Serge de Diaghilev et Serge Lifar inscribed 'Serge de Diaghilev et Serge Lifar a Monte Carlo' (lower left), pen and ink 21.5 x 29cm (8 7/16 x 11 7/16in).
EXHIBITED: Paris, Le Salon des Peintres du Spectacle, 1995 Bruxelles, Musee D'Ixelles, 1991 Baden-Baden, Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, 1989, no.121
The Russian art critic and ballet impresario Serge Diaghilev (1872-1929) was the founder of the Ballets Russes, through which the work of some of the 20th century's most important dancers, (including Vaslav Nijinsky, Serge Lifar and Anna Pavlova), as well as musicians (including Stravinsky, Debussy and Ravel) were brought to international fame. Working with Leon Bakst as artistic director, the remarkable productions of the Ballets Russes (including Cocteau's notable 1917 production Parade) had an impact on both the Art Deco and Fauvist movements. Never returning to his homeland after the Russian revolution of 1917, Diaghilev toured Europe and the United States with his ballet company, before dying in Venice in 1929.
Serge Lifar (1905-1986) is celebrated as one of the 20th century's greatest male ballet dancers, and joined Diaghilev's Ballets Russes in 1923. In 1929 he became premier danseur of the Paris Opera Ballet, and Director in 1933. Lifar had great stage presence, but was seen as one of ballet's great egocentrics, often creating roles to display his prodigious talent, and it was the nature of many of his works, summing up the zeitgeist of the age, that have meant they have aged less favourably than other productions of the era