Sunday, May 20, 2012

Japanese Prints, Early 19th Century

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Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849)

A wonderfully delicate study using light washes showing a Japanese carrot, mushrooms, a Japanese cucumber ( which have knobbles or spikes as opposed to our smooth-skinned varieties ), aubergines and long beans ( possibly yardlong beans ).  [Source]

Seated Courtesan 
Artist: Eishi
Date: ca.1795
Description: Akashi of the Teahouse, Seigyokuya.

The Courtesan 
Artist:  Eizan 
Date:  ca.1820s 
Description: Study of the courtesan, Shitome, of the
Matsukawa-ya Tea-house under Cherry Blossom.

Artist: Eisho
Date: ca.1790s
Description: Study of promenading oiran.

Artist: Eizan
Date: ca.1820s
Description: Study of the courtesan, Takashino, of the house of Akatsuru-ya

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ballets Russes: Program for "Le Tricorne" by Picasso

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Picasso's Chinese Conjurer from the Ballet "Parade"


Between 1917 and 1962, Pablo Picasso was involved in creating the designs for nine ballets for the Ballets Russes, including ParadePulcinella and L’Après-midi d’un Faune, in collaboration with such artists as Jean Cocteau, Erik Satie, Igor Stravinsky, Claude Debussy, Léonide Massine and Vaslav Nijinsky.  Le Tricorne dates from 1919.

Picasso, a native of Andalusia, created the sets and costumes for the very Spanish ballet, Le Tricorne (The Three-Cornered Hat).  It is a warm and humourous story of a miller’s wife, her jealous husband and a senile magistrate by whom she is pursued. 

Pablo PICASSO | Costume designs for Le Tricorne

Le Tricorne  (The Three-cornered Hat)

Ballet in One Act
Original producer:  Les Ballets Russes de Serge Diaghilev
Costume design: Pablo Picasso
Scenery design: Pablo Picasso
Music: Manuel de Falla
Choreography: Léonide Massine
Libretto: Gregorio Martínez Sierra, after a novella by Pedro Alarcón
Main characters: The Miller, the Miller’s Wife, the Corregidor (Chief Magistrate), the Corregidor’s Wife, the Dandy, Alguacile (Deputy)

This ballet is a love story set in the eighteenth century in a small Spanish village, where a miller and his wife, although very much in love, flirt with passers-by in order to test each other’s affection. 

One of these passers-by is the Corregidor, governor of the province, who is travelling with his entourage. Attracted by the miller’s wife, he begins to court her.  Although she initially leads him on, once her husband returns, she makes fun of him as being old and ridiculous.  The angry Corregidor leaves, promising revenge on the couple for this humiliation.

He returns with his officers, who arrest the miller.  After they have left, the Corregidor attempts to grab the miller’s wife, who runs away.  Although he chases after her, she eludes him, trips him into a stream and runs off, frightened. 

Drenched, the Corregidor enters the mill, undresses and hangs his clothes out to dry before retiring to the miller’s bed for a nap.  The miller returns and, seeing the Corregidor’s clothes, steals them, replacing them with his own and a note. The Corregidor is forced to leave in the miller’s clothes to the taunts of the villagers.

Ballets Russes: Golden Age

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Léon Bakst's Narcisse (1911) on Ballets Russes official program

The Ballets Russes (The Russian Ballets) was a travelling Russian ballet company which operated between 1909 and 1929 under the direction of Sergei Diaghilev. (The company performed mainly in Paris until Diaghilev's premature death in 1929.)  It is regarded as one of the greatest dance companies of the 20th century/eva and has greatly influenced every facet of art.  

Ballets Russes was a primal yell during the Belle Epoque and an amalgamation of the 1910s artistic creme de la creme, featuring the likes of Stravinsky, Pavlova and Être - just to name a few.  Choreographers, dancers, composers and costume designers alike collaborated on a piece together instead of remaining separate entities, lending to the lush and distinct aesthetic of productions. The performances staged by this company shunned orthodoxy as the choreography was expressive and unrestricted by the technicality of classical ballet.

~ Felix Curds

Costume Design for a Chinese Conjurer in the Ballet, Parade, by Pablo Picasso, 1917
(From "Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes, 1909-1929")

Pablo Picasso became an integral member of the Ballets Russes during the War. 


Dancing into Glory
The Golden Age of the Ballets Russes

Illustrations of some of Leon Bakst's designs for the Ballets Russes.
Ballets Russes program, with design for Nijinsky in La Peri by Leon Bakst, 1912

Exhibition at Sotheby's Galerie Charpentier
76, Rue Du Faubourg Saint-Honorè
75008 Paris France

Artwork from one of the most significant artistic and cultural movements of the twentieth century was on view at the Wadsworth Atheneum in the exhibition entitled, The Ballets Russes: Celebrating the Centennial (2009). 

“What made the Ballets Russes so novel and exciting was the combination of its extravagantly beautiful productions and thrilling dancing,” said exhibition curator, Eric Zafran.


Poster for the Ballets Russes, 
featuring illustration by Valentin Serov of Anna Pavlova in Chopiniana, 
Théatre du Châtelet, Paris, 1909. 


The Victoria and Albert Museum’s major autumn exhibition, "Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes, 1909–1929", explored the world of the influential artistic director Serge Diaghilev and the most exciting dance company of the 20th century.

Diaghilev combined dance, music and art in bold ways to create ‘total theatre’. A consummate collaborator, he worked with Stravinsky, Chanel, Picasso, Matisse and Nijinsky.

De Chirico's sketch for Le Bal costume

"Le Bal," 1929
Scene design by Giorgio di Chirico
Harvard Theatre Collection

Treasures on show included Picasso’s huge front cloth for Le Train Bleu, as well as original costumes and set designs, props and posters by artists and designers like Léon Bakst, Georges Braque, Jean Cocteau and Natalia Goncharova. 

Stage backcloth for the Wedding Scene in The Firebird, 
After Natalia Goncharova, 1926.

These told 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.

The gallery included a rich array of costumes designed by Bakst and tell the story of the Ballets Russes up to the outbreak of War in 1914. 

Leon Bakst design for a cap for the Bluebird 'The Sleeping Princess' (1921)
Costume for Prince Charming 
from The Sleeping Princess, designed by Léon Bakst, 1921.

The exhibition looked at how the Ballets Russes survived during the War having been cut off from their roots in Russia with little access to the cities they performed in before 1914.

The final gallery presented Diaghilev and his company in the 1920s - a period when he had achieved great status in European culture. The works of artists, authors and musicians he knew or was associated with were shown – including manuscripts by Joyce, Proust and Eliot. 

Léon Bakst set design for 'Scheherazade' (1910)

There was a large selection of costumes in this gallery, from the exotic – Léon Bakst’s The Sleeping Princess and Henri Matisse’s Le Chant du rossignol, and the wacky – Mikhail Larionov’s Chout and Giorgio de Chirico’s Le Bal, and the chic – Coco Chanel’s bathing costumes for Le Train Bleu, Georges Braque’s Zephyr and Flore and Marie Laurencin’s Les Biches.
Costume for a Negro Lackey,
(as programmes of the time referred to the character) 
from "The Sleeping Princess," designed by Léon Bakst, 1921. 

Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes redefined ballet.  A groundbreaking entrepreneur and artist, Diaghilev’s dedication to pushing boundaries and collaborating with the best designers, choreographers and artists of his time left an inspiring legacy.

Portrait of Sergei Diaghilev by Valentin Serov (1904) 

A wonderful celebration of the impresario of the century who not only knew Stravinsky, Picasso, Matisse, Cocteau, Chanel and others but knew just what he wanted out of each of them.  ~  Burgess & Reyes

Japanese Woodblock Prints, Early 20th Century

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From Ming's Asian Gallery:

The Ukiyo-E, or woodblock print, was an art form created in the mid-17th century depicting the world of the rising, wealthy merchant class of Japan. Devoid of any political power, emphasis was placed on luxury, extravagant indulgences and pleasure. This culture became known as the “Floating World”, where one existed as if in a dream.

White Peony, circa 1909
By Sekka (Momoyogusa)

Artists captured the beauty of strolling courtesans, the vibrancy of the Kabuki theater dramas, legends and heroes of the samurai, and the peace and tranquility of the Japanese landscape. Many of these images have been lost through time, war, fire earthquake. The few that have survived represent a time of intrigue and passion, a time that truly was “just for the moment.”

Hashiguchi Goyo, Woman Combing Her Hair, March 1920, woodblock print on paper, 17 9/16” x 12 7/8”, The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

Hashiguchi Goyo, beloved and respected as one of Japan’s greatest shin hanga, or new woodblock print artists, had a brief career. He only produced 14 different prints before his untimely death in 1921. Of these, eight were images of beautiful women. They highlighted the distinctly 1920s look and feel of Goyo’s art. (Source: The Walters Art Museum)

This bust portrait depicts one of Goyo's favorite models, Tomi, wearing a summer kimono tied simply with a red sash. She tilts her head slightly downward and holds her hair away from her face while she pulls a comb through her exceedingly long tresses. This impression is particularly remarkable for the very fine printing of her hair.

This image is not only one of the most important bijin prints of the shin hanga genre; it transcends its era and stands out as an iconic work among Japanese woodblock prints of any period. (Source)

Watanabe Ikuharu (1895-1975)
Competing Beauties in the Showa Era: December [Lunar Calendar], Snow, Sky

Shimura Tatsumi (1907-1980)
Five Figures of Modern Beauties

Kitano Tsunetomi, 1880-1947
Seasons of the Pleasure Quarters: no. 3, Horie in Summer, Twilight
(A seated beauty wearing a yukata decorated with blue morning glories.)

Tipsy, 1930
By Kobayakawa Kiyoshi (1889-1948)
Color Woodblock Print

In the early 20th century, Japan pursued first-class-nation status in the international arena. As the country dove headfirst into modernization and Westernization, Japanese intellectuals and politicians pushed to elevate the status of women, and, at the same time, maximize national profit and stimulate economic growth.

Expression of Eyes by Kobayakawa Kiyoshi, 1931

Many girls’ schools serving middle- to upper-class families, inspired by Christian and Confucian ideals and teachings, adopted the principle “good wife, wise mother (Ryösai Kenbo).” Education for females focused on good housekeeping, which included such tasks as caring for husbands and nourishing and educating children who would one day be important national assets.

Western Style Dancing by Kobayakawa Kiyoshi, 1934 (Source)

The lifestyles of such schoolgirls and “good wife, wise mother” figures became an idealized image of femininity to which all women were encouraged to aspire. However, as time passed, some women, especially those educated in the new school system, began to be aware of the value of self-achievement and individualism. “Modern girls” (moga) started to appear in public—at cafés and on the street.

A selection of prints depicting images of modern femininity from the first part of the 20th century offer a rare opportunity to see the world-renowned work Tipsy, which from 2004 to 2008 traveled to venues across the United States, Japan, and Australia as part of the popular exhibition Taishö Chic: Japanese Modernity, Nostalgia and Deco. The subject of Tipsy is dressed in the latest contemporary Western fashion. She wears a ring and watch, has bobbed-hair and heavy make-up, and smokes a cigarette, epitomizing the modern woman who might have resisted and questioned the role of “good wife, wise mother.”

~ Sawako Takemura Chang, Assistant Curator of Japanese Art & Robert F. Lange Foundation Digital Imaging Manager

Paper Fish
Japanese, 20th century
Ukiyo-e woodblock-print, ink and colors on paper

Boy's Day Festival (Tango-no-Sekku), 5th day of the 5th moon. Figuring prominently in the boys' celebration are sumarai warrior dolls, along with carp streamers flown outside in gardens and backyards that symbolize the strength and determination of the carp in Japanese folklore.

Balance between Modernity and Nostalgia.