Arts Everyday Living: Kindred Spirits, Artists and Dancers I—Nijinsky and the Ballet Russes

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Leon Bakst, Costume design for Nijinsky as faun, L’Apres-midi d’un Faune, 1912, graphite, tempera, watercolor with gold paint on illustration board, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut




Vaslav Nijinsky has often been acknowledged as one of the greatest dancers in history; unfortunately he performed when film was in its infancy so footage generally does not exist of his extraordinary talent today.  However, artist Leon Bakst’s costume design for the 1912 ballet, The Afternoon of s Faun, captures the essence of Nijinsky’s dynamic movement in the title role, through a rhythmic composition of swirling patterns and vibrant colors that seem to envelope the dancer’s body.

Nijinsky (1890-1950) and Bakst (1866-1924), along with Picasso and Matisse, Debussy and Stravinsky, among others, are the stars of the National Gallery of Art’s new exhibition on the Ballet Russes, When Art Danced with Music, that will be at the museum through September 2. All the art expressions are on display as you enter into the theater-like space showcasing impresario Serge Diaghilev’s dance productions that once  shocked the world a century ago.  Scheherazade, The Rite of Spring, Firebird, and of course, The Afternoon of a Faun are recreated through a spectacular combination of costumes and sets, paintings and posters, sculpture and photographs plus film excerpts on each ballet featuring famed performers such as Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov.

See the following website to learn more about the exhibition (click on related resources to view its works of art):

When Art Danced with Music


The above image is used solely for educational purposes.


And make art a part of your life with Through an Artist’s Eyes: Learning to Live Creatively.

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