«L’Eleganza In Esilio» Costumes and Fashion At The Time of Sergei Diaghilev. Museo di Palazzo Mocenigo. Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia.
The exhibition aims to tell the story of the cultural atmosphere and ambience of the Russian intelligentsia and the international prestige of Diaghilev’s famous Ballets Russes (1909-1929), the birth of which was celebrated at its centenary in 2009. More than two hundred works will be presented in the evocative reception rooms of the main floor of Palazzo Mocenigo – Study Centre for the History of Textiles and Costume.
From costumes created for the Ballet Russes by noted artists Léon Bakst, Natalia Gončarova, and André Derain, to apparel created by émigré Russian nobles who fled to various countries in Europe in the aftermath of the Revolution, there also are many other garments, accessories, images and documentary materials from the collections of internationally renowned fashion historian and collector Alexandre Vassiliev, as well a selection of stage costumes and artworks by famous artists – including Léon Bakst, Alexander Benois and Trubenskoj – from the collection of celebrated dancer and choreographer Toni Candeloro who, in his twenty-five year international dance career, had the opportunity to meet some of the last generation of artists from the Ballets Russes, from whom he received gifts of artworks and choreographic lore.
Curated by Francesca Dalla Bernardina, with the invaluable collaboration of Noah Brand Energy, and organised by the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia, with the patronage of the Fondazione Italia Russia, the exhibition forms part of the celebrations of the “Year of Italian Language and Culture in Russia, and the Russian Language and Culture in Italy” (which throughout 2011 includes initiatives aimed at strengthening intercultural relations between Italy and Russia). The Vassiliev Collection is arriving inItalyfor the first time, after enjoying a resounding success at theTama Art University Museum in Tokyoin 2009.
The exhibition was born from the encounter between muscovite Alexandre Vassiliev – collector, set designer, costume designer and expert on the history of fashion and costume – and the Russianist Francesca Dalla Bernardina, thanks to the alchemy “magically” created between people who share a great love and passion for fashion as art as well as for the Russian culture. From the wonderful form of art that it is, fashion represents man “in his time” and the history of fashion therefore adds significance to the story of humanity revealing ethnic origins, the desire and need for beauty, influences and international relationships.
And so it is for the early 20th century “Russian style”, which covers the years that saw the success of the renowned Ballet Russes company (1909-1929), in conjunction with the artistic passion of their great impresario, Serge Diaghilev, who had such an influence on the world of fashion in his time, being responsible for the “Oriental” style made popular in the performing arts all over Europe. To reveal this mixture of fascination, charm and elegance, in one of the most representative and sophisticated locations of Venice, always looking to the “East” – like Palazzo Mocenigo – a selection of costumes created by some of Europe’s “couture” houses whose origins date to the exile of Russian aristocratic families who moved all over Europe (particularly to Paris) after the Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917. The exhibition seeks to shed light on some new aspects of the Russian Revolution and, thanks to the great contribution by Alexandre Vassiliev – one of the major connoisseurs and collectors of Russian fashion from the early 20th century – highlighting that particular historical moment through the “lens” of fashion, has gathered rare and important examples that express just how important and influential the “Russian style” was throughout the world.
Another great contribution to the exhibition is provided by Toni Candeloro with works he has collected over his brilliant career as a dancer and choreographer, the largest Italian collection on the Art of Dance, conserved by the Fondazione Michel Fokine chaired by costume historian Federica Tornese.
Museo di Palazzo Mocenigo
Study Centre for the ’700 – ’900 Textiles and Costume History
from October 17th 2011 to February 29th 2012.
Alexandre Vassiliev (Moscow, 1958), world-renowned fashion historian and collector, set and costume designer, lecturer and author of many books and articles devoted to fashion history, has lived in an intensely theatrical world since childhood, “breathing” the atmosphere and cultural ambience typically associated with the Russian intelligentsia. A child of the theatre – his father was a designer at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow and his mother an established actress – through his continual contact with the Bolshoi, Russia’s leading theatre, and his in-depth studies in this area, he learned its history and came to appreciate the beauty and creativity of theatre and ballet costumes. Since his youth, this passion, united with that for the history of fashion and costume, led to his creation of a private collection which, in time, became a precious historical archive of over 10,000 works, comprising costumes and objects from Europe and Russia from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries, portraits of noted dancers and choreographers, photographs of ballets and operas from the most famous theatres in Moscow and St Petersburg, and costumes from Serge Diaghilev’s famous Ballets Russes, of which a significant selection of works are presented in this exhibition. The figure of Diaghilev and the story of the Ballets Russes have been a constant point of reference for Maestro Vassiliev (who still remains a passionate promoter of Russian culture), so much so that Moscow’s “Diaghilev Foundation” awarded him the Diaghilev Medal for his untiring dedication. He has mounted and curated exhibitions dedicated to the history of costumes from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries, the most important of which took place in Paris, Moscow, Antwerp, Sydney, Santiago, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Tokyo, Riga and Vilnius. He is the author of books on the History of Costumes: “Krasota v izgnanii” (Bellezza in Esilio), Slovo Mosca 1998; English edition, “Beauty in Exile”, Harry N. Abrams Inc., Publishers New York 2000; ”Evropejskaya Moda. Tri veka” (European Fashion. Three Centuries), Slovo Mosca 2006; in addition, he has also given lectures and conducted courses on the History of Fashion and Stage Design for famous institutions, including Columbia University (New York), The Royal College of Art (London), Esmod Fashion School (Paris), Glasgow School of Art, National Superior School for the Visual Arts (La Cambre) Brussels, Mode Gauken School (Tokyo), and the State Moscow University amongst many others. Alexandre Vassiliev lives and works between Moscow and Paris.
Toni Candeloro is one of the leading Italian names in the world of Dance. He started his career at a very young age, as the protagonist in Family Portrait, created by Birgit Cullberg at the Arena Theatre in Verona. Between 1987 and 1990 he was the Principal Dancer for the Zurich Opera, where he interpreted roles choreographed by Uwe Scholz, as well as Mercurio in Cranko’s Romeo and Juliet, with Marcia Haydée and Richard Cragun. Alongside Rudolf Nureyev, he danced the pas de deux from The Wandering Companion, choreographed by Maurice Bejart. In 1991 he was the only Italian guest soloist at the Grand Gala at the Kirov in Leningrad (now the Mariinsky, St Petersburg). He was part of the Bonn Opera Ballet where, in 1993, he danced various principal roles to choreography by Valery Panov, in particular, Petrushka, which was presented on tour in Moscow. In 1996 he returned to Bonn as a guest in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, choreographed by Youri Vámos. As a dancer and choreographer, he has been invited several times by Alicia Alonso to recreate the choreography of Michel Fokine for the National Ballet of Cuba. Amongst his partners, Carla Fracci, Luciana Savignano, Alessandra Ferri, Galina Panova, Anna Razzi, Eileen Brady and many others. Amongst his repertoire, he has danced Petrushka, The Spectre of the Rose, L’après-midi d’un faune, and Shéhérazade, subsequently deepening his research with some of the dancers and teachers from the last generation of Diaghilev’s circle, or with others who studied the roles personally with Tamara Karsavina, Alexandra Danilova and Alicia Markova. It is an environment that is congenial to Candeloro’s personality and culture, which have always distinguished his artistic choices and have made him one of today’s few choreographers painstaking and passionate enough to be invited by Alicia Alonso from the National Ballet of Cuba to dance Petrushka and to recreate Le Carnaval, both by Michel Fokine, the most important of the Ballet Russes choreographers. He is guest choreographer at major international theatres ranging from Europe to Russia, and at various academies including the Conservatoire National superieur de musique e de danse in Paris, and the Accademia Nazionale di Danza in Rome. He also guests at conferences and master classes in the most important Italian and European universities. He is considered by critics and public alike as an artist with the cultural power to bring the Dance to unlikely audiences, such as in 1995 in Sala Nervi in the Vatican, in the presence of Pope John Paul II; in 2009 he danced for Pope Benedict XVI and for the Dalai Lama on the occasion of the latter’s visit to Italy. Toni Candeloro has amassed a rich collection of dance memorabilia and artefacts, covering the period from the 1600s to the present day. He collaborates with the Associazione Michel Fokine and with prestigious museums, including The State Museum of Theatre and Music in St Petersburg, the Russian State Museum, St Petersburg, the Mart at Roveretto, Italy, the La Scala Museum in Milan, amongst others.