MA MUSEUM CULTURES: Exhibition Analysis
‘Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballet Russes 1909-1929’, Victoria & Albert Museum.
This is a major retrospective of Diaghilev and his work with the Ballet Russes. It explores the twenty years of Diaghilev's rule - his domination and transformation of a previously minor art form to the ground-breaking 'world of theatre' he envisaged and created.
On display are some of the costumes, set designs, music and choreography of Diaghilev's ballets and early operas. These productions featured personalities such as Nijinsky, Stravinsky and Picasso, who were part of the collaborative process of the Ballet Russes. We journey from the Russian folk influence of the earlier ballets, (which fed the West's desire for all things Russian) and Léon Bakst's exotic art nouveau designs, to the shock of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, the cubism of Picasso's creations for Parade and finally to Coco Chanel's more contemporary and practical costumes.
According to the Press Release the exhibition aims to 'celebrate his enduring influence on 20th–century art and design and will include more than 300 objects from the V&A’s own unrivalled collection....' Mark Jones, Director of the V&A also states: 'Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes redefined ballet. Our exhibition will tell the story of this ground-breaking 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.'
The audience is led through six sections (spread out over three rooms), primarily chronologically ordered but with some thematic sections along the way.
The first room introduces the historical setting of the Russian Revolution, and the ballet-world pre-Diaghilev and then moves on to the first seasons of the Ballet Russes. There is also a separate section at the back of this room dedicated to Vaslav Nijinsky. Room two explores the...