The Russian American Cultural Center celebrated their 11th Anniversary, and the success of its exhibition “Homage to Diaghilev’s Enduring Legacy, the final in a series of exhibitions sponsored by the Harriman Institute of Colombia University, with a gala reception and auction at the Ana Tzarev Gallery, 24 West 57th Street. The evening was a benefit for RACC’s Educational Programs, which includes an upcoming exhibit of emerging Russian-American artists, and their goal to establish a permanent museum in New York City.
Dr. Regina Khidekel, art historian, critic and curator of this extraordinary exhibition, which celebrates stage design, an often neglected major cultural movement of the 20th Century, founded the non-profit Russian American Cultural Center in 1998 to promote international understanding of Russian art and culture among the Russian speaking population of New York City, and other cultural communities.
In the Soviet Union, from the 1960’s through the mid 1980’s, the stage was the only venue where experimentation with contemporary art trends was permitted, and easier to hide. Soviet stage designers were recognized internationally, and allowed to show their work outside the Soviet Union, attracting the most progressive artists from each generation who were instrumental in the conception and development of new art movements.
To quote Regina Khidekel “Though Theatre Design is a vital Russian art form, it is unrepresented today, because these designs are often carried out in “light media” such as watercolor or gouache on paper. Furthermore, in many countries, such as the United States, stage design is considered a bit player in comparison to the fine arts. Therefore, it was important for me to draw attention to the significant role that stage design and Russian stage design in particular, played in the development of twentieth century art”. The exhibition, and the catalog book: “Rediscovered Gems of the 20th Century” is the culmination of Regina Khidekel’s extensive research into works rescued from obscurity, by artists she had known, met or studied. “It was my big pleasure and an exciting challenge to find and identify the work of artists who were in small collections, some signed, sometimes not . . . artists who were unknown, forgotten or had died during the war. Not just Diaghilev, who was well known but others who had given their lives to the theater.
Highlights of the exhibit included works by: Nicholas Roerich, who was influenced by his passion for archeology, ancient rituals, folk art and his love for music, 1874-1947; Boris Erdman who favored the experimental and the eccentric, 1899-1960; Lazar Khidekel, one of the most important artists and architects of the Russian Avant-garde who also contributed to the theatre ,1904-1986; Mikhail Shcheglov, a painter, stage and film director whose imaginative vision inspired many directors and choreographers, 1934-1996; Tatiana Bruni, whose set and costume designs for ballet Bolt by Dmitry Shostakovich epitomized the theatrical Avant-garde of the 1930’s as Soviet Art grew increasingly representational; Igor Vuskovich, a 1924 graduate of the Odessa Art Institute, a master of colorful costume designs, 1920-2004; Ivan Sevastianov’s whimsical and evocative set designs, 1920-2004; and Nellie Polyakova, part of the wave of 1960’s artists and three time winner of the St. Petersburg Theater for Children Festival for her puppet productions.
The festive evening was animated and elegant; guests mingled on both floors of the magnificent Ana Tzarev gallery as they viewed the Stage Design Exhibition, sipped cocktails and dined on a buffet of delicious Russian delicacies, bid on auction treasures, and then watched a unique, riveting and graceful art performance that combined live music and Avant-garde theatre... created and executed by up and coming composers, musicians, dancers and singers.
Honored guests included: Alec Brook-Krasny, New York State Assemblyman … Vitally I. Churkin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations …Sergey V. Garmonin, Consul General of the Russian Federation in New York …Yurly A. Sergeev, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations … prominent artists, Grisha Bruskin, George Tsypin and Georgi Alexi Meskhish.
“The Homage to Diaghilev” Catalog is available upon request.
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Published on Dec 31, 1969