Picasso’s curtain for 1917 ‘Parade’ ballet … exhibited in Pompidou Center in Metz …

For years now Picasso’s largest work of art – a curtain – has been in storage in Paris’s Pompidou Center for lack of a space large enough to hang it, but it is now to be displayed in the center’s sister museum – the Pompidou Center in Metz. The Spanish-born but French-at-heart Picasso – Pablo […]

Picasso's curtain

For years now Picasso’s largest work of art – a curtain – has been in storage in Paris’s Pompidou Center for lack of a space large enough to hang it, but it is now to be displayed in the center’s sister museum – the Pompidou Center in Metz.

The Spanish-born but French-at-heart Picasso – Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso (1881-1973) – painted the curtain in 1917 for the stage of Paris’s Théatre du Châtelet (Châtelet Theatre) for the ballet Parade.

The one-act scenario for Parade was written by French poet, novelist, dramatist, playwright, artist and filmmaker, Jean Cocteau (1889-1963) for Russian Sergei (Serge) Pavlovich Diaghilev (1872-1929) founder and director of Imperial Russia’s Ballets Russes and to be performed in Paris.

The music score was composed by French composer and pianist Erik Satie (1866-1925) and the choreography was the work of Russian choreographer and ballet dancer Léonid (Léonide) Fyodorovich Myasin (Massine) (1896-1979). The bi-sexual Massine was Diaghilev’s lover at the time and had replaced Russian Vatslav (Vaslav) Nijinksy (1889-195)) as, not only first dancer for the Ballet Russes, but also as Diaghilev’s lover.

The orchestra conductor for Parade which premiered at the Chatelet on Friday, May 18, 1917, was Swiss Ernest Alexandre Ansermet (1883-1969). (Bear in mind that this was during the First World War – 1914-1918.)

Apart from creating the curtain, Picasso, then 36, also designed the costumes for the ballet.

One of the costumes designed by Picasso

His friend, French poet, novelist, short story writer and art critic, Wilhelm Albert Wlodzimierz Apilinary Kostrowicki, known as Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918) who wrote the programme for the ballet described it as une sorte de surrealism(a kind of surrealism) coining the word Surrealism for the visual art and writing movement in Paris. (In 1911, the two friends had been arrested for the theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre Museum, but only Apollinaire was held in custody; the two were innocent.)

The Parade curtain measures 16.5 m x 10.5 m (52.5 feet by 33.8 feet) and when it’s hanging it will cover 170 sq m (203 sq yards).

With that measurement it is 424 times larger than the 0.77 cm x 0.53 cm (2.52 ft x 1.71 ft) Mona Lisa.

The curtain, which weighs 45 kilograms (99 lbs) will go on display on Saturday, May 26  until Monday, September 24 this year (2012).
About the Metz Pompidou Center:

The 10,000 sq m museum, designed by the two architects Jean de Gastines (French) and Shigeru Ban (Japanese) was inaugurated in May 2010 by French President Nicolas Sarkozy after four years of construction which cost €86 million ($114 million / £70.3 million). The money came largely from local funding. Its annual running cost comes to €10 million (£8.3 million / $3.2 million ).

Metz' Pompidou Center

The address is : Number 1 Parvis des Droits de l’Homme and Metz is 1 hour and 20 mins from Paris with the high-speed TGV train. The museum is just a two-minute walk from the TGV railroad station or a ten-minute walk from the center of the town.

It is open every day of the week except Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Saturdays and Sundays it is open from 10 in the morning . It is of course closed on public holidays.

It costs €7 ($9 / £6) for an adult to go in and you can buy a ticket on line here or here

You can consult the French railroad here about train times and fares from Paris to Metz.

You will find the curtain in the museum’s Gallery1.

A penultimate word: Should you now be interested in Diaghilev I can recommend a book to you. It is The Story of San Michele by Swedish Alex Munthe (1857-1949). No, the book is not about Diaghilev but about San Michele the island where Diaghilev lies buried. (He died of diabetes in Venice on August 19 1929 and his remains were taken by boat to San Michele for burial. All his life he feared dying by drowning so he stayed away from seas, rivers and lakes, yet his remains sailed the Mediterranean from mainland Italy to San Michele.)

And now a last word: Paris’s Picasso Museum is closed for renovation and will reopen only in the summer of 2013.

Nothing has so far been said about the future of Picasso’s curtain, but maybe it will be hung there. That would be great I think.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marilyn Z. Tomlins

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