The beautiful man

The beautiful man

Friday, 14 January 2011

Diaghilev at the V&A

I was looking forward to the exhibition as the reviews have been so good, though my MA tutor had suggested that the curating wasn't as strong as they had hoped. As it was the last weekend it was very busy and there were queues for everything, which is never a great way to start ones sense of wonder!

The exhibition was vast, it felt like a much bigger space than the quilt even though it mustn't have been. I walked past the first bit as it was so full of people I felt quite claustrophobic. So my first 'case' was one with a top hat, opera glasses and a cape this had a resonance and the sparseness of the placing was good. The early costumes were fascinating as they seemed so basic and not the polish that we think we see when we see film or theatre now. There was a myriad of textile techniques used from ikat, applique and embroidery and a real vibrancy in them. The first set where they were turning round slowly in the centre was very fitting and enabled the whole of the costume to be viewed. I loved the Poiret pieces they were sumptuous and didn't seem dated. Also my knowledge wasn't that strong on Diaghilev so I knew of the Poiret connection and the Picasso but that was it really.
The backdrops were stunning the scale and drama was really brought home in the space especially after feeling that much more contained in the other parts of the exhibition, suddenly one felt as if on the stage, both with the Picasso and the houses backdrop. I think these were some of my favourite pieces. Also the case with ballet shoes in against a spattered painted board, the look of hard work, stories untold and promises kept and broken.
It was an immense exhibition and so much for so many people, with music, choreography, history, art, textiles, theatre, even celebrity with the wonders of the great dinner party and scandal with Nijinsky. So as far as achieving aims of engagement and education and inspiring awe it did these most successfully. I did feel overwhelmed though and would have liked a break or a map to point out the key parts of the show, I could understand people visiting more than once. I felt I couldn't do justice to the pieces there, so i would have liked to spend more time looking at the costume illustrations and the paintings of the 20s etc but it was so busy. Which in reality is fantastic for the V&A as they have produced a ground breaking successful show again, bt for me there was a little missing.

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