last of the Old Masters – skilled artists who worked in Europe before 1800 – and the first of the modern artists. The Spanish romantic painter and printmaker is considered the most important Spanish artist of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He worked as a court painter for Spanish royalty.

Goya suffered from an unknown disease in 1792 that left him deaf. Following this, his artwork became bleak and dark. This theme carried into his collection of 82 prints, “The Disasters of War.” The collection represents his visualization of, and protests against, the atrocities of war in the early 1800s. “Se aprovechan” (They Make Use of Them) shows one such horror – soldiers stripping the dead of clothing.

 

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

pablo picasso, park west gallery, suite vollard

Faune Devoilant une Femme” by Pablo Picasso.

Picasso is one of the most renowned artists in the world. The Spanish artist is regarded as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, having co-founded important movements like Cubism and also the medium of collage, and contributing to the development of mediums such as painting, sculpting and printmaking.

Faune Devoilant une Femme” (The Faun Unveiling a Woman) is part of the Vollard Suite, a collection of 100 etchings by Picasso. This etching is the largest and one of the most celebrated of the Vollard works. The imagery is based on Rembrandt’s etching, “Jupiter and Antiope,” which was inspired by the myth about the Roman god Jupiter’s seduction of a princess. The artwork is said to be Picasso’s acknowledgement of the end of his passionate relationship with Marie-Thérèse Walter.

 

Marc Chagall (1887-1985)

Chagall, Marc (after) Femme de Cirque 1960 Park West Gallery

Femme de Cirque” (1960), Marc Chagall (after)

Chagall created artwork in nearly every format, and is a pioneer of modern art who revolutionized the medium of lithography. The Russian-French artist is counted as one of the most significant Jewish artists of the 20th century.

Park West Gallery’s Holiday Sale features a colorful Chagall lithograph titled “Femme de Cirque” (Circus Woman). Chagall once wrote: “Circus! A magical word, a centuries old entertainment parading before us, in which a tear, a smile, a gesture of arm or leg takes on the quality of great art.” This artwork depicts that sentiment by featuring a female acrobat holding her balance atop a bucking goat.

Celui qui dit les choses sans rien dire (Those who say things without saying) 1975-76 Cr. 99 Marc Chagall Park West Gallery

Celui qui dit les choses sans rien dire” (Those who say things without saying), (1975-76), Marc Chagall. Cr. 99

The second work is an etching, titled, “Celui qui dit les choses sans rien dire” (Those who say things without saying), originating from Chagall’s suite of 25 images that visualize the words of French poet Louis Aragon, a founding member of the Surrealist movement.

 

Joan Miró (1893-1983)

"Ronde Nuit" (Night Watch), (1970), Joan Miro. M. 672; C. books 134 Park West Gallery

Ronde Nuit” (Night Watch), (1970), Joan Miro. M. 672; C. books 134

Andre Breton, a founder of Surrealism, called Miró “the most Surrealist of us all.” Miró earned international acclaim for his re-creation of the childlike mindset in his art. The Spanish painter, sculptor and ceramicist developed his style based on Catalan folk art, using organic forms, flattened planes and sharp lines.

The above color lithograph, “Ronde Nuit” (Night Watch), is taken from a catalog for an exposition of Miró sculptures. The artwork may be referencing Rembrandt’s famous painting, “The Night Watch.” With its abstract forms, one can find multiple interpretations of “Rone Nuit.” For example, the black and red shape on the right could be a night watchman armed with a crossbow.

 

Marcel Mouly (1918-2008)

Mouly, Marcel Le Compotier Rouge 1978 Park West Gallery

Le Compotier Rouge” (1978), Marcel Mouly

The boldly-colored, semi-abstract art of French artist Mouly is found in the permanent collections of over 20 museums, including the Museum of Modern Art in Paris. He studied with masters of modern art, including Picasso and Chagall, earning a reputation as one of the most important artists of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

Park West Gallery offers the chance to own a unique oil painting by Mouly, “Le Compotier Rouge” (translated literally to be “The Red Fruit Dish”). When examining the painting, it is apparent Mouly was deeply influenced by Picasso’s Cubism and Henri Matisse’s Fauvism. Mouly’s connection to the leaders of modern art is even more apparent when one discovers that his art was shown alongside art by Matisse in Paris in 1945.

Contact our gallery consultants at (800) 521-9654 ext. 4 or sales@parkwestgallery.com  to learn more about collecting art from the masters.

Peter Max G.E.M. Portrait Presented to Chinese Popstar

Throughout his historic artistic career, iconic Pop artist Peter Max has portrayed the biggest celebrities in the world from the Beatles to Taylor Swift. Now, the legendary painter has taken on a star from another continent: China’s pop princess G.E.M.

On December 4, guests and media joined aboard Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum of the Seas in Shanghai, China to watch Park West Gallery unveil Max’s eye-popping portrait of G.E.M. Max and G.E.M. donated the artwork to the China Foundation of Culture and Arts for Children. Proceeds will go toward artistic enrichment for children in impoverished areas of China.

g-e-m

G.E.M. portrait by Peter Max

“Art and music are both universal languages which rise above all else to connect us as human beings,” Park West Gallery Executive Vice President of Sales Stoney Goldstein said. “Here, a bright shining star in the East meets a longtime legend of the West for a very special collaboration that will have an everlasting impact. Today, we all experienced something truly remarkable.”

The stunning portrait mimics the high energy of G.E.M.’s pop songs, pulling the viewer into the artwork like the catchy beat of her music. Max created the painting in his signature Pop art style with bright colors and bold brush strokes. The portrait was based off the singer’s latest album, “25LOOKS,” and features G.E.M. with a lollipop in front of her mouth.

Park West Gallery Vice President of Sales Stoney Goldstein unveils Peter Max painting with G.E.M.

Park West Gallery Vice President of Sales Stoney Goldstein unveils Peter Max painting with G.E.M.

“I’ve seen Peter Max’s work in galleries, and I loved his imaginary, bold and colorful art,” G.E.M. said. “It’s an honor to be involved, and I hope together we can all do something good for those less fortunate.”

As one of the best-selling female pop artists in Asia, G.E.M. — an acronym for Get Everybody Moving — is no stranger to the spotlight. The 25-year-old singer was named Asian Artist of the Year by Billboard in 2015 and has more than 300 million followers on social media. Even with G.E.M.’s impressive resume, the portrait from Peter Max stands out as a special thrill for the singer.

G.E.M. speaks to the media at Park West Gallery unveiling of Peter Max portrait.

G.E.M. speaks to the media at Park West Gallery unveiling of Peter Max portrait.

“I’m excited about being immortalized in a Peter Max painting, and having them unveiled in one of my most favorite cities,” G.E.M. said. “The strong feeling of connections might come from our childhood memories of the city.”

The two pop artists share a surprising childhood background. Max lived in Shanghai from 1938 to 1948, the same city where G.E.M. was born in 1991. Although he has painted some of the biggest celebrities of the century, Max says creating the portrait of G.E.M. was especially rewarding.

G.E.M. at unveiling of her Peter Max portrait in Shanghai.

G.E.M. at unveiling of her Peter Max portrait in Shanghai.

“I always paint while music blares in the background,” Max says. “Painting G.E.M. was a special thrill as she is extremely talented and we grew up in the same city—many years apart of course!”

View more artwork from Peter Max online or travel alongside Park West Gallery on more than 100 cruise ships.

Patriotic Artwork Presented to Family on Military Makeover

After hard work and home renovations, the Military Makeover® team welcomed the Phinizy family to their new South Florida home. The military family stepped inside to find beautiful new appliances, refinished wood floors and their very own Park West Gallery art collection.

“It’s so fulfilling to have the opportunity to bring art into people’s lives who probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity before,” Park West Gallery Director Morris Shapiro said.

Park West Gallery was proud to join the award-winning producers of Designing Spaces® on the mini-series Military Makeover. Throughout the show, Military Makeover serves a deserving military family by completely overhauling their home. This season, Military Makeover thanked veteran Billy Phinizy for his service as an Army combat medic in Afghanistan.

To help make the Phinizy’s house a home, Park West Gallery added the finishing touches with artwork from Peter Max, Norman RockwellRomero Britto and Tim Yanke. Park West Gallery’s master framer also custom-framed several photos as well as an American flag presented to Phinizy upon his retirement.

In recognition of Billy Phinizy’s service, Park West Gallery gifted the Phinizy family with several patriotic works of art:

Artwork from Peter Max’s 9/11 Series

Peter Max 9/11 art

“God Bless America – With Five Liberties” (2001), Peter Max

Max uses the Statue of Liberty as an icon in his 9/11 Series. To adorn the Phinizy family’s walls with eye-catching artwork, Park West Gallery presented the family with 2 of the 6 unique variations in Max’s series.

Custom Tim Yanke “Yanke Doodle”

"Yanke Doodle" (2016) Tim Yanke

“Yanke Doodle” (2016) Tim Yanke

To personalize the Phinizy’s home, Yanke created a custom “Yanke Doodle” specifically for the military family. The “Star-Spangled Banner” is written across the colorful flag, creating a multi-layered work of art that adds a patriotic pop to the room.

Norman Rockwell’s “A Pictorial History of the United States Army”

"A Pictorial History of the United States Army" (2012) Norman Rockwell

“A Pictorial History of the United States Army” (2012) Norman Rockwell

Rockwell’s patriot artwork offers a classic interpretation to the Phinizy family’s new art collection. The painting’s serious nature speaks to the solemn reality of war, a reality Phinizy experienced first-hand as an active military member.

“I Love This Land” Romero Britto

Romero Britto

I Love This Land” (2014) Romero Britto

Britto’s “I Love This Land” is a heartwarming tribute to the freedoms United States citizens experience because of military sacrifices. The colorful, three-dimensional artwork adds a warm glow to the Phinizy family’s newly-remodeled home.

Watch Military Makeover airing on Lifetime TV® Friday at 7:30 a.m. EST/PST. Check out artwork from well-known artists in Park West Gallery’s Holiday Sale Collection online.

Park West Gallery shows the power of paint improves lives

Park West Gallery Turnaround Arts New York Times

Students work on self portraits at San Bernardino’s Barton Elementary in California during a Turnaround Arts event. (Photo courtesy of T Studio)

Park West Gallery is taking strides to ensure that art is for everyone, not only through its cruise art auctions, but to ensure art is in the classroom and available for all to enjoy.

In a post created by T Brand Studio on the New York Times site, the importance of including art in education is highlighted by efforts from Park West Gallery and some of the artists it represents, including Autumn de Forest, Romero Britto and Guy Harvey.

Autumn, a 14-year-old artistic prodigy, travels around the country with the Turnaround Arts program, working directly with students to inspire them and promote art education. Turnaround Arts is a public-private program organized by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities to improve low-ranking schools in 14 states. Park West Gallery donates art supplies for the students to use.

“I am honored to work with the Turnaround Arts program,” says Autumn. “This program helps schools that really need the arts, music, dance and theatre.”

According to the article, a two-year study of Turnaround Arts schools demonstrated that math scores had increased by 22.5 percent and reading scores by 12.6 percent. Meanwhile, studies from the Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds have revealed that exposure to the arts increases academic engagement and enrollment.

Other artists with Park West Gallery, including Britto and Harvey, encourage arts education, and speak to how it positively impacted their careers as artists.

“I still think that, in school, they should emphasize more arts and culture,” Britto says in the article. “It does give a possibility [to] create something unique and new.”

Along with the artists, Park West Gallery Founder and CEO Albert Scaglione says his 40-plus year career has focused on bringing art to the masses through art auctions and educational efforts. The gallery’s non-profit organization, the Park West Foundation, also plays a key role, such as underwriting museum exhibitions around the country. These exhibitions have included Autumn at the Butler Institute of American Art and Yaacov Agam at the Museum of Geometric and MADI Art.

Read the full article here.

Experience “Art and Serenity” with David Najar

David Najar

Lavender Day” (2014), David Najar

Enter a world of tranquility, full of colorful fields, reflective rivers and swaying trees as Park West Gallery presents the artwork of international artist David Najar in his first solo exhibition at the gallery.

Experience “Art and Serenity” from April 3-29 at Park West Gallery, located in Southfield, Michigan, where 45 new and archival works by Najar will be on display and available to collect for the first time.

Take advantage of the rare opportunity to meet Najar in person during an opening reception held April 2 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Light refreshments will be served.

Najar, a native of Israel, can be described as a contemporary expressionist. Visitors can view and collect these engrossing works, including originals and giclées, during the course of the exhibition. David Gorman, Park West Gallery Director, says viewing artwork by Najar allows observers to escape the chaos of their everyday lives and enter a state of serenity in his landscapes.

“These windows into alternate realities promote a sense of calmness and tranquility, elevating the viewer into a dreamlike state,” Gorman says.

Najar says he finds inspiration in nature, emphasizing the beauty of the natural world through oil and acrylic paintings created in a spontaneous and instinctual method.

“Sometimes, to breathe, we think we need such an expensive vacation to somewhere, but we can do it every day,” Najar says. “There is a lot of beauty around us.”

david najar park west gallery

“Season Illusion” (2014), Park West Gallery

Najar has studied with artists such as Moshe Rosenthalis and Park West Gallery artist Itzchak Tarkay. His works have been collected worldwide and exhibited in Israel, the United States and Canada.

“There is a simplicity that exists in Najar’s compositions – the type that can only arrive after decades of perfecting his craft,” Gorman says. “Park West Gallery is pleased to offer a solo exhibition for this internationally acclaimed painter.”

Admission to the exhibition and gallery is complimentary. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. For more information or to RSVP for the opening, call 248-354-2343 or email RSVP@parkwestgallery.com.

Top 10 Park West Gallery moments of 2015

Park West Gallery MI

Park West Gallery had a busy year in 2015, and as we move into 2016, we’re taking a look at some of our favorite moments from the past year.

1. Thomas Kinkade art on canvas

Thomas Kinkade holiday

“Holiday Gathering” (1998), Thomas Kinkade

Park West Gallery is an international art dealer found aboard more than 100 cruise ships. Thanks to this status, it has gained access to Thomas Kinkade artwork that is normally difficult to acquire, and is offering these limited-edition “International Proofs” to its clients.

The six original paintings used as studies for the limited-edition graphic works were created by Kinkade and certified by the artist before his passing. They are among the top 25 best-selling Kinkade paintings, and three are in the top 10.

“We appreciate that Park West shares our vision of maintaining the collectability of Thomas Kinkade artwork and honoring the Kinkade legacy,” states James Lambert, vice president of marketing for the Thomas Kinkade Company.

2.Fox 5 Good Day NY

The art world saw record-setting purchases in 2015 with a Pablo Picasso selling for $179.4 million and a Modigliani for $170.4 million, contributing to more than $2 billion in art sales. To provide insight into the art world and art auctions, Park West Gallery Auctioneer Rob Ducat was invited onto Fox 5 Good Day NY to speak with hosts Rosanna Scotto and Greg Kelly and hold a mock auction.

3. Expanding into China

Park West Art Auction

Park West Art Auction

With cruise lines experiencing a double-digit annual increase of Asian passengers, the industry is sending its biggest and newest ships to define itself in this massive new Asian market. From 2012 to 2014, the number of Chinese passengers grew 79 percent each year.

Park West Gallery is pleased to be on ships with lines like Royal Caribbean International, and expects to have an influence on the global art market. In five years, the gallery has seen a 114 percent increase in the number of clients who live in Asia.

“There is a growing demand for high-quality art, and the Chinese market is showing signs of long-term growth, so I imagine this will continue into the future,” says Park West Gallery Founder and CEO Albert Scaglione.

4. Albert Scaglione in the news

Albert Scaglione Park West Gallery

Park West Gallery Founder and CEO Albert Scaglione had a busy year, with many prominent media outlets profiling him or gaining his insight into the art world. He was featured twice in the Huffington Post and had radio interviews with BOLD, Sunday Edition, Michigan’s BIG Show and StartUpNation. He also made a cameo in a video about the gallery by the Sun Sentinel!

5. Park West introduces dye sublimation art

Michael Cheval dye sublimation absurd art

“Melody of Rain” (2015), Michael Cheval

In continuing its mission to bring the best and most innovative artwork to collectors, Park West Gallery began offering artwork created through dye sublimation. This digital printing process gives artists the chance to create images on aluminum that are far more resistant and durable than traditional canvas or paper.

Artists like Michael Cheval and Guy Harvey are creating artwork with dye-sublimation, are impressed with the results.

“It’s the color, the vividness, the sharpness, it was unbelievable,” Cheval says. “Aluminum makes it like an HDTV.”

6. Autumn de Forest receives award from Vatican

On Nov. 7, 2015, Autumn de Forest received one of the biggest honors to date in the form of the International Giuseppe Sciacca Award for Painting and Art. This is given to individuals age 35 and under for their talents in art and knowledge, but also for being positive role models.

Autumn has assisted organizations like Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, This Bar Saves Lives, the Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund and encouraging art education as a participating artist in Turnaround Arts, a signature program for the Presidents’ Committee on the Arts and Humanities.

7. Britto represents the 2016 Summer Olympics

Romero Britto, Park West Gallery artist
Park West Gallery was pleased to announce that world-renowned artist Romero Britto was named an official ambassador for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, held in his home country of Brazil.

Britto revealed the news during a visit to Park West Gallery’s Miami Lakes location on Jan. 20. The Neo-pop artist was appointed to be a Brazilian ambassador for the 2016 Olympics by the Brazilian Olympic Committee.

As an ambassador, Britto was also nominated by Coca-Cola to carry the Olympic Torch when the games arrive. He will also team up with the soda company to create paintings, pins and bottles.

“As a Brazilian it is a wonderful feeling to be nominated as a Rio 2016 Olympic Torchbearer in my country,” Britto said.

8. Guy Harvey and the NCL Escape

Guy Harvey Park West Gallery

Guy Harvey (Photo courtesy of John Bell)

The gallery was thrilled to sign with Harvey not only because of his awe-inspiring marine life art, but his conservation efforts with the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation.

“This relationship will broaden the reach of my art for patrons and at the same time help spread the message for ocean conservation,” said Harvey, who in 2011 received the Simon Conservation Award from Artists for Conservation.

Harvey’s artwork is featured on the hull of Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest and largest ship, Escape, which set sail for its inaugural cruise on Nov. 14. He is the third Park West artist to have artwork featured on the hull of a ship, following Peter Max and Lebo.

9. Pangborn creates art for the White House Fellows

Dominic Pangborn White House Fellows

Artwork created by Dominic Pangborn for the White House Fellows’ 50th anniversary (Image courtesy of Carolyn Chin)

Dominic Pangborn attended the White House Fellows 2015 Leadership Conference on October 22-23 and gala on Oct. 24 in Washington, D.C., where he presented his artwork to the White House Fellows during their 50th anniversary celebration. The Art in Motion he created for the Fellows features a board covered in photos from the past 50 years of White House Fellows.

“It went well beyond any expectations,” Pangborn says. “The reception, visit to the White House, the gala dinner – I’ve never had so much appreciation and gratefulness.”

10. Unique exhibitions

Nano Lopez Park West Gallery

Park West Gallery hosted Nano Lopez’s largest exhibition to date in June.

Throughout the year, Park West Gallery held exhibitions at its location in Southfield, Michigan, many of which were the first time the artist was featured in their own show at the gallery. The exhibitions included artists such as Lebo, Pangborn, Tim Yanke and Marcus Glenn.

Of note was the Pino exhibition, was one of the largest single collections of Pino art in one place, and the Chris DeRubeis exhibition, which was the first-ever solo show at Park West Gallery offering his metal art.

Look forward to more exhibitions in 2016! 

Detroit artist Tim Yanke reveals new works at Park West Gallery

Tim Yanke

“Headdress” (2015) by Tim Yanke.

Park West Gallery is proud to unveil brand new works from Birmingham artist Tim Yanke during its July exhibitions showcasing Detroit artists.

The second show in the gallery’s “Detroit’s Finest” series will showcase the abstract expressionistic artwork of Yanke from July 12-26 at its Southfield, Michigan location.

Yanke will appear during an opening reception on July 12 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. The public is invited to attend and are encouraged to RSVP.

One of the largest collections of Yanke’s works will be on display during his first-ever solo exhibition with Park West Gallery. Much of the art was created especially for the exhibition, giving collectors an opportunity to view Yanke artwork that has never before been seen by the public.

“To go ahead and have a solo show like this eight miles from where I grew up, was born and where I spent my life, it all comes around, it seems like one complete circle,” he says.

Yanke, the youngest of six children, was encouraged to pursue art while growing up in Detroit. He completed studies at the University of North Texas in 1986, and had his first exhibition at the age of 23. He worked as a graphic designer until 2007 when he decided to pursue art full-time, setting up a studio in Birmingham, Michigan.

David Gorman, Park West Gallery Director, says with clear influences of Klee, de Kooning, and Twombly, Yanke has succeeded in creating identifiable abstract works that incorporate elements of Americana and Native American iconography.

“With art history as a platform and a fearless approach to creating, Yanke manages to offer a new form of art that is simultaneously classic and innovative,” Gorman says.

Tim Yanke

“Dragonfly” (2014) by Tim Yanke.

Gallery attendees will see one of the most extensive Yanke collections ever shown in one venue, including some of the largest scale paintings he has created. Collectors can expect experimental works as well as Yanke’s iconic imagery, such as his dragonflies, headdresses and flag-themed “Yanke Doodles.”

“It seems like traditional paintings are always painted in their traditional colors,” Yanke says. “The Impressionists didn’t think that way – the Impressionists departed from traditional painting, and after centuries of painting they decided to start painting from within, and those colors are within all of us.”

Yanke enjoys using his talents to give back to charitable causes. For instance, he has donated “Yanke Doodle” artwork to over a dozen participants with Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County, and has assisted in raising funds for the Oakland Livingston Human Service Agency.

Park West artist Tim Yanke Habitat for Humanity

Yanke presents a “Yanke Doodle” to a Habitat for Humanity homeowner.

Yanke has the honor of being the official artist for the 2015 Amelia Island Jazz Festival in Florida. His largest work hangs in the luxurious Henry Autograph Collection hotel in Dearborn, Michigan.

Yanke’s exhibition is the second of three shows featuring Park West Detroit artists. His show was preceded by Marcus Glenn on June 28, and is followed by Dominic Pangborn on July 26.

Admission is complimentary to the public. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. For more information or to RSVP for the opening, call 248-354-2343 or visit www.parkwestgallery.com.

Marc Chagall: Points of Interest

Marc Chagall

Happy birthday to Marc Chagall! The artist, born July 7, 1887, is credited as being a pioneer of modern art with a style that borrowed from fauvism, expressionism and cubism, but cannot be pigeonholed into one category.

His dreamy works, whether of village life or Jewish rituals, continue to be the subject of study. He worked in everything from painting and drawing to mosaic, sculpture and lithography, his innovations in the latter setting new standards for fine art graphic works. In honor of the great artist’s birthday, we offer some facts you might find surprising about Chagall.

 Chagall measured his work against nature

Chagall is said to have judged the quality of his art by comparing it to “God-made” objects. He would hold up objects like a rock, tree branch or flower to his painting. In his words: “If the painting stands up beside a thing man cannot make, the painting is authentic. If there’s a clash between the two, it’s bad art.”

 

Picasso’s praise, Chagall’s jokes

chagall

pable_picasso_bw

An article from the Smithsonian tells us that Chagall and Pablo Picasso were friends and rivals. Picasso praised Chagall, saying: “I don’t know where he gets those images. . .He must have an angel in his head.” Meanwhile, Chagall is said to have made the joke: “What a genius, that Picasso…It’s a pity he doesn’t paint.”

The same article tells us that Chagall was often elusive, telling people “no” or “I don’t know” if they asked if he was the famous painter Marc Chagall.

Chagall narrowly escaped Nazi-occupied France

Chagall and his family didn’t initially flee France under Nazi Germany occupation, unaware that laws were being passed mandating the forced transfer of Jewish citizens to concentration camps. When they finally decided to escape, they were unable to afford passage to New York. Thankfully, the Chagalls were among the 2,000 artists and intellectuals who fled to the U.S. with the help of American journalist Varian Fry, who risked his life to run a smuggling operation.

His “La Bible” series took 25 years to complete

Marc Chagall

Chagall was commissioned by Ambroise Vollard to create illustrations based on the Bible in 1931. He decided to use the mediums of etching and engraving, creating 65 etchings from 1931 to 1939. However, Vollard’s death and the war spreading across Europe halted the project. In 1952, he resumed the project, creating 40 additional plates to complete the series in 1956. This is considered to be one of his most ambitious and important undertakings.

Chagall didn’t learn lithography until the age of 63

Marc Chagall

Chagall is credited with creating some of the most masterful works of color lithography from any artist, but he didn’t experiment with the medium until 1950 at the age of 63, two years after returning to France. Although a famous and talented artist, Chagall worked hard to master the printmaking medium, resulting in such works as his “Daphnis and Chloe” series.

Chagall was dedicated to the lithographic process and the layered use of color, causing his printmaker, Charles Sorlier, to remark: “It is in this way, to the surprise of certain publishers, that a plate begun in six colors can comprise twenty-five in its definitive version.”

Chagall’s lithography teacher became a lifelong friend

Chagall studied lithography under Sorlier, who entered Fernand Mourlot’s workshop in 1948. Sorlier worked with artists such as Henri Matisse, Picasso and Fernand Leger, but his relationship with Chagall was the most significant. They became great friends, so much so that Sorlier was one of the last people to visit Chagall before his death in 1985.

His painting of the Paris Opera ceiling was controversial

Chagall

At the age of 77, Chagall was commissioned to paint the ceiling of the Paris Opera. His critics argued that a modern artist, let alone a Russian Jewish artist, shouldn’t be the one to paint a French national monument. Despite this, he completed the work in a year, using a 2,400-square-foot canvas and 440 pounds of paint.