Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Pas de deux, or trois, ou quatre...

Serge Diaghilev, c 1924

Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballet Russes 1909 - 1929 at the Victoria and Albert Museum  is one of those block-buster exhibitions that gets so much bad press where quantity and volume, rather than the quality of the items on display, appear to be the prevailing factors used in judging the merit the exhibition.  The V+A have scored some rare treats that offer a glimpse into a life which has been the centre of much controversy and arguably, one of the changing forces of art in the last century.   Diaghilev's influence across the all aspects of the contemporary art of his time and his reach across  art today can still be felt. Some absolute gems include  the earrings worn by Nijinsky, who became his lover and principle dancer.

Earrings worn by Vaslav Nijinsky as the Golden Slave in Schéhérazade
Designed by Léon Bakst 1910

Chanel designed costumes for le Train Bleu

Perhaps best known for the performance of Blue Train, for which Coco Chanel designed the costumes and Picasso the sets, Diaghilev's legacy still prevails, from  fashion collections to porcelain and interior design. There's an exuberance of orientalism.  He lived a lot of his life in hotels but had  a few very beautiful possessions, including precious items by Faberge and a carved table from the Winter Palace. His letters and correspondence are revealing, perhaps this is as close as we can ever come to knowing someone so elusive, whose life is revealed through his collaborations and his art as much as through what he left behind.

See this till January 9th 2011 at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

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