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The Exhibition Beautiful

Aesthetes were very aware of the importance of colour and pattern to the creation of what they called ‘The House Beautiful’. They preferred subtle tertiary hues, such as olive green and terracotta, and used motifs such as the peacock, lily and sunflower throughout their designs. The Cult of Beauty exhibition designers were therefore faced with the challenge of creating a suitable environment in which the Aesthetic artworks could be displayed, a space which would complement but not overwhelm the objects. Right from their early concept, the designers at the Dutch firm Opera were aware of what was needed. Shades of …

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Archives

Alicia Markova in La Chatte and the petty cash receipt in her own hand for her shoes for this ballet The Archival case has been dismantled. This was the last material taken out of its case. It was fun putting this together and although some visitors moved past it quickly others poured over the documents fascinated. The documents ranged from the first contract for Hilda Munnings (about to become Munningsova and later Lydia Sokolova), together with a letter from her father as in 1913 she was underage to sign a legal document, through to a petty cash receipt for Alicia …

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Continuing Mysteries

The cover of the 1915 souvenir programme, note the women’s Kokoshnik headdresses The Nijinsky, Poiret and Matisse cases were de-installed today so many of our star objects have been put away. As all the costumes are packed it is an opportunity to check details – sometimes because of questions received during the exhibition – sometimes because other questions spring to mind. It is fascinating, for example, to look closely at the Snow Maiden’s headscarf for Soleil de nuit spread flat out to appreciate its appliqué. The solo, originally danced by Lydia Lopokova, was added by Massine to his ballet created …

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Still revolving

The banners have gone! As far as I can see the only public vestige of the exhibition in and around the V&A is the banners in the Sackler Centre from the ‘Train bleu project’ and posters covering the glass on the door to gallery 38. All the orange posters and banners have disappeared from the tunnel to South Kensington tube and from around the exhibition. We have also disappeared from the Home Page of the V&A’s website so information on the exhibition may now require a little more hunting! In the galleries the revolve with the costumes from Daphnis and …

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Going, going, gone

After filing my blog yesterday I returned to the galleries for a last look.After 17.15 the crowds thinned out and among the last visitors were a widely diverse group; two children were dancing in front of The Firebird and a family was making lightening sketches of costumes. Visitors departed reluctantly but happily and I knew I’d never see the full exhibition again. How right I was. By the time I reached the gallery this morning the whole of the Rite of Spring section had been dismantled including the Meissen figures from Le Carnaval and the designs and drawings of Le …

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A disappearing act and answers to questions

As I arrived at the V&A on Sunday at 8.45 the last banners advertising Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes 1909-1929 were being taken down which really made it feel like the end. However I had one last special tour to give ahead of the public flocking in. By lunchtime the tickets for the last day were completely sold out, as were the copies of the book to accompany the exhibition. Adolph Bolm in Prince Igor Comments left about the exhibition have been enlightening and helpful. Yes, with the crowds flocking in this last week it did …

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The end continues

A view of the end of the exhibition showing Diaghilev’s death mask, set designs for The Prodigal Son and costumes for Le Bal as well as the legacy section with the final AV screen. This week the exhibition has been crowded with about four times the numbers of visitors we have had in previous weeks. While before New Year it was very comfortable, enabling the visitors easy access to captions (Yes I know it depends on how tall you are as to how easy they are to read) and to view the AVs. I will admit that with the hoards …

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Adventures with costumes

In the exhibition we show a short film incorporating material from the BBC’s Late Night Line Up: Diaghilev Scenery and Costumes originally transmitted on 22 July 1968 to help explain the acquisition of sets and costumes by the V&A. Of course the full story is somewhat more complex as they were purchased by Richard Buckle – with, as he liked to say, other people’s money, to establish a Museum of Theatre Arts in London. They were handed over to the V&A some six years later in 1974 when a number of collections came together. In 1975 in conjunction with Salisbury …

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Fun

The young girls in La Pastorale (1926) Photo Sasha Today I gave an early morning tour for dancers of the Richard Alston Dance Company. Occasionally the V&A will make such special arrangements for associated organisations to have a tour before the museum opens. Richard himself has helped considerably with the exhibition including creating the minute of choreography to enable us to record the process. http://www.vam.ac.uk/channel/happenings/exhibitions_and_galleries/richard_alston_on_diaghilevs_choreography/ Anyway it is always delightful to take an enthusiastic group around. There was a lovely moment after the group had left when one of the gallery attendants asked if I noticed that the girl in …

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The beginning of the end

Sadly those slashes are appearing on advertisements for the exhibition which say ‘last week’. Visitors are, nevertheless,flocking including a number from overseas either taking advantage of the ‘holiday period’ or rushing in at the eleventh hour when the cost of flights drops. We do like their enthusiasm and remarks such as that from a Canadian visitor who said ‘This is one of the most powerful/beautiful exhibitions I’ve ever been to. Thanks to my beloved V&A.’ We also just had a lovely review from Germany, ‘The exhibition is the culmination of all the Diaghilev exhibitions focussing on the 100 year anniversary. …

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