Los Angeles

“Rare Color Lithographs: Chagall, Braque, Clave, Renoir, Lautrec”

Edgardo Acosta Gallery

Among these prints some are rare because of their limited editions, others because of the quality of excellence. In the latter category, Chagall’s Bouquet a L’Oiseau, a scarlet ground left showing traces from the painter’s confident brush is graced by the profiles of a man and bird facing a white and blue bouquet. Chagall’s lyricism combines the deep familiarity of a folk song with the surprise of having it sung by a lark. How providential for our anxious generation to have in its midst this untrammeled joyous voice!

The prints by Braque and Dali are antithetical. The Frenchman’s almost Hellenic sense of design creates austere yet natural images; reality is idealized toward the simplicity in organic form. Two of Dali’s lithographs are supposed to have something to do with Don Quixote. Since there is a skinny figure of a man, perhaps the basic literary requirements are fulfilled. In addition, the surfaces are splattered with asterisks, abbreviated draped female figures and a chorus of unessential brush marks. Everything and every art movement seems to be getting into the act, but Dali’s olio is the kind that was made obsolete by television.

Enfante Jouant a la Balle a black lithograph by Renoir makes a kind of landscape out of the tumbling awkwardness characteristic of chubby little girls groping for their ball. Their hilly shapes and cascading motion invoke the amplitude of nature. Unlike the structural Renoir, Clave’s series of kings and playing cards employ heraldic designs for decorative purposes. These are more posters than the works of Lautrec because of their momentary brilliant and easily exhausted content. Toulouse-Lautrec’s La Tige au Moulin Rouge shows a snipe-nosed woman with a black bow in her hair. This bow is repeated in the moustache and cap of a jowly fellow and re-echoed in a distant figure’s cravat. Is it the person or the accent which separates men?

Rosalind G. Wholden