The Passionate Dance of the Avant-Garde

Tatiana Gubanova

Article: 
INTERNATIONAL PANORAMA
Magazine issue: 
#1 2006 (10)

Museum of Modern Art in Rovereto (Trento province, Italy) opened an exhibition titled ‘The Dance of the Avant-Garde" on December 16, displaying paintings, scenography and costumes from Degas to Picasso, from Matisse to Haring. Over 1,000 paintings, sculptures, graphic works and photographs created in the 20th century introduce the viewer to the magical union of dance and the visual arts, and to the wonderful century of real-life and fantastic images.

The organizers focused on the important changes of the times that concerned both the theatre, and the artistic achievements of great masters who implemented their new ideas on stage. At the beginning of the 20th century theatre served as a huge laboratory for artists such as Degas and Toulouse- Lautrec. It was a space in which to experiment, a place where extraordinary and often controversial artistic decisions were made. As a result, by the end of the 1920s there was not a single avant-garde movement that had not made a contribution to the theatre arts, and to the theory and practice of ballet and dance.

Leo BAKST. Salome. 1908
Leo BAKST. Salome. 1908
Costume sketch for Oscar Wilde’s play ‘Salome’. Paper, gouache, pencil, white. 46.5 by 29.9 cm. Tretyakov Gallery

A whole section is devoted to Sergei Diaghilev and his Russian ballet which completely changed the idea of the art of dance. The artists featured here are Matisse, Picasso, Bakst, Larionov and Goncharova, with whom the Russian impresario actively worked when creating costumes and decorations.

Natalia GONCHAROVA. Composition with Chimney Shafts. 1916–1917
Natalia GONCHAROVA. Composition with Chimney Shafts. 1916–1917
Sketch/variant of decorations for Igor Stravinsky’s ballet ‘The Wedding’. Paper mounted on cardboard, gouache, pencil. 56 by 78.8 cm. Tretyakov Gallery

The exhibition also focuses on the development of the theatre arts during the early post-Revolutionary years in Russia, and the desire to experiment which was most explicitly expressed on stage, giving rise to more and more new trends in the visual arts. Futurism, suprematism and constructivism were all "tested" on theatre productions by such Russian artists as Alexandra Ekster, El Lisitsky, Kazimir Malevich and Vladimir Tatlin.

The works of Schlemmer, Miro, Rauschenberg, Fontana and many others are displayed in the sector devoted to the main development trends of theatre arts of the second half of the 20th century.

"The Dance of the Avant-Garde" ends with a section devoted to fashion where Versace costumes for Maurice Bejart, Christian Lacroix's costumes for Bianca Lee and the experimental clothing articles by Yves Saint Laurent are of most interest.

Among the museums taking part in the exhibition, which is already proving to be the most significant event in the cultural life of Italy, are the Stockholm Dance Museum, the La Scala Theatre Museum, the Tretyakov Gallery, the Russian Museum, the Bakhrushin Theatre Museum, the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, and the Victoria and Albert Museum. It runs until May 7 2006.

Illustrations

Natalia GONCHAROVA. Spanish Costume. The 1910s
Natalia GONCHAROVA. Spanish Costume. The 1910s
Cream-laid paper, gouache, pencil. 49.2 by 30.8 cm. Tretyakov Gallery
Natalia GONCHAROVA. A Spaniard with Shawl. 1916
Natalia GONCHAROVA. A Spaniard with Shawl. 1916
Costume sketch for L. Myasin’s production of the ballet ‘Triana’ based on music by Isaac Albeniz. Watermarked paper, gouache, pencil. 65.8 by 44 cm. Tretyakov Gallery
Mikhail LARIONOV. The Forest. 1916
Mikhail LARIONOV. The Forest. 1916
Sketch of decorations for the “Baba Yaga” scene of L.F. Myasin’s production of the ballet ‘Russian Fairytales’ based on music by A.K. Lyadov. Paper mounted on cardboard, watercolour, pencil. 45.5 by 70 cm. Tretyakov Gallery
Mikhail LARIONOV. Ballerina. Late 1920s-early 1930s
Mikhail LARIONOV. Ballerina. Late 1920s-early 1930s
Yellow tinted paper, gouache. 51.4 by 34.5 cm. Tretyakov Gallery
Alexander GOLOVIN. Sketch of decorations for A. Koreshenko’s ballet “The Magic Mirror’. 1903
Alexander GOLOVIN. Sketch of decorations for A. Koreshenko’s ballet “The Magic Mirror’. 1903
Paper, watercolour, gouache, pencil. 66.5 by 82.6 cm
Mikhail LARIONOV. The Satyr. 1915–1916
Mikhail LARIONOV. The Satyr. 1915–1916
Costume sketch for the ballet ‘Russian Fairytales’ based on A.K. Lyadov’s music and produced by L.F. Myasin. The ‘Baba Yaga’ scene”. Cream-laid paper, watercolour, pencil, gouache. 59 by 44.5 cm. Tretyakov Gallery
Mikhail LARIONOV. Eblis and the Queen of Shemakhan’s Servant. 1914
Mikhail LARIONOV. Eblis and the Queen of Shemakhan’s Servant. 1914
Costume sketch for ‘The Golden Cockerel’. Cream-laid watermarked paper, watercolour, gouache, pencil. 48.5 by 31.8 cm. Tretyakov Gallery
Alexander BENOIS. Tapestry. 1907
Alexander BENOIS. Tapestry. 1907
Sketch of decorations for the ballet ‘Armida’s Pavilion’ based on music by N.N. Cherepnin. Coloured paper mounted on cardboard, gouache, ink, pencil. 59.3 by 68 cm. Tretyakov Gallery

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