What a wonderful day of discovery! On a cold and dreary November day to find a new (for me) museum, a new artist and a new town with good restaurants! The Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton, Massachusetts, opened in 2006, is exhibiting the marvelous photographs of Emil Otto Hoppé (British, 1878-1972) of the Ballets Russes. The exhibition is sponsored by Artscope Magazine.
Hoppé, one of the most famous photographers of his day, had exclusive access to Ballets Russes, the revolutionary ballet company founded by Sergei Diaghilev in Paris, France (1909-1929). Hoppé’s 73 ballet photographs provide an eye-popping view into the balletic revolution that moved away from 19th century heavily costumed, stylized, drama-ballets to the modernism of “The Rite of Spring,” “The Firebird,” “Petrushka,” “Le Carnaval” and others. What a sensation Diaghilev and his company caused; offended patrons rioted and fled from such overt sensuality, pagan myths and barely clad dancers. Igor Stravinsky composed the music for “The Rite of Spring,” and its pulsating rhythms, erotic tonality and tempos excite listeners to this day. Music and dance have never been the same. It was a cultural revolution coinciding with Cubism, Constructivism and ultimately, Abstract Modernism.