While the galleries are being stripped, Diana and I took off for Barcelona where a significant selection of the V&A’s Diaghilev exhibition will be show from October before moving on to Madrid next year. We saw the space where it will be presented in the stunning Caxia-Forum which houses three concurrent exhibitions from all over the world at one time. The one we saw most closely was Roads to Arabia Archaeological treasures from Saudi Arabia. The building was originally a textile factory but designed a century ago in the Catalan art nouveau style by Josep Puig i Cadafalch, a beautiful building at the base of Montjuïc, near the La Fira de Barcelona complex. We looked around the gallery that the Diaghilev exhibition will move into (an exhibition of the works of Alexander Rodchenko was being installed) and their facilities.
Diaghilev (sitting on the ground) and members of the Ballets Russes while on tour in Spain 1918 at the Alhambra, Granada
We also had meetings with their curators about how to re-work the exhibition for Spanish visitors. Obviously we will be playing up the periods when the Ballets Russes worked in Spain, particularly during the 1914-18 war and their visits in the 1920s to Barcelona. Seasons at the Liceo were quite often fitted in after the Monte Carlo winter seasons as it was an easy train ride along the Mediterranean. I enjoyed seeing the images used for the Spanish posters and programmes, so many actually taken from the early seasons, not the later works or creations in Spain! In addition it was fun to see some of the newspaper cartoons – one of which indicated that Nijinsky continued to wear his Festin costume through to the end of his dancing career in 1917 (that rose stands out) although other dancers performing the role wore a quite different outfit. The Spanish exhibition will also feature the regional tour March to May 1918, the Spanish artists who contributed to the designs of the ballets Juan Gris, Pablo Picasso, Pedro Pruna, José-Maria Sert, the composer Mauel de Falla, and of course the most famous of the ‘Spanish ballets’ Le Tricorne or The Three-cornered Hat.
While at La Caixa we spoke to the designer for the exhibition and staff from many departments, including marketing, press and learning and it was encouraging to be greeted by such enthusiasm. The Ballets Russes exhibition will be seen at La Caixa cultural centres in Barcelona (October 2011 to January 2012) and Madrid (February to June 2012).