Greece 1888 – Italy 1979
commenced 1909 – 1929
Costume for a male guest
Collection Title: the Ballets Russes' production of Le Bal [The Ball]
Creation Notes: First performed 7 May, 1929, Théâtre de Monte-Carlo, Monaco
Materials & Technique: costume and dress, costumes, dickey, jacket and trousers: wool, cotton grosgrain, rayon ribbon, linen, Bakelite, paint
This costume was designed by the Surrealist painter Giorgio de Chirico for Serge Diaghilev’s Les Ballets Russes (The Russian Ballet) production of Le bal, which was first performed in Monte Carlo in 1929. The story for the opera, by Boris Kochno (based on a novel by Vladimir Sollogub), is the tale of a young man attending a masked ball and being playfully deceived by the other guests.
De Chirico’s design for the production interprets this theme of deception by using fragments of classical architecture as design motifs for the performers’ costumes and the scenery against which they appear through George Balanchine’s choreography. The design of this costume for a male guest at the ball is delineated by coarse painted strokes, suggesting a deconstructed architectural diagram of columns, capitals and brickwork in stone-like colours and textures.
This costume, and another for the Young Man in the same production, is part of the National Gallery of Australia’s extensive collection of costumes designed for the productions of Les Ballets Russes from 1909 to 1929. Le bal was Diaghilev’s last production and he died several weeks after the conclusion of its season.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Ron Radford (ed), Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2008