Thursday, March 12, 2015

Come With Me to 1909 Paris

Denver Art Museum, Paris, 1909, Ballet Russe

The Denver Art Museum’s Cartier exhibit, “Brilliant”, showcases incredible jewelry influenced by the creative ferment of Paris from 1909 onwards. 1909 saw an explosion of creativity with the premier of Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballet Russe performance of Cleopatre. Their stage sets and costumes were very new and exciting, inspiring many areas of design. Diaghilev commissioned works from composers Stravinsky and Debussy, artists such as Leon Bakst, Picasso, Matisse, and designer Coco Chanel. It would be fantastic to revisit those creative times so I’ll put on my time machine helmet and transport myself back to 1909. Why don’t you join me?

Leon Bakst

Leon Bakst

Leon Bakst collaborated with Diaghilev to create amazing sets and costumes for Ballet Russe.

Ballet Russe, 1910

Early 1910 photograph of Ballet Russe dancers with costumes by Leon Bakst.

Ballet Russe, Leon Bakst

1911 Ballet Russe program with costume created by Leon Bakst.

World War I, Matisse

From 1909 until 1914 and the start of World War I was a great period of creativity in Paris. Matisse created a series on dance. This is his 1909 “Still Life with Dance.”

Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque

Paglo Picasso, Georges Braque

In 1909 artists Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque began creating paintings in a cubist style.

Cartier, sapphire

Cartier created this magnificent 478 carat sapphire in 1913 at the height of the Ballet Russe era.


Sculptor Antoine Bourdelle created “Hercules the Archer” in 1909. You can see it at the Musee d’Orsay.

Raoul Larche, Loie Fuller, Art Nouveau

Sculptor Raoul Larche created this bronze as a tribute to the American dancer, Loie Fuller, in 1909. The Art Nouveau style was on the wane in France by 1909. After the end of World War I in 1918 many artists embraced what later became known as the Art Deco style.

Louis Bleriot, avaiator, Grand Palais

In 1909, pioneer aviator, Louis Bleriot, was the first to cross the English Channel, earning the 1000 pound prize offered by the Daily Mail. France was obsessed by aviation in this era! The very first air show began in Paris in 1909. The 1909 aviation exhibit, Salon de Locomotion Aerienne, was staged in the Grand Palais and visited by huge throngs of Parisians.

lithograph, Gamy, Paris

This is a pochoir (French for ‘stencil’) style lithograph by Gamy showing an airplane flying over Paris.

***Very early film compilation of the famous dancer Nijinsky and the Ballet Russe.

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