January 26, 2020 | By Soledad Sanchez Valdez
Art of the Stage Celebrates
Visual Art in Music, Theatre and Dance
Through May 10
Museum of Fine Arts
Geff Strik – Pulcinella
Imagine yourself contemplating your favorite painting. A two-dimensional world portrayed in a picture that is no more than a painted piece of canvas, but has the quality of taking you to a different dimension. Even if only for a few seconds.
Imagine you are suddenly transported inside the imaginary world of the picture. Finding yourself surrounded by the elements in the scene. Color, shape and texture are no longer contained by the frame. You can touch them, feel their proximity. You can smell them.
This is the most interesting experience I’ve had as scenic designer. The first time one of my designs was built for the set of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, l was magically transported. Symbolically reduced to the quarter-inch scale “little people” that I use as reference for my models.
In designing for the stage, the act of recreating the world for telling our own stories becomes an interpretation of the worlds where the stories of others take place. The principle of collaboration inherent in performing arts, expands the creative process to a different dimension with the voice of a universal language. In the urge for communicating those universal stories, different perspectives merge to allow the growing of a common project.
Seen through the eyes of extraordinary visual artists from the last two centuries, the magic of art for the stage is brought to us by a fascinating exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts Saint Petersburg.
Eugene Berman, Curtain design for Devil’s Holiday (detail), 1939
Art of the Stage, Picasso to Hockney brings original design studies and actual-size pieces for scenery, costumes, curtains and other works by artists including Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, Fernand Léger, Robert Indiana, Eugene Berman and Alexandra Exter, among others. All works are part of the extraordinary Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts in San Antonio, Texas.
A dynamic calendar of activities including dance, music, performance, lectures and film will run parallel to the exhibition that closes on May 10.
Lesley Dill, Red Ecstasy Dress from Divide Light, 2008
Before the exhibit opened, The Florida Orchestra performed at Tampa’s Straz Center for the Performing Arts and St. Petersburg’s Mahaffey Theatre. Combining projections, stage design, dance and music, the program included Rimsky-Korsakov, Beethoven, and Stravinsky, with original designs for set and costumes by Natalia Goncharova and Pablo Picasso as backdrops.
Introducing a series of collaboration projects between the arts, in the second act Tampa City Ballet, The Florida Orchestra and its resident artist Geff Strik presented a colorful new interpretation of the ballet Pulcinella.
Geff Strik – Pulcinella Mask
Considering there are an important amount of professional and community theatre companies in the Tampa Bay area, as well as a significant number of schools and performance arts training programs, this represents an exciting opportunity to see part of an extraordinary collection and honor the arts of the stage.
A delicious menu for a community eager for art, magic and history.
Find the complete schedule of events here
Alexandre Benois, Scene design for the King’s bedroom, Act III, in Le Rossignol (The Nightingale), 1914, Gouache and pastel on paper, mounted on canvas, Collection of the McNay Art Museum, Gift of Robert L. B. Tobin © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ ADAGP, Paris
Designing the Stage
February 11, 2-3 pm
How do artists working in two dimensions translate their practice to the stage?
This talk will explore why the artists featured in Art of the Stage were drawn to theater, ballet and opera productions, where they could literally see their artworks in motion.
Many of the artists share an interest in portraying energy and movement in their work, from Natalia Goncharova (for whom rhythm was particularly important) to Pavel Tchelitchev (whose metamorphosis theory embodied multiple perspectives) and of course David Hockney (who is deeply influenced by the Cubist fracturing of the picture plane).
There will also be a discussion of the major art movements and theories that these artists represent, including Rayonism, Orphism, Constructivism and Cubism.
– Katherine Pill
More about this event here
More about Katherine Pill here
Dora Maar – Picasso,
the Drama and the Tears
February 12, 10-11 am
Dora Maar by Man Ray
At the end of 1935, Dora Maar (1907-1997) was hired as a set photographer on the Jean Renoir film The Crime of Monsieur Lange. On this occasion Paul Éluard introduced her to Pablo Picasso. Their liaison would last nearly nine years.
Painter, photographer and Picasso’s ‘muse,’ Dora Maar photographed Picasso creating the famous black and white anti-war mural, Guernica. Picasso used these photographs in his creative process.
Dora captured with her camera each modification of the creation of a modern masterpiece. Her goal was ‘to preserve photographically not the stages but the metamorphoses of a picture.’ She is Picasso’s principal model, whom he often represented in tears – as The Weeping Woman.
Her passionate and disastrous liaison with Picasso ended in 1943. In this performance, Dora Maar shares her point of view of the role she played as she stood literally center stage of the Surrealist movement as it was sweeping the art world.
– Nan Colton
More about this event here
More about Dora Maar here
More about Nan Colton here
On March 11 from 10-11 am Nan Colton brings Catherine the Great and her artistic legacy to life. More here.
Natalia Goncharova Design for Rimsky-Korsakov’s Le Coq d’Or Scene Act 1
Opera and Dance
March 19, 7-7:30 pm
March 21, 3-3:30 pm
Dancer Charlotte Johnson and I are highlighting the fierce females featured in the exhibition.
Pulling from the works of two trailblazing women artists — Natalia Goncharova and Gertrude Stein — this multi-disciplinary program of opera and dance celebrates the artistic and political strides each made during the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Both women challenged gender and societal norms, questioning conventions of the day and seemingly serving as the ultimate rebels.
But a close examination of their work sees the inspiration each found in the higher ideals of the early 20th century.
– Susan Hellman Spatafora
More about these events here
More about Natalia Goncharova here
Bold quotes from Gertrude Stein here
More about Susan Hellman Spatafora here
More about Charlotte Johnson here
Explore the creative 19-teens and ‘20s and many of the artists who are part of this exhibit through these books
Everybody Was So Young: Gerald and Sara Murphy: A Lost Generation Love Story by Amanda Vaill
The creative couple who were friends with Picasso, Fitzgerald and Leger, Natalia Goncharova taught them to paint scenery for the Ballet Russes. They were at the center of a vibrant community of artists — Details here
Run-Through: A Memoir by John Houseman
Vivid memories of 1930s-‘40s theatre and performance and work with the WPA Theatre Project, Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre, Gertrude Stein’s 4 Saints in 3 Acts and so much more. If you think you know him from TV, you don’t – Houseman was part of it all and is a master storyteller — Details here
D.V. by Diana Vreeland
An exuberant memoir of exuberant living and fashion as art, with Diaghilev, Cole Porter, Josephine Baker and more — Details here
Bricktop by Bricktop with James Haskins
The iconic African American singer Cole Porter wrote “Miss Otis Regrets” for shares her Paris cafe life — Details here
Diaghilev by Richard Buckle
An essential biography of the creative force behind the Ballet Russes —Details here