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The Dancing Painting


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#16 pherank

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 11:37 AM

Thanks for the links to the Picasso aticle, Quiggin. I think it's really wonderful that the Joffrey Ballet went to the trouble of re-creating Parade (with the aged Massine's help). Parade is the coolest.  ;)

 

http://www.pbs.org/w...e-revival/2398/

 

EDIT: relating to Quiggin's posting, here's more images by designers for Diaghilev's Ballet Russes:

 

http://hcl.harvard.e...nic_designs.cfm

 

I think MIro's Romeo and Juliet plan would make ABT fans howl.  ;)

 

49_1.jpg



#17 Quiggin

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 03:24 PM

Thanks, Pherank, for the great Massine rehearsal clips for "Parade" and his egg in the mouth instructions. According to John Richardson, Satie and Picasso substantially rewrote the ballet without Cocteau knowing about it. Yes it's absolutely wonderful, and one must ask why we aren't we doing satirical ballets like that today?

 

The Miro set looks delightful, but almost as a light comedy. Also it reflects the size of Ballet Russes productions which I think must have much smaller than the ones we are used to seeing at New York State Theater or the Met – much more small scaled and intimate. Even the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco seems too big for Diaghilev-era productions such as Apollo and Petroushka. (Paul Taylor presented a perfectly scaled version of the latter here at the Yuerba Buena theater a few years back.)

 

There was also a curious Dame Ninette de Valois ballet based on Manet's Bar aux Folies Bergere – it was perhaps a bit too lightheartedly choreographed for the painting's sombre subject, much discussed by art historians in the past 25 years.

 

According to Horst Koegler in his Dictionary of Ballet:

 

 

Bar aux Folies-Bergere, ballet in one act … decorations by William Chappell. 15 May 1934. The ballet based on Charbrier’s Dix pieces pittoresques, starts and finishes with a group composition representing Manet’s famous painting. The characters, however, seem to have been inspired by Toulouse-Lautrec, the ballet's two most famous dances being the solo for La Goulue, and the can-can. This was the only ballet ever created by de Valois for the Rambert company.
 

 

http://nla.gov.au/nla.pic-an23999060

 

http://en.wikipedia....es-Bergère.jpg



#18 pherank

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 03:44 PM

Thanks Quiggin - I had not previously heard of Bar aux Folies-Bergere. I personally love the sets with hand-painted backdrops/art. RE: Parade - I seem to recall that Cocteau DID know they were 'hijacking' the project away from his original conception and direction (how much is hard to say). And he was very hurt that Picasso and Satie seemed only to be responding to each other, and not to his (Cocteau) direction. I can only image how difficult it would be to get all these artists to work together on a single project. Both painting and music composition tend to be solitary pursuits. And all those tremendous egos in one place: it boggles the mind.



#19 Buddy

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 06:35 PM

Thanks everyone for today's very interesting discussion of 'modernism.' I've been away for much of the day but will try to catch up.

 
I'm still focused on  
 
* Contrapposto * 
 
"Contrapposto was an extremely important sculptural development for it is the first time in Western art [ Greece, around 5th century b.c.] that the human body is used to express a psychological disposition." 
 
 
It also seems to take a single image, such as a painted human figure, and give it the force and significance of an entire event.  Dance, such as ballet, can be a string of such images giving it a much greater range.
 
Sandro Botticelli's "Birth of Venus" remains of great interest to me.
 
A Still image, Venus, dances.  
 
 
(This can also bring Michelangelo to mind and his perhaps abstract awareness and sensitivity that predates and anticipates Pablo Picasso by 400 years. All these artists could make the still image 'move,' maybe even dance). 
 
Sandro Botticelli's "Birth of Venus" is classically and architecturally focused on Venus, but it's also musical. It feels like ballet to me. Focus seems to be directed to her eyes, perhaps to remain, which seems very classical, but her hair flowing off to our right seems to be a possible release from this. It keeps the eye moving or dancing. I guess you can make what you want from a piece of art, but for the moment I'm getting a musical dance sensation from this still figure that does not seem unrelated in its lovely refinement to such ballet highlights as the famous Act II duet from Swan Lake.


#20 Buddy

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 07:26 AM

Thanks again Quiggin and Pherank for the very interesting discussion. These are a few quotes that caught my attention.

 

Thanks, Pherank, for the Diaghilev's Ballet Russes designs. I really like MIro's Romeo and Juliet plan.

 

I'll try to look at all the illustrations more carefully.



#21 Buddy

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 09:28 AM

A thought about artistic pursuit.
 
A work of art may well go beyond the artist's  intent and even the artist her or himself. It becomes part of the 'public domain' where it is given additional or new significance, perhaps even a new identity.


#22 Buddy

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 11:38 AM

And back to Art /Contrapposto and Dance/ Epaulement. From a very interesting topic here from quite awhile ago -- "What, if anything, is Western about classical ballet?"
 
"All, absolutely all, Indian art-works I have seen from ancient times, use the turn-out. And not only do they use the turn out: they use épaulement, and even academic figures like the attitude, in ways virtually identical to Western classical dance."  (katharine kantner)
 
( Katherine also makes the statement which was then debated, "Western classical dance, to the best of my knowledge, descends quite directly from technical and artistic experiments carried out on the Indian sub-continent something like three thousand years ago.")
 
 
 
 
Another idea that I can't historically locate for the moment is the concept in visual art (sculpture) that the work should be beautiful from every angle. I would have to guess that Dance got there first.


#23 Quiggin

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 03:01 PM

Buddy:

 

" 'Contrapposto was an extremely important sculptural development for it is the first time in Western art [ Greece, around 5th century b.c.] that the human body is used to express a psychological disposition.' "

 

I think that most of the dances on Greek vases are Dionysian – or done by Satyrs. And I believe Western pas de tros was originally a satyr and two nymphs, later Pan and two partners – as we see it in Emeralds. The Greek term contrapposto was something like chiasma, diagonal arrangement or rhetorical device, and may have had a different set of associations than we give it. "Psychological disposition" might be a 19c or 20c art history add-on.

 

*

 

This evocative painting might be something in the line of your original thought –  Poussin's essay on dance and time which gave birth to a multi-volumed novel some centuries later:

 

http://en.wikipedia....ime_c._1640.jpg

 

 

*

 

Regarding Satie and Picasso contra Cocteau, Douglas Cooper in Picasso Theatre, a great and spicily opinioned resource, published a series of postcards between the conspirators. Picasso, encourage by Satie, wanted to eliminate Cocteau's "more egregious gimmicks" (Richardson) and also its similarity to Petroushka. Picasso added the parts of three Managers to the libretto. The famous curtain with the white winged female pegasus and dancer and commedia del'arte characters was also Picasso's idea – Cocteau originally wanted the curtain to look like a scroll of movie titles with the stars' names written on it.

 

 

Some of Picasso's paintings were influenced by the ballet.  The influence on Guernica's background is most interesting. 

 

 

T J Clark's new book Picasso and Truth traces the development of Picasso's motifs and mise en scene from intimate Blue Room of 1901 through the horrific Young Girls Dancing (Picasso's farewell to Diaghilev), and on through Guernica. I luckily sat in on a two day seminar in Berkeley Picasso in the 1920s that Clark, Elizabeth Cowling, Jay Bernstein and others participated in, and was one of the few laypersons, and so I've become a sort of mad convert to all this stuff.

 

Here's "roomspace" after Mercure – after the comfortable interiority of cubism of pre-war Bohemianism was breached by the raucous post-war world – which culminates in the bombing of Guernica.

 

http://www.guggenhei...ne/artwork/3441

 

from Picasso and Truth:

 

The table is a stage, and the instruments performers. There is maybe a proscenium arch up above, and floodlights glare at the guitar and tablecloth. Elizabeth Cowling points out that just week before Still Life was started, Picasso had put the finishing touches to a series of designs for the ballet Mercure. She makes the link to the gloomy stage set for a scene in the ballet called Night. This is helpful – as long as we insist that Still Life is Day to Night's Night. Still Life wants above all to conjure up a room in which everything is imprinted with a dazzling exteriority, and light – noon – is that exteriority's carrier... We are standing on it [the little balcony under the table]. The stars on the table are anti-night. They are pure scintillation.

 

 

 



#24 Buddy

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 11:27 PM

This evocative painting might be something in the line of your original thought –  Poussin's essay on dance and time which gave birth to a multi-volumed novel some centuries later:

 

http://en.wikipedia....ime_c._1640.jpg

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 
Thanks so much, Quiggin, for the wealth of information you've offered. It'll take me awhile to think about it all. Could you possibly clarify your above quote? What "original thought" of mine are you referring to? The quote "Contrapposto was…."? Can you tell us some more about what makes Poussin's painting so important to us?
 
I recall in one of the video documentaries that George Balanchine said that Sergei Diaghilev told him to go to art museums and almost in the same breath said that he owed everything in his development to Sergei Diaghilev. Can anyone explain why art was so important to him and possibly give some specific examples of what works of art or areas of art might have greatly influenced him?


#25 Buddy

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Posted 01 August 2013 - 09:19 AM

Here are Katharine's quotes again.

 

"All, absolutely all, Indian art-works I have seen from ancient times, use the turn-out. And not only do they use the turn out: they use épaulement, and even academic figures like the attitude, in ways virtually identical to Western classical dance."  (katharine kantner)

 

( Katharine also makes the statement which was then debated, "Western classical dance, to the best of my knowledge, descends quite directly from technical and artistic experiments carried out on the Indian sub-continent something like three thousand years ago.")

 

 http://balletalert.i...osto#entry21573

 

 

This sculpture shows beautiful contrapposto/epaulement and musicality but it's much later, 10th century a.d.

 

http://en.wikipedia....atakaApsara.jpg

 

http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Indian_art

 

 

Here's more 'old' art from India (the works are undated) which gives some insight into the actuality of this art. There is turnout, for one thing, but not everywhere. 

 

http://www.tuttartpi...ent-indian.html

 

In any case the idea that much of Western 'classical' dance may have it's roots in the East and India is very interesting. What importance the visual arts played in this is of possible interest also.

 

 

Added comment:

 

There is no reason why this discussion of the interrelationship of the visual arts and dance has to be limited to Western culture.

 

http://www.chinahigh...lture/dance.htm

 

https://en.wikipedia...aditional_dance

 

http://en.wikipedia....i/African_dance



#26 Buddy

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Posted 03 August 2013 - 09:34 AM

In regard to the visual art's influence on George Balanchine I found this.
 
"One of the things for which he was always grateful to Diaghilev was that the latter took some pains to develop Balanchine's knowledge and appreciation of painting…..For Diaghilev himself, paintings were not merely a pleasure but a passion, a necessity. When he stood before a picture, he seemed to be not just looking at it but imbibing it.
 
"He [Balanchine] grew especially fond of Perugino."
 
(page 77, "Balanchine: A Biography" by Bernard Taper)
 
 
Here's the Perugino ceiling that the  story on page 78 refers to.
 
 
Here's another Perugino in the Sistine Chapel.
 
 
 
 
[correction made to the Perugino ceiling paintings]
 
[Added]
 
This is considered one of Perugino's finer works.
 
("In the painting, the figures' sweet angelic air is as characteristic of Perugino's idealised world as the graceful landscape with its feathery trees.")
 
(clicking on the images will sometimes produce a larger image)


#27 dirac

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Posted 10 August 2013 - 10:35 PM

Sandro Botticelli's "Birth of Venus" is classically and architecturally focused on Venus, but it's also musical. It feels like ballet to me. Focus seems to be directed to her eyes, perhaps to remain, which seems very classical, but her hair flowing off to our right seems to be a possible release from this. It keeps the eye moving or dancing.

 

 

Balanchine took the young Suzanne Farrell to see this painting, and told her she reminded him of Venus.



#28 Buddy

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Posted 12 August 2013 - 07:54 AM

Thank you very much, dirac, for this information. Last year I spent several hours with this painting and the same with Michelangelo's "David" and 'friends'. I hope to do the same again in about a month.

 

Michelangelo is another very interesting possibility for this discussion. I think that he might not have effected George Balanchine as much, because he was so male oriented. Still he's a fascinating artist if you want to consider motion/emotion, even dance.

 

I wonder what other artists were particularly interesting to George Balanchine and why he apparently felt that paintings were so important along with Sergei Diaghilev. I'd like to explore more why Perugino seemed to be his early favorite.

 

Sandro Botticelli's "Birth of Venus" is perhaps my favorite female work of art. Michelangelo's "David" being the male counterpart. Both, as guidebooks are quick to point, reside in Florence, Italy and are the pride of the city. I wonder what he saw in "The Birth of Venus" that resembled Suzanne Farrell. Maybe the resemblance was the Suzanne Farrell 'Experience' as well a portrait similarity. I'd like to think so. 

 

When you told me, dirac, that my choice of titles for this topic, "The Dancing Painting", was a good one, I think it showed that you may understand this title better than I do. Thanks so much for your continued interest. "

 

 

Lovely aside:

 

Several days after seeing "The Birth of Venus" I took a bus into the Tuscany countryside near Florence. Sitting next to me was a teenage blond student on her way back to her village. She was a beauty. I made a joke to the folks sitting next to me after she got off the bus, that she had told me that she was "Botticelli's Venus." She was lovely to talk to as well as beautiful. She made the six weeks that I spent trying to learn some Italian for a four day visit totally worthwhile. Not only that, but she told me that she spent each summer in India. (In fascinating retrospect, your 'ballet may have originated in India' connection, Katharine Kantner?)  Not your typical girl from the Italian countryside. I wont forget her. 

 

 

And:

 

A partial answer to my question of why  George Balanchine and Sergei Diaghilev considered painting so important,

related to dance. From the quote in the first paragraph of this topic: 

 

* "Diaghilev understood that the principles of composing bodies and space in art were closely allied to those of dance." *

 

I'm very interested at the moment in works of art that have a dance Feeling to them, that can be seen as actually dancing, i.e. "The Birth of Venus"  (also those of Michelangelo and more abstractly , Picasso or Chinese landscape scrolls). This may not speak to how a particular work has directly influenced dance, but if famous dance 'creators' such as  George Balanchine and Sergei Diaghilev studied them so carefully, maybe there is even more than "composing bodies and space," such as implied motion, expression and events in life, although these may be implied in the quote. "Composing" can imply motion and how a static work of art can accomplish this and relate it to those focussing on dance can be very interesting.



#29 dirac

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Posted 12 August 2013 - 05:35 PM

Thanks to you, too, Buddy. I think Balanchine's view of painting and other visual arts diverged from Diaghilev's in important respects.  There’s a story  that Lincoln Kirstein once invited Balanchine  to visit a museum during Balanchine's early days on American shores. “No, thanks,” was the reply. “I’ve been to a museum.” I wouldn't take that story too literally even if true - we know that Balanchine was in and out of museums  - but Balanchine made relatively little use of those arts in his own art. 



#30 Buddy

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Posted 12 August 2013 - 07:55 PM

Thanks to you, too, Buddy. I think Balanchine's view of painting and other visual arts diverged from Diaghilev's in important respects.  There’s a story  that Lincoln Kirstein once invited Balanchine  to visit a museum during Balanchine's early days on American shores. “No, thanks,” was the reply. “I’ve been to a museum.” I wouldn't take that story too literally even if true - we know that Balanchine was in and out of museums  - but Balanchine made relatively little use of those arts in his own art. 

 

 
Thanks, dirac.
 
I would again offer these two quotes from above.
 
"One of the things for which he was always grateful to Diaghilev was that the latter took some pains to develop Balanchine's knowledge and appreciation of painting…..
 
(page 77, "Balanchine: A Biography" by Bernard Taper)
 
 
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."
 
 
 
Another thing that makes the visual arts interesting to those in dance might be obvious. No words are used, either spoken or ,in most cases, written.
 
 
 
And back to Michelangelo for a moment. This is a work that I would like to offer just for viewing for now. Any thoughts or feelings anyone ?
 
The Rondanini Pieta by Michelangelo
 
 
 
https://www.google.c...o_Giovanni_Dall'Orto%252C_6-jan-2006_-_09.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fcommons.wikimedia.org%252Fwiki%252FFile%253AMilano_-_Castello_sforzesco_-_Michelangelo%252C_Piet%2525C3%2525A0_Rondanini_by_Michelangelo_(1564)_-_Foto_Giovanni_Dall'Orto%252C_6-jan-2006_-_09.jpg%3B2048%3B3072
 
 
 
 
As a comparison
 
The David by Michelangelo
 
 
 
 
[one of the posted images was changed]
 
 



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