Marc Chagall, L’Envolée magique, 1980

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L’Envolée magique, 1980 or “The Magic Flight,” belongs to an incredible series of large-scale lithographs by master artist Marc Chagall entitled Fourteen Large Lithographs of 1980. In 1980, publisher Aimé Might commissioned Chagall to make these lithographs, upon coming across some especially large lithostones.

Maeght’s request was very broad in nature and he failed to specify either specific size or theme. Accordingly, the subject matter was left completely to Chagall and although the artist was initially reticent, his desire to please Maeght compelled him to proceed.

Chagall soon became consumed by the project and ultimately exceeded the scope of Maeght’s request. In the process, the artist asked Charles Sorlier for the largest dimensions that his presses were capable of printing and went from there. In the end, the project encompassed 14 large, graceful and poetic lithographs, 13 of which were printed in vibrant pastel tones. One was printed in black only.

They are Chagall’s largest lithographs, and are each considered a masterpiece, inviting viewers into the enchanting world of Chagall. Together, each composition constitutes a complete summary of his most recognizable imagery—loving couples, floral bouquets, animals, floating figures and the familiar landscapes of Paris and Vitebsk, all presented in a monumental size.

In many ways, The Magic Flight is an incredibly autobiographical piece, with the magic flight being one that encompasses his life in a single image.
Here, he depicts himself at the center of the composition, presenting flowers to his first love, Bella. Though Bella passed away decades before, Chagall often incorporated her into his artworks, symbolizing his unwavering love and devotion. For this, The Magic Flight survives as an expression of romantic love and whim, both themes familiar to Chagall’s most iconic works.