Picasso produced this oil painting during his stay in Barcelona between June and November 1917, with the idea of presenting it at the Liceu Theatre with the ballet Parade performed by Serge de Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes.
The harlequin character – painted frequently by Picasso – appears here above a stage with a balustrade, partially covered by a large deep red curtain contrasting with the ochre flesh and the blues, greens and pinks of the typical diamond-shape clothes the character is wearing. The earthen colour of the skin and large fleshy hands reveal Picasso’s interest in giving volume to forms. The model for Harlequin was Léonide Massine (the artistic name of Leonid Feodorovic Miassin, Moscow, 1896 – Borken, Germany, 1979), the first dancer in Diaghilev’s company. (Museu de Barcelona)
Picasso told me that when he was working for the Russian Ballet, the great impresario had fallen in love with his star dancer Léonide Massine. Massine was heterosexual but ambitious, and he slept with Diaghilev to further his career. (“It was rather like going to bed with a nice fat old lady,” the dancer told one of his mistresses.) The only problem was Diaghilev’s jealousy; he tried to persuade Picasso to spy on Massine and his current girlfriend. The artist described farcical chases in and out of bedrooms, up and down staircases and elevators in the Hotel Continental, where the stars stayed; also an attempt to break up a clandestine rendezvous, which resulted in Diaghilev and Picasso driving round and round the Arc de Triomphe for most of one night.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice – John Richardson
Nota: Fico imaginando Diaghilev e Picasso perambulando pelas ruas de Paris por ciúmes atrás do gênio adolescente, parece cena extraída diretamente de Em Busca do Tempo Perdido, o que não é de todo impossível, tendo em vista que Proust foi grande admirador e frequentador do ambiente do Ballet Russo e que o cita diretamente em várias passagens do livro. De qualquer forma tudo isso foi reinterpretado em The Red Shoes onde temos uma pequena amostra do quão lunático Diaghilev podia ser, com direito a Miss Victoria Page como uma mistura de Nijinsky, Pavlova e Massine e o próprio como testemunha.
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