“[Parade] is a scenic poem transposed by the innovative musician Erik Satie into astonishingly expressive music, so clear and simple that it seems to reflect the marvelously lucid spirit of France. The cubist painter Picasso and the most daring of today’s choreographers, Léonide Massine, have here consummately achieved, for the first time, that alliance between painting and dance, between the plastic and mimetic arts, that is a herald of the more comprehensive art to come... This new alliance — I say new because until now scenery and costumes were linked only by factitious bonds — has given rise, in Parade, to a kind of surrealism, which I consider to be the point of departure for a whole series of Manifestations of the New Spirit that is making itself felt today and that will certainly appeal to our best minds.” — Guillaume Apollinaire, from the program notes to the ballet Parade (translation from Tracey A. Doyle, “Erik Satie’s Ballet Parade: An Arrangement for Woodwind Quintet and Percussion with Historical Summary” (doctoral dissertation, Louisiana State University 2005)).
A BEAUTIFUL AND COLORFUL ARTIFACT BRINGING TOGETHER THE GREAT NAMES OF THE EARLY TWENTIETH CENTURY PARISIAN AVANT-GARDE: THE PROGRAM FOR THE MAY 1917 SEASON OF DIAGHILEV’S “BALLET RUSSES” — A SEASON THAT INCLUDED THE PREMIERE OF THE BALLET "PARADE" (SCENARIO BY JEAN COCTEAU; CHOREOGRAPHY BY LÉONIDE MASSINE; SCORE BY ERIK SATIE) — WITH MAGNIFICENT ILLUSTRATIONS OF PICASSO’S COSTUME DESIGNS AFTER PICASSO’S OWN WATER-COLORS, AND PROGRAM NOTES BY GUILLAUME APOLLINAIRE THAT MARK THE FIRST APPEARANCE OF THE WORD “SURREALISM”.
In Woody Allen’s fantasy-comedy “Midnight in Paris,” an unhappy screenwriter visiting France in 2010 finds that every night at midnight, he is transported back in time from his hotel room to the Paris of the 1920s (and is returned to his present-day purgatory, like the ghost of King Hamlet, at cock’s-crow). During his nocturnal visits to the 1920s, he meets Cole Porter, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Jean Cocteau, Josephine Baker, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Picasso, Dalí, Man Ray, Buñuel, and others. The somewhat surrealistic effect produced by the privilege conferred on Allen’s time-traveler — that of encountering, all at once, the concentrated distillation of an entire era — is also created by the item offered here, which brings together, in one document, a roll call of the Parisian avant-garde of a decade earlier. It is the program for the May 1917 season of Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, a season that included the premiere of the revolutionary ballet Parade, with a scenario by Jean Cocteau, Cubist designs for the costumes, set, and curtain by Picasso, and music composed by Erik Satie, incorporating ragtime themes and (at Cocteau’s insistence) orchestrated for, among other instruments, typewriter, foghorn, pistol, and bottles (actually, an instrument called a “bouteillophone,” described and illustrated in Caroline Potter, “Erik Satie: A Parisian Composer and His World” (2016), at pages 77-79). A great deal of fascinating material concerning the ballet, the production, the set design, and the music can be found in Doyle, op cit., which is available online at the LSU Digital Commons website.
Like most revolutionary works, Parade was not uniformly welcomed. In a retrospective published in The Musical Times for August 1, 1919, anticipating a production of the ballet in London that was subsequently canceled, Norman Peterkin noted that the premiere had “caused a veritable tumult, and there was almost a riot in the theatre. In the end, however, enthusiastic applause silenced the hisses and cat-calls of the objecting faction... The Paris critics did not like the dresses, and said so in unambiguous terms... The curtain and scenery for the production do not appear to have aroused such violent feelings as the costumes did, the Paris public probably being inured by Picasso’s pictures exhibited there from time to time.”
Satie was so offended by a hostile review of the ballet by the critic Jean Poueigh that he sent him “a postcard three days after [the] review appeared, accusing him of being ‘an arsehole — I daresay an unmusical arsehole.’ This missive, together with two other postcards using similar language and sentiments (and written in similar florid calligraphy), prompted Poueigh to sue Satie for libel... Several artists spoke in Satie’s defence as character witnesses at his trial... but he was convicted, sentenced to a week in prison and required to pay damages of 1000 francs...” Thanks to the intervention of influential supporters, the sentence was suspended, and Satie apparently never paid the damages.
The program includes two striking pochoir costume illustrations after water-colors by Picasso, additional costume illustrations by Léon Bakst, and an essay by poet, playwright, and critic Guillaume Apollinaire (see quotation above), which introduced to the world the word “surrealism” — a word that provided a ready-made trade-name for an artistic movement that did not appear itself until some three years after Parade’s premiere. (In a letter to the critic Paul Dermée, Apollinaire explained that he had adopted the term in preference to “supernaturalism, which [he] first used.” Apollinaire is also responsible for another important coinage — “Cubism.”)
Description of this copy:
-The printed sur-wrapper headed “Programme des Ballets Russes,” with illustration by Picasso
-The printed wrapper with the heading “Mai 1917: Les Ballets Russes a Paris, Représentations Exceptionelles avec le gracieux Concours des Artistes de M. Serge de Diaghilew,” with sketch (“croquis”) by André Éduoard Marty, the noted Art Deco illustrator and costume and set designer.
-Thirty additional leaves comprising: (a) six leaves with advertisements, a patron list, and photographs; (b) the cover of “Programmes des Ballets Russes”, with costume illustration after a water-color (“aquarelle”) by Picasso, titled “Costume de Chinois de ballet ‘PARADE’”; and (c) the program itself, including a list of performances scheduled for May 11 through 23; another costume illustration after an aquarelle by Picasso, titled “Costume d’acrobate du ballet ‘PARADE’”; program notes for Parade by Guillaume Apollinaire, titled “‘Parade’ et l’Esprit nouveau”; an essay by Léon Bakst (Russian painter and scene and costume designer for the Ballets Russes), titled “Chorégraphie et Décors des Nouveaux Ballets Russes”; drawings and photographs of members of company and others (including a drawing of Picasso by Bakst, and of Igor Stravinski by Picasso); an essay “Les Ballets Russes depuis la Guerre,” by Michael George-Michel (French painter, journalist, novelist, exhibition curator, and “artistic counselor” of the Ballets Russes); cast lists and summaries of the various works to be performed in May 1917; two costume illustrations after aquarelles by Léon Bakst; and numerous advertisements, including one for Michel Georges-Michel’s novel “l’Assassinat du Président Roosevelt: Roman de Bonne Humeur,” with a delightful caricature of TR.
The sur-wrapper (which is rarely included on surviving copies of the program) has some tape remnants and significant chips and wear at the edges, affecting the Picasso illustration only slightly (see photograph); the other leaves are in quite good condition.
The item is made up of large folios printed on two types of paper, folded in half and originally bound together at the fold with a thick metallized string. There has been some separation at the folds. Each leaf (half-folio) measures approximately 245x315mm.Because of the fragile nature of the paper, this copy has been treated by a professional conservationist to prevent further deterioration. Splits at the fold were mended, and each folio was separately encapsulated in plastic (removable) to limit damage from handling and from exposure to the atmosphere. The encapsulated folios were then re-tied with the original string. The whole is offered in an archival cardboard pamphlet binder, with a four flap wrapper and paper spine label.
Paris: Théatre du Chatelet; Maurice de Brunoff, ed., 1917. Folio (245x315mm), original wrappers. With preservation and condition as described above. A magnificent monument to the Parisian artistic world of the 1910s and 1920s. SCARCE.
Price: $9,000 .