The Ballets Russes and the Art of Design
Publication Date: December 1, 2009
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The Ballets Russes was a phenomenon of the early twentieth century, permeating daily life wherever the company traveled and leaving a lasting impact on dance, theater, and the visual arts. Sergei Diaghilev, impresario from 1909 until his death in 1929, fused the most avant-garde, groundbreaking movements in dance, choreography, art, design, and costume into unique and stunning productions. The work was exciting, and always new, and it stretched the limits of the possible in art. The color, form, and material in costume and set design astonished audiences, transforming every corner of Western culture in the twentieth century.
Fashion and decor designers and visual artists in particular—including Coco Chanel, Natalia Goncharova, Mikhail Larionov, Léon Bakst, and Pablo Picasso—found inspiration in the Ballets Russes. Designers and artists moved past old boundaries and created costumes and set designs for these extravagant productions, bridging the gaps between tangible and abstract artistic genres.
The Ballets Russes and the Art of Design explores these revolutionary icons and ideas, illuminating Sergei Diaghilev's profound revitalization of the arts, which continues to influence us today. Ten essays by internationally recognized experts and 200 color and black-and-white illustrations—many from private collections and never-before-published—discuss a broad range of topics, including set and costume designs, graphic design and poster art, photographs and postcards, Diaghilev's presence in the media, and private and museum collections of Ballets Russes treasures.
Alston Purvis, chair of the department of graphic design, College of Fine Arts, Boston University, has written numerous books, including Type: A Visual History of Typefaces and Graphic Styles, Vol. 1, Dutch Graphic Design: A Century of Innovation, and Meggs' History of Graphic Design.
Peter Rand teaches writing at the College of Communication, Boston University, and is the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including Firestorm and China Hands.
Anna Winestein is a historian and scholar of Russian culture working on her doctoral dissertation at Oxford University.
"This deluxe book from The Monacelli Press is beautifully illustrated and includes a number of varied essays which offer a thorough and lively exploration of the many accomplishments of this extraordinary dance company." —Bart Boehlert's Beautiful Things