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Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes, 1909-1929


25 September 2010 - 9 January 2011 Victoria & Albert Museum, London


"Diaghilev's dramatic performances transformed dance, reawakening interest in ballet across Europe and America. Celebrating the company's key period of activity, this major exhibition reveals Diaghilev's enduring  influence on 20th-century art, design and fashion and includes more than 300 objects including giant theatre cloths, original costumes, set designs, props and posters by artists and designers including Léon Bakst, Georges Braque and Natalia Goncharova. These tell the story of a company which began in the social and political upheaval of pre-Revolutionary Russia and went on to cause a sensation with exotic performances that had never been seen before". (http://www.vam.ac.uk/collections)

Some great cubist costumes designed by Picasso on show at that this large exhibition. Also stage designs by Natalia Goncharova, wife of Mikhail Larionov, who both developed Rayonnist art in pre-revolutionary Russia. There are also lots of interesting background stories featuring Igor Stravinsky, and Vaslav Nijinsky with whom Diaghilev had a doomed relationship.


I left the exhibition with the impression that Diaghilev was very determined, capable, and inspiring, although not a particularly nice man. Nijinsky married a fellow dancer on his first tour abroad without Diaghilev who otherwise kept him a virtual prisoner (exhibition curators feel the need to detail the personal stuff these days). He also surrounded himself with some of the most talented artists of the era.

Well worth seeing but go early as it'll take a good 90 minutes to browse leisurely and V&A staff are extremely keen to leave work on time.
Posters are £3.50 - bargain!

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