The Ballets Russes and the Art of Design

The Ballets Russes and the Art of Design | Danza Ballet

Edited by Alston Purvis, Peter Rand and Anna Winestein.

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.

The Ballets Russes and the Art of Design | Danza Ballet

The Ballets Russes and the Art of Design

  • Edited by Alston Purvis, Peter Rand and Anna Winestein.
  • Category: Art – Design – Textile & Costume.
  • Format: Hardcover, 208 pages
  • Publisher: The Monacelli Press
  • ISBN: 978-1-58093-254-7 (1-58093-254-1)
  • Pub Date: December 1, 2009

About the Author

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.

Table of Contents

Peter Rand

Chapter One
Designing Dance
John E. Bowlt

Chapter Two
Ballets Russes Costumes and the Art of Design
Sarah Woodcock

Chapter Three
The Evidence of the Backcloth
Sarah Woodcock

Chapter Four
Hartford's Historic Evening
Eric Zafran

Chapter Five
Posters of the Ballets Russes
Alston Purvis

Chapter Six
Still Dancing: Photographs and Postcards of the Ballets Russes
Anna Winestein

Chapter Seven
In His Own Voice: Diaghilev in the British Press
Lynn Garafola

Chapter Eight
The Dancing Museum
Eric Zafran

Chapter Nine
Collecting Designs for the Ballets Russes: A Conversation
Nina Lobanov-Rostovsky and Nikita D. Lobanov-Rostovsky

Chapter Ten
The Ballets Russes on the Auction Block
Anna Winestein


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