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Rouge et Noir

The Ballet Russe Collection

© 2001 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Symphonic ballet choreographed by Leonide Massine.
Music by Dimitri Shostakovich (Symphony #1).
Decor by Henri Matisse.
Premiere: Monte Carlo, May 11, 1939, by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.

...In Paris that June the title was changed to L'Etrange Farandole, reportedly to acknowledge that Matisse was known to sing a farandole as he painted, but the original title was restored when the company reached America. Massine had wanted to collaborate with Matisse as early as 1937, Matisse proposing a 'vast mural in motion'. Matisse had the idea of interpreting Shostakovitch in terms of five colors to which Massine assigned allegorical significance: white (man and woman), yellow (wickedness), blue (nature), red (materialism), and black (violence). The designs consisted of a space all dominated by an arch, while the dancers wore colored all-over tights. Grace Robert pronounced the results 'extraordinarily effective scenically...The groups formed and came apart, making wonderful blocks of color like an abstract painting set in motion.' But Robert Sabin was reminded only of a 'Walpurgis night in winter underwear'.

Jack Anderson, The One and Only: The Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo

The only remaining scenery in our collection are the two arches; there are no indications as to how they were supposed to fit together, nor whether there was any backdrop or background or other scenic elements. The image above has been reconstructed to the best of our imagination to fit Jack Anderson's description in the quote above. Below are the pictures of the two individual semi-arches.

Stage Left Arch

Stage Right Arch

Reproduction, including downloading of Matisse' works is prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without the express written permission of Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.