Monday, January 25, 2010

Ballets Russes Costumes

Leon Bakst design for the Chief Eunuch 'Schéhérazade' (1910, 1930s)

I know the Ballets Russes is one of those subjects on which I could - perhaps - go on and on (and on) ... about.

But this is not going to be a yak yak yak post - just a look and have your senses pleasured aesthetically one.

As people know, the costumes and sets of the Diaghilev era of the Ballets Russes had a huge influence on fashion and interior design at the beginning of the C19. Among other things, it was the exoticism of the bold vibrant colours, often simplified geometric shapes and oriental motifs - in such stark contrast with what had gone immediately before.

Léon Bakst set design for 'Scheherazade' (1910)

This is just a very small selection from the astonishing array offered up by that extraordinary Russian enterprise.

I've tried where possible to introduce each image of an original costume with a photograph of the dancer who created the associated role. Usually, I've used an image taken at the time of the creation of the ballet concerned.

1 'Le Dieu Bleu' (1912)

Vaslav Nijinsky in 'Le Dieu Bleu' (1912)

Leon Bakst design for 'Le Dieu Bleu' Costume (1912)

Tamara Karsavina in 'Le Dieu Bleu' (1912)

2 'Le Festin' (1909)

Vaslav Nijinsky in 'Le Festin' (Variously named. 1909)

Leon Bakst design for 'Le Festin' (Variously named. 1909)

3 'Le Pavillion d'Armide' (1912)

Anna Pavlova and Vaslav Nijinsky as Armida and her slave, 'Le Pavillion d'Armide' (1907)

Alexandre Benois design for a musician, 'Le Pavillion d'Armide' (1907)

4 'Daphnis and Chloe' (1912)

Leon Bakst design for a brigand 'Daphnis and Chloë' (1912)

5 'Petroushka' (1913)

Vaslav Nijinsky as Petrushka in 'Petrushka' c.1913

Alexandre Benois design for Petrushka in 'Petrushka' c.1911

6 'Sadko' (1916)

Natalia Gontcharova design for a Sea Princess in Adolph Bolm's 'Sadko' (1916) - Front

Natalia Gontcharova design for a Sea Princess in Adolph Bolm's 'Sadko' (1916) - Back

7 'Le Sacre du Printemps' (1913)

Nicholas Roerich design for Vaslav Nijinsky's 'Le Sacre du Printemps' (1913)

8 Unknown


9 'Chout' (1921)

Mikhail Larionov design for the Buffoon's Wife in 'Chout' (1921)

10 'The Sleeping Princess' (1921)

Leon Bakst design for a cap for the Bluebird 'The Sleeping Princess' (1921)

Leon Bakst design for the Bluebird 'The Sleeping Princess' (1921)

After the 'Tales of Beatrix Potter' post, I'm now quiet unsure how just far I can go with you guys - though much further than I'd originally imagined!

So ... ?


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Post For Everyone?

This dance footage is so charming - in that gentle way of old-fashioned English children's storybooks - that I've found it impossible not to post and share it!

As you may well know, Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) ...

Beatrix Potter's House 'The Lakes', Sawrey, Hilltop, Lake District

The Lakes District, in North West England

... self-published 'The Tale of Peter Rabbit' in 1901, producing both the text and illustrations.

This was followed by F. Warne & Co publishing 'The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin' in 1903.

And so on ... and so on .

In 1971, 'The Tales of Beatrix Potter' were choreographed by Sir Frederick Ashton for the Royal Ballet. And, as you'd expect, it's constructed of vignettes involving many of the characters that appear in the books, such as ...

Peter Rabbit

Mr. Jeremy Fisher

Mrs Tittlemouse

By far my most favourite characters are the two naughty rodents in 'The Tale of Two Bad Mice' (1904) - maybe it's their very naughtiness I like best. In fact I'm sure that's it!

After arriving at the house ...

... our little friends do some reasonably conventional dancing round the living room ...

... which I do this myself, even these days, so it must be normal, yes?

Spotting the table set with food ...

... the Mouses naturally tuck in ...

It is then that the particular mayhem of this Tale seems to emerge - stimulated perhaps by some rather unconventional table manners ...

Ms Mouse seems initially unmoved by hubby's behaviour ...

... but after knocking the meal onto the floor ...

... she immediately understood the degree of fun that could be extracted from semi-orchestrated chaos, and happily began putting some of her own ideas into practice ...

... ideas appreciated by Mr M ...

As it does, plate smashing quickly turns to sword fighting with fire-irons ...

... which leads - as night does day - to broken plate pulverising ...

Such joys, of course, can only be concluded by table dancing, using remaining plates as castanets ...

But there's more ...

Totally captivating ... and the music so well realises the narrative.

A delight if ever there was one!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Anna Pavlova, the Boyd Art Dynasty and Me - Tenuous Family Connections

Jug with Grapes 1915

Around 1900, my maternal grandfather bought four adjacent plots of land in the Melbourne suburb of Murrumbeena - one for his new home, one for a tennis court, one to graize a cow on ... and the last block he sold to potter Merric Boyd (1888-1959), who was known in the early C20 as 'The King of Australian Potters' ...

Merric Boyd in his Pottery at 'Open Country' 1914

'Open Country' - The Boyd Family Home and Pottery at Murrumbeena c1913

... and who was to become the patriarch of an artistic family dynasty - of painters (David, Penleigh and most famously Arthur, among others) and writers, such as Martin Boyd whose four-part series - including 'The Cardboard Crown' (1952) and 'An Outbreak of Love' (1957) - explored cross-cultural issues of the Anglo-Australian experience).

This sale of land lead to a long but tenuous connection for our family with the Boyds.

Merric Boyd's pottery combined the organic natural fluid forms of the Art Nouveau with the hand-made aesthetic of the English Arts and Crafts Movement, all within an Australian idiom and iconography ...

Pot, 1921

Vase with eucalypt, 1925

Pot with windswept branches, 1925

Vase with Apples, 1931

Jug with tree trunk handle, 1926

Form, 1931

Pot with koala, 1932

Lamp, 1931

Teapot, 1947

The joy of this pottery is, in part, its rough-hewn quality - as opposite to the refined finish aimed for in fine porcelain.

Now, the first incident in this Boyd connection that I know of concerned Anna Pavlova - quite a good start for a long-term relationship!

My mother tells of her very great excitement as a child when, in 1929, she and her sisters saw the legendary dancer arriving at the Boyd's house for a portrait sitting - a Wedgwood-like vase frieze ...

Pavlova toured Australia in 1926 and then again in 1929 ...

Anna Pavlova, Sydney, 1929

The next incident - in the early 1930s - occurred when Merric asked my mother to sit for him, producing one of his few earthenware portraits in the round ...

... another, ten years earlier, being that of his son Arthur ...

Portrait of Arthur Boyd aged three, 1923

The Boyds were notoriously eccentric - so there were other (many) more simply observed incidents, including removal of the internal roof supports to create an extra room (with rather predictably disastrous results) and setting much of the back of the property alight with over zealous kiln firing.

In the early 1940's, my mother briefly and unsatisfactorily dated Arthur - certainly another incident!

Arthur Boyd, 1945

The final-ish incident occurred when my parents married and Merric pottered them this beautiful inscribed vase as a wedding present ...

The only Boyd incidents these days ... are seeing their now highly priced art work in auctions catalogues!