Colour, Costume and Movement

Have you ever considered designing costumes for the theatre?

To complement next month's Cabinets of Costume exhibition, our latest showcase display features André Levinson’s Bakst: The Story of the Artist’s Life from the Library Treasures collection. It’s a biography of Russian artist Leon Bakst, richly illustrated with his drawings and costume designs. Bakst used bright eye-catching colours for his costumes so they would be more visible on stage. Some of them are more extravagant than others, depending on the shows for which they were designed, but there is a very real sense of movement in all of them, suggesting that Bakst had a clear mental image of the dancers wearing them.

Andre Levinson, Bakst: The Story of the Artist's Life, Plate IX, Sheherazade –first eunuch, Benjamin Blom: New York, 1923.

Andre Levinson, Bakst: The Story of the Artist's Life, Plate IX, Sheherazade –first eunuch, Benjamin Blom: New York, 1923.

Alongside them, we’ve included paintings of set designs by children at Dudley Girls’ High School that form part of the Marion Richardson collection in the Archives. Richardson trained at Birmingham School of Art, becoming an art teacher in Dudley when she was only 19 years old.  She saw the children’s skill and passion in drawing from their imaginations and colourfully described her trips to the Ballets Russes in London so as they could paint the scenes she so vividly conjured up for them. Like Bakst, Richardson valued a strong sense of colour and encouraged the children to experiment with mixing their own paints, feeling this would add to the power of their artwork. 

Installation shot of our latest showcase display, 24 April 2017.

Installation shot of our latest showcase display, 24 April 2017.

If you'd like to find out more about her life and career, why not visit the Archives?