Art and The Ballets Russes – part one

Nijinsky in "Afternoon of a Faun" by Georges Barbier (LEO Design)

Georges Barbier: Vaslav Nijinsky in “Afternoon of a Faun” (1913)

Yesterday, in Washington D.C., I had the great fortune to see a wonderful exhibit at the National Gallery:  “Diaghilev & The Ballets Russes, 1909-1929: When Art Danced with Music.”

Sergei Pavlovich Diaghilev (1872-1929) sampled many fields—law, music, art, publishing, art curation—before he discovered his great talent and calling: Artistic Impresario and Stage Producer.  He founded, directed, and promoted The Ballets Russes, building it into one of the great performing corps of the Twentieth Century.  The company had a profound effect on the arts world, the fashions of the times, and even the course (and, perhaps, survival) of 20th Century ballet.  Traveling all over the world, the company brought its unique interpretation of the art form—and its mind-blowing innovation—to hungry audiences in Europe, North America, and South America.

While Diaghilev began his company in Tsarist Russia, at the height of The Art Nouveau period, he was soon forced to leave the country as finances, political turmoil, and anti-Semitism made that country inhospitable.  He also left Art Nouveau behind as he pushed artistic boundaries into Cubism, Art Deco, and Modernism.  He was quite ahead of the curve.

More in days to come.