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The Dancing Painting


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#1 Buddy

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 11:27 AM

"When Sergei Diaghilev was educating his young proteges to become choreographers for the Ballets Russes, he used to walk them around the great art galleries of Europe: pointing out the grouping of figures in a Renaissance painting, or the mechanistic energies of futurist art. Diaghilev understood that the principles of composing bodies and space in art were closely allied to those of dance."

 

http://www.guardian....rs-dance-in-art

 

 

Any thoughts on this one ?

 

Any works of art that you would like to discuss ?

 

Any dances ?

 

This is an interesting one.

 

"The Birth of Venus" by Sandro Botticelli

 

http://en.wikipedia....ct_-_edited.jpg

 

"In this work, as was Botticelli's desire , the essential element of the composition is the line….He sought through the values ​​of a musical line dancing and sinuous, melodic harmony of the composition…."

 

(loose translation from a momentarily lost, by me, source)



#2 dirac

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 12:22 PM

Thank you for posting this, Buddy. Yes, a lot of food for thought here.



#3 Buddy

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 02:03 PM

Thanks, dirac.
 
Another question might be has anyone seen a dance performance or an element in a performance that they can relate directly to a work of art that they've seen ?
 
I can't for the moment and I've been to a lot of art museums, but not necessarily a large variety of dance performances. Also I've not tended to look at 'museum' art as possible inspiration for dance.
 
Judith Mackrell in the article with the introductory quote to this topic is able to do this. She relates Vermeer's The Music Lesson  to Kenneth MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet and Vermeer's The Guitar Player to  Richard Alston's Light Flooding into Darkened Rooms. 
 
"The rosy-cheeked young woman in Vermeer's The Guitar Player is also on her own, but because Vermeer has placed her right in the foreground of the painting the space is all hers. The gentle plucking of her finger on strings, tenderly illuminated; the listening angle of her head, suggesting that she is playing simply to accompany her own thoughts. It's a moment I've seen before, in Richard Alston's Light Flooding into Darkened Rooms, a work not only inspired by Vermeer but which captures over and over again the delicate mysteries of intimacy and solitude."
 
I do have another interesting thought, which possibly explains one of the reasons that I like dance so much as an art form. Maybe this has happened to others as well. Often I'll admire a famous painted portrait and then someone walks by me and I'll think, "Wow, there goes the real thing." Dance is a living art, using living human beings, which is perhaps what, for me, gives it such importance and  dimension.


#4 sandik

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 04:14 PM

This is actually a big topic.  One of the roots of modern dance is the tableau vivant, a popular entertainment at the end of the 19th c where people would dress as individuals in a painting, arrange themselves in that image, and then move (sometimes to music) as they felt the painting suggested.  There are myriad examples in early modern dance of artists using images from the vis arts as jumping-off points for their own work -- Duncan, St. Denis, Graham, Jooss all worked with this strategy.  There are several dances in the Balanchine rep that seem to refer to visual art sources -- the fingertip touch in Apollo is the example most people use, but there are others.

 

I don't think I can count the number of works I've seen that were intentionally based on vis art imagery -- add to those the works that seem to do it unconsciously and it's a pretty big list.



#5 Buddy

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 05:08 PM

I don't think I can count the number of works I've seen that were intentionally based on vis art imagery -- add to those the works that seem to do it unconsciously and it's a pretty big list.

 

Any favorites or ones that you think are particularly interesting ?
 
This is one that Edward Villella tells a lot about George Balanchine.
 
"One time in particular, when I was having trouble with the pas de deux [Prodigal Son?], he said, “no, not right, not right, Byzantine icons, dear.” So I went back and looked at some Byzantine icons and right there I understood the whole port de bras."
 


#6 dirac

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 09:18 PM

One of the roots of modern dance is the tableau vivant, a popular entertainment at the end of the 19th c where people would dress as individuals in a painting, arrange themselves in that image, and then move (sometimes to music) as they felt the painting suggested. There are myriad examples in early modern dance of artists using images from the vis arts as jumping-off points for their own work -- Duncan, St. Denis, Graham, Jooss all worked with this strategy.

 

 

sandik, you put me in mind of Romney's portraits of Lady Emma Hamilton - Emma's speciality in the days before Sir William made an honest woman of her was to appear in tableaux vivants, usually inspired by images from antiquity (as Isadora was):

 

Emma’s stint as Romney’s model had given her experience posing in various classical guises. She’d also had the dubious distinction earlier in her career in London, of having worked as a scantily clad model and dancer – or “Goddess of Health” – at Dr. Graham’s Temple of Health and Hymen, which claimed to cure the reproductive and sexual problems of couples. Emma used her “theatrical” experiences to develop her “Attitudes”.

 



#7 sandik

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 10:36 PM

 

I don't think I can count the number of works I've seen that were intentionally based on vis art imagery -- add to those the works that seem to do it unconsciously and it's a pretty big list.

 

Any favorites or ones that you think are particularly interesting ?

 

Not a favorite per se, but a very direct example of the connection you're discussing would probably be Michael Smuin's The Eternal Idol, a duet he made for ABT in the 60's where the dancers begin in the position Rodin created.



#8 Buddy

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Posted 29 July 2013 - 09:57 AM

Thanks, sandik.
 
Can anyone think of a work that that has been largely Important to dance or has anyone seen one that they thought could have a particularly interesting impact ?
 
A lot of folks probably know this one.
 
The Attitude Position -- Giambologna's Statue of Mercury
 
"Another leading artist who was creating new works still based on classical models was Giovanni da Bologna or Giambologna (1529-1608). The most gifted and famous Florentine sculptor after the death of Michelangelo, his sculptures exhibit grace through movement, classical beauty and strength. His bronze statue of Mercury, done in 1564, captures the expression of flight in this messenger from Heaven. This graceful and elegant statue, if turned slowly on a pedestal, shows the Mannerist principle that the body must be beautiful from any viewpoint, incidentally, another principle absorbed into ballet theory. Bologna’s Mercury inspired Carlo Blasis, one of the great ballet masters of the 19th century, to develop a new pose, “en attitude”, which is very common ballet position today."
 
 
and
 
The Arabesque Position
 
"In classical ballet, the term arabesque (aa-rah-besk; literally, "in Arabic fashion".) references an architectural design term that describes and is a spiral. The arabesque is designed linearly, parallel to the balletic position, because the body "spirals" from the crown of the head through the back and then straightens through the extended leg, as does the design of the same name. This design was used heavily during the French Baroque when Rameau and Beauchamp codified it into classical ballet."
 


#9 pherank

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Posted 29 July 2013 - 12:31 PM



 



I don't think I can count the number of works I've seen that were intentionally based on vis art imagery -- add to those the works that seem to do it unconsciously and it's a pretty big list.

 

Any favorites or ones that you think are particularly interesting ?

 

 

If I'm understanding you correctly, an obvious example from popular culture would be Gene Kelly's An American in Paris - for example the Toulouse Lautrec section of the extended "ballet":

 

 

That type of stage decoration/illustraton work is rarely seen in present day films. CG special effects aren't nearly as interesting to me as sets painted by the artist's hand.



#10 Buddy

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Posted 29 July 2013 - 01:29 PM

Thanks, pherank. I'll try to look at this more carefully. Something similar that comes to mind, although it's not dance, is Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet movie (1968). I'm not a big movie goer, but it was the first movie or major theatrical production that I saw, and remains primary in my mind, that captured (perhaps literally) in costuming and sets the actual art of the time, in this case the Italian renaissance.
 
 
 
 
 
In regard to works of art's contribution to dance here's another important one.
 
 
Contrapposto and Epaulement
 
"Contrapposto was an extremely important sculptural development for it is the first time in Western art that the human body is used to express a psychological disposition." 
 
 
"The balanced, harmonious pose of the Kritios Boy ["first statue that we have that uses contrapposto", around 5th century BC] suggests a calm and relaxed state of mind, an evenness of temperament that is part of the ideal of man represented. From this point onwards Greek sculptors went on to explore how the body could convey the whole range of human experience…."
 
 
"In ballet, épaulement denotes the dancer's ability to turn, bend and shape the placing of the trunk, shoulders, arms, neck and head to produce the subtlest contrasts and oppositions. In Italian art it is contrapposto, and this is what gives life, veracity and power to a drawn or sculpted position. In classical ballet it turns the academic pose into the beautiful, the fascinating." (Clement Crisp)
 


#11 dirac

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Posted 29 July 2013 - 02:25 PM

Another question might be has anyone seen a dance performance or an element in a performance that they can relate directly to a work of art that they've seen ?

 

 

I haven't seen Wheeldon's "Swan Lake" but photographs suggest that some of its scenes refer very directly to Degas' paintings of dancers.

 

BTW I like your title for the thread, Buddy.



#12 Buddy

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Posted 29 July 2013 - 02:52 PM

Thanks, dirac.

 

The title of this topic, "The Dancing Painting," probably implies going in the other direction -- how does dance influence visual works of art. My initial reference to dancing lines in Sandro Botticelli's "Birth of Venus" is an example. I would really like to explore this as well. Also things like Sergei Diaghilev's interest in "the mechanistic energies of futurist art" could be fascinating. It might be a back and forth sort of discussion here. I would love to hear anyone's ideas about Anything in regard to the Interplay of the visual arts and dance and  related aspects of the performing arts.



#13 Buddy

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Posted 29 July 2013 - 04:11 PM

Does Sandro Botticelli's "Birth of Venus" dance ?

 

Do you get any dance sensation anywhere ?

 

So far, I do somewhat from the figure of Venus, herself, as my eyes move along the lines and implied forms. It becomes sort of a musical voyage. Her left arm is possibly one of the most musically flowing and intriguing parts of the painting.  

 

http://en.wikipedia....ct_-_edited.jpg

 

 

Further thought:
 
Continued viewing does seem to keep the focus of the entire painting on Venus, herself, and on the musicality contained there. It would have been interesting to have seen this spread through the entire painting as I've sensed, for instance, in certain Chinese landscape paintings.


#14 sandik

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Posted 29 July 2013 - 11:41 PM

I haven't seen Wheeldon's "Swan Lake" but photographs suggest that some of its scenes refer very directly to Degas' paintings of dancers.

 

There are multiple references to Degas in the work, both in the costumes/settings and the dramatic action -- there are several moments that appear to be set in a dance studio, so that some of the white act ensembles look like rehearsals.



#15 Quiggin

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 10:51 AM

In the teens and twenties there was a lot of significant trafficing back and forth between Cubism, abstraction and the stage. Two examples:

 

– Balanchine used to see a lot of Malevich paintings and other avant garde works at the house of Tamara Geva's father, the collector Levky Zheverzheyev, where Balanchine would come for tea ("I liked the pictures though I didn't understand them completely"). Malevich's Supremativism, influenced by Braque and Picasso's synthetic cubism, may have stimulated Balanchine's interest in working on the diagonal. Some of the paintings could be floor plans for his ballets.

 

A 1913 exhibition of Malevich's works (one of the compositions has been hung in the corner where the room's icon was traditionally positioned):

http://www.dmoma.org...s/futurist.html

 

– Picasso brought a lot of his Cubist ideas to the ballet – with his set and costume designs for "Parade" 1917, "Three-Cornered Hat" 1919, "Pulcinella" 1920, and "Mercure" 1924. The ballet became his workshop and he did little sculpture during this period. His paintings began to include raked floors, hard colors and stage lighting, overlapping scrims and other little references – such as the small enclosure from which the conductor watches the stage and which doubles as a skewed balcony view in his San Raphael window series. And T. J. Clark notes that the background of "Guernica" is not so different from that for "Pulcinella" twenty years before.

 

Here's a good assortment of images from Picasso, la danza e otto settimane in Italia, parts 1-3:

 

http://www.balletto....hp?articolo=250

http://www.balletto....hp?articolo=229

http://www.balletto....hp?articolo=222




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