ABOVE: In emigration after 1917, Natalia
painted this witty cubo- futurist "portrait"
Sergei Diaghilev (1872-1929)
was one of the worlds great cultural impresarios.
He was one of the founders of the elegant journal Mir
iskusstva (The World of Art) that did a great deal
to make Russians acquainted with the latest developments
in Western visual art. Between 1897 and 1906 he organized
a series of major art exhibitions, showing not merely
the best in European and Russian contemporary art but
also reviving interest in the Russian eighteenth century
and in the icon. But his greatest claim to fame was the
organization of the "Russian Seasons" in Paris.
They began in the spring of 1907 with a grandiose series
of concerts. Glazunov, Rachmaninov, and Rimsky-Korsakov
conducted their own works, but the greatest success was
that of Chaliapin in excerpts by Borodin and Mussorgsky.
Even more successful were the ballet performances that
Diaghilev began in Paris in 1909. Diaghilev engaged the
greatest Russian and Western European dancers (Nijinsky,
Karsavina, Lifar), composers (Stravinsky, Poulenc, Satie),
choreographers (Fokine, Nijinsky, Lifar), and stage designers
Cocteau) of his day and, despite almost continual financial
difficulties, produced a dazzling series of collaborative
productions until his death. Probably the best
known of these ballets was Rite
of Spring (Sacre du Printemps), which debuted
in Paris in 1913.