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Chagall Flies in ’Masters’ as De Kooning Colors: N.Y. Galleries

"Tete de femme au chapeau" by Pablo Picasso is part of "Modern Masters" on show at Hammer Galleries through July 29. Source: Hammer Galleries via Bloomberg

May 24 (Bloomberg) -- From the day Marc Chagall met his future wife, “they ceased to walk on the ground,” Sidney Alexander wrote in his biography of the artist. “Their life together was one long nuptial flight.”

Married in 1915, they are still aloft, floating above a French town in the lyrical “Saint-Paul dans la nuit bleue,” painted in 1969, 25 years after her death. The work was on view at the Hammer Galleries’ “Modern Masters” show until a buyer grabbed it last week.

Gallery president and director Howard Shaw, who doesn’t like a bare spot on his walls, has already added another Chagall to the show: “Le quai a Paris,” which dates from the same period. Other recent additions include “Tete de femme au chapeau” (1962) by Picasso, and two Legers.

They join cataloged works by Chagall, Picasso and Leger, as well as Matisse and a striking portrait by Modigliani, his 1919 “Jeune fille assise, les cheveux denoues (Jeune fille en bleu),” which depicts a blue-eyed girl with red hair. It was painted not long before Modigliani’s death.

Prices range from a few hundred thousand dollars to more than $20 million. “Modern Masters” is at 475 Park Ave., at 58th St. through July 29. Information: +1-212-644-4400; http://www.hammergalleries.com/html/home.asp

Fashion Photographs

Rita Hayworth was behind Georges Dambier’s career launch when the photographer captured her at Le Jimmy’s nightclub in Paris and swapped the pictures for a permanent job at France Dimanche.

Dambier soon shifted to fashion. He was hired by Helene Lazareff, director of Elle magazine, and started working with well-known models such as Suzy Parker, Bettina and Dorian Leigh. He brought a change to fashion photography by taking models out of the studio and shooting them in the open air.

Bonni Benrubi Gallery has mounted never-before-shown images of restored color negatives from the 1950s. In a 1953 shot, Parker poses with a hat as brilliantly red as the tulips she holds.

“What’s amazing about them is the very authentic old color,” said Rachel Smith, director of the gallery. “It’s a different kind of color, and you don’t get that with contemporary photography.”

Dambier also boasts distinctive black-and-white images, such as an elegantly dressed Fiona Campbell-Walter holding a horse by the muzzle as if she were about to kiss it.

Prices range between $1,800 and $5,000. “Who’s That Girl? Georges Dambier: Fashioning the Fifties” is at 41 E. 57th St. through May 27. Information: +1-212-888-6007; http://www.bonnibenrubi.com/index.html

De Kooning

Willem de Kooning drowns you in color at Manhattan’s Pace Gallery, where “The Figure: Movement and Gesture” presents 12 paintings made by the Dutch artist from the late 1960s to the late 1970s.

After the figurative elements of his “Women” series a decade earlier, here is a shift toward abstraction, with stretched twisted human forms agitating the canvas.

“The figure is nothing unless you twist it around like a strange miracle,” de Kooning once said.

In “Two Figures III,” a ballerina almost disappears in a blend with orange, reds and greens. The multicolored “Amityville” leaves feet and hands obscured.

Charcoal, ink and pencil drawings are also on view, as well as three bronze sculptures. De Kooning started three-dimensional work in Rome after an accidental encounter with a friend who owned a foundry.

A de Kooning retrospective featuring more than 200 works will open on Sept. 18 at the Museum of Modern Art.

All works at Pace are on loan from private collections and not for sale. “Willem de Kooning: The Figure: Movement and Gesture” is at 32 E. 57th St. through July 29. Information: +1-212-421-8987; http://thepacegallery.com/

(Lili Rosboch writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are her own.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Lili Rosboch in New York erosboch2@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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