Media Release – 12 November 2010

A must see exhibition at the National Gallery this summer;
150 costumes and accessories from the revolutionary Ballets Russes

 Visitors to Canberra this summer can immerse themselves in the creative explosion of the Ballets Russes at the National Gallery of Australia’s major exhibition Ballets Russes: the art of costume.

Opening on 10 December, the exhibition features 150 costumes and accessories designed by renowned artists from the early 20th century including Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Natalie Goncharova, André Derain, Giorgio de Chirico and many other artists.

“This is a must see for anyone with an interest in the performing arts, dance, fashion, textiles, contemporary arts, or anyone with a love of rich, inspirational art exhibitions,” said exhibition curator, the Senior Curator Decorative Arts and Design at the NGA, Dr Robert Bell AM.

“The exhibition recreates something of the world from a hundred years ago and this is the chance for modern audiences to understand this part of history,” he continued.

The Ballets Russes (or Russian Ballet) revolutionised ballet with its sensational fusion of art, movement and music. Visitors to the exhibition can trace the story of the Ballet Russes as they wander through the 150 exquisite costumes and accessories which will largely be presented on mannequins in three dimensions. The costumes – made of brightly coloured and quite elaborate silks, velvets, embroidery, appliqué and hand painting– demonstrate the visual richness of the original productions.

 The sensory spectacle that was the Ballets Russes will be brought back to life with original design drawings for costumes and stage scenery, programs and posters, film and photography from 34 productions between 1909 and 1940.

 Visitors can immerse themselves in the Ballets Russes as a total art form with a diverse range of experiences in the exhibition including a film showing original footage of performances featuring costumes from the exhibition, and music playing by some of the top composers of the era.

 For families, the themed Family Activity Room will interest children with dress-ups and paper design activities, and there’s also a fun Children’s Trail to keep them busy. Special Children’s theatre performances are planned for February and March.  Adult and Children’s audio tours are also available.

 Throughout Summer the NGA will offer a series of public programs around the exhibition including the Sunset Sessions, free public performances, film screenings and talks, the Verve Cliquot Sculpture Garden Bar on Friday nights, and extended opening hours until 7pm on Saturdays throughout the exhibition. And of course there’s the themed NGA Shop to stock up on goodies!

 This fabulous exhibition is another great reason to visit the Gallery and check out the ‘New Look’ building which opened last month. Visitors can experience 11 new indigenous galleries, James Turrell’s outdoor Skyspace installation, the new NGA Shop and Sidewalk Café – the perfect sunny spot to sit and people-watch at the Gallery.

Accommodation packages to Canberra are available now via www.visitcanberra.com.au or by calling the Canberra and Region Visitors Centre on 1300 554 114. Exhibition tickets are now on sale and can be purchased online at www.nga.gov.au or at the NGA front desk. Ballets Russes: the art of costume is on show at the NGA from 10 December 2010 until 20 March 2011.

Image caption: Léon Baskt Tunic from costume for the Blue God c 1912 from Le Dieu Bleu
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, purchased 1987

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