Skip to content

When Art Danced with Music: Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes, 1909-1929….

July 31, 2013
Léon Bakst, Russian, 1866–1924, Costume design for Vaslav Nijinsky as the Faun from The Afternoon of a Faun, 1912, graphite, tempera, and gold paint on paper, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT, The Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Sumner Collection Fund

Léon Bakst, Russian, 1866–1924, Costume design for Vaslav Nijinsky as the Faun from The Afternoon of a Faun, 1912, graphite, tempera, and gold paint on paper, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT, The Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Sumner Collection Fund

The Ballets Russes—the most innovative dance company of the 20th century—propelled the performing arts to new heights through groundbreaking collaborations between artists, composers, choreographers, dancers, and fashion designers, with such familiar names as Picasso, Stravinsky, Balanchine, Nijinsky, and Chanel, among many others. On view from May 12 through September 2, 2013, at the National Gallery of Art, Washington—the sole US venue—Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes, 1909–1929: When Art Danced with Music showcases some 135 original costumes, set designs, paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings, photographs, posters, and film clips in a theatrical multimedia installation in the East Building.

Mikhail Larionov, Russian, 1881–1964, Costume for the Buffoon's Wife from The Tale of the Buffoon, 1921, cane stiffened felt and cotton, V&A, London © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Mikhail Larionov, Russian, 1881–1964, Costume for the Buffoon’s Wife from The Tale of the Buffoon, 1921, cane stiffened felt and cotton, V&A, London © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

On view for the first time in a museum in the United States are the largest objects ever exhibited inside the Gallery: Natalia Goncharova’s backdrop for The Firebird (1926), measuring 51.5 feet wide by 33.5 feet tall, and the front curtain for The Blue Train (1924), 38.5 feet wide by 34 feet tall, designed by Pablo Picasso and painted by Prince Alexander Schervashidze, Diaghilev’s principal set designer. Russian impresario Serge Diaghilev (1872–1929) founded the Ballets Russes in Paris in 1909.

Pablo Picasso, Spanish, 1881–1973, Costume for the Chinese Conjuror from Parade, c. 1917, silk satin fabric with silver tissue and black thread, cotton hat with woolen pigtail, V&A, London © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Pablo Picasso, Spanish, 1881–1973, Costume for the Chinese Conjuror from Parade, c. 1917, silk satin fabric with silver tissue and black thread, cotton hat with woolen pigtail, V&A, London © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

“This landmark exhibition celebrates one of the most dazzling cultural enterprises of the 20th century,” said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art. “These historic collaborations initiated by Diaghilev revolutionized the art of ballet. We are very grateful to lenders from around the world, particularly the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and to the sponsors and supporters who have made it possible for the Gallery to present this exhibition.”

Sonia Delaunay, French, 1885–1979, Costume for title role from Cleopatra, 1918, silk, sequins, mirror, and beads, wool yarn, metallic thread braid, lamé, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Costume Council Fund © Pracusa 2012003; Digital Image © 2013 Museum Associates / LACMA / Licensed by Art Resource, NY

Sonia Delaunay, French, 1885–1979, Costume for title role from Cleopatra, 1918, silk, sequins, mirror, and beads, wool yarn, metallic thread braid, lamé, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Costume Council Fund © Pracusa 2012003; Digital Image © 2013 Museum Associates / LACMA / Licensed by Art Resource, NY

The exhibition has been adapted from Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes, 1909–1929, conceived by and first shown at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in 2010. In Washington, the exhibition includes some 80 works from the V&A’s renowned collection of dance artifacts, as well as some 50 objects not seen in London, on loan from 20 museums and private collections, among them the Dansmuseet in Sweden and the National Gallery of Australia.

Léon Bakst, Russian, 1866–1924, Costume for a Brigand from Daphnis and Chloe, 1912, wool, cotton, and paint, V&A, London © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Léon Bakst, Russian, 1866–1924, Costume for a Brigand from Daphnis and Chloe, 1912, wool, cotton, and paint, V&A, London © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The National Gallery of Art and its Sculpture Garden are at all times free to the public. They are located on the National Mall between 3rd and 9th Streets at Constitution Avenue NW, and are open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The Gallery is closed on December 25 and January 1. With the exception of the atrium and library, the galleries in the East Building will be closing gradually beginning in July 2013 and will remain closed for approximately three years for Master Facilities Plan and renovations. For specific updates on gallery closings, visit www.nga.gov/renovation.

Eugène Druet, French, 1868–1917, Vaslav Nijinsky in Siamese Dance from The Orientals, 1910, gelatin silver print, Lent by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005

Eugène Druet, French, 1868–1917, Vaslav Nijinsky in Siamese Dance from The Orientals, 1910, gelatin silver print, Lent by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005

For information call (202) 737-4215 or the Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD) at (202) 842-6176, or visit the Gallery’s Web site at www.nga.gov. Follow the Gallery on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NationalGalleryofArt and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ngadc.

Advertisements

From → Ballet, Dance History

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: