Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Canberra and costumes

My plan to visit Canberra for the day to see the exhibition of the Costumes of the Ballet Russes went ahead without a hitch (except for a 20minute delay leaving Melbourne). I had thought that the costumes were  traveling from overseas, but they actually belong to the National Gallery, having been bought at Sothebys years ago. 
Many were just as they had been put in hampers  after use, and most needed cleaning and restoration. Through 140 costumes from 34 productions from 1909 to 1939, the vivid and innovative dance design of the early 20th century was on show for the 100th anniversary of the Ballets Russes. 
Léon Bakst Tunic from costume for the Blue God c 1912 from Le Dieu Bleu worn by Nijinsky
The Ballets Russes made its first appearance in Paris in the 1909, a sensational season of dance organised by Diaghilev, a Russian-born impresario. The ballet integrated traditional dance narratives with modern design, folk art, contemporary music and new approaches to choreography. The costumes were so different to the traditional tutu and longer dress .
Some looked incredibly heavy and others with soft falling fabric must have looked stunning moving across the stage. Especially with Nijinsky in them!! There were 3 huge rooms, and with each set of costumes were details of the Ballet story, choreographer, designer and the music. It was one of these ballets that introduced Stravinsky to the Western world.
 Goncharova’s squid costume
Some ballet sets and costumes were designed by Matisse, and  Picasso. The best preserved lot were a gorgeous collection from the ballet the Sleeping Princess that did not do well, so the costumes were kept to wait payment of the debt for the production by Diaghilev, they had never been used again.
I took it all in, in several doses and saw some of the other exhibits before I left.
1/3 of the curved room
Did you know there is a room like Monet's Waterlilies that show the whole collection of Sydney Nolan's Ned Kelly Series?
Also saw Lin Onus' Dingoes. 
In the Aboriginal and Torres strait Islander section, there was a piece ART Each letter covered with ashtrays all depicting aboriginal children or adult people. I even recognized one that I am sure we had. Not thought of it as a child as being racist, or tasteless or whatever, especially ash trays!!

Had lunch in a sunny spot outside with a view to some of the Art in the garden.
Two pieces on the front lawn
The outdoor cafe.
I had a good flight back quick pick up of the car and home by 5pm.
Had a laugh at this cartoon in the Age on the same page where I was reading about Dame Elizabeth Murdoch's 102nd Birthday!

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