Curated by Kerry Oliver-Smith
Organized by the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, University of Florida
Vaslav Nijinsky (1889–1950) was one of the most celebrated dancer-choreographers of the twentieth century. A legendary performer with Serge de Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes and indisputably the greatest male dancer of his era, he choreographed four great ballets—including Debussy’s L’Après-midi d’un Faune and Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps—and worked closely with Cocteau, Ravel, and Bakst.
As no film of Nijinsky’s performances exists, his genius as a dancer is known to the world only through personal accounts by those who saw him perform. Yet Nijinsky’s own words—a series of detailed diaries—provide the best window available onto the artist’s intense, creative spirit. Now that Nijinsky’s complete diaries have been published for the first time in English, his artistry is accessible to a whole new audience.
The Vaslav Nijinsky: God of Dance exhibition is drawn from the Nijinsky Archives. It is the largest single body of artwork by and about Nijinsky, and the only exhibition of its kind ever assembled for tour. Supported by quotes from the diaries, the over 170 objects construct an intimate portrait of both the performer and the man. Included are photographs, drawings, costumes, documents, letters, and personal effects.
Also included is the lesser-known body of works on paper created by Nijinsky from 1918 to 1919, works that reveal many of the aesthetic concerns and motifs reflected in his revolutionary approach to dance. The noted art historian Herbert Read wrote in the preface to the catalogue for the 1937 showing of the work in London, “These drawings have a general characteristic which immediately suggests the fully conscious art of Nijinsky—his ballets. Their rhythm is a dancing rhythm.” These compelling works may also give a glimpse into the debilitating mental illness that ended Nijinsky’s dancing career, necessitating an isolation that only increased Nijinsky’s mystique and reputation as a transcendent “god of dance.”
The Estate of Vaslav Nijinsky is represented by Curatorial Assistance.
NUMBER OF WORKS:
September 1997 - May 2003
Publication, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1999
The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts | New York, NY
(February 13 - May 3, 2003)
Fundacion Bancaja | Valencia, Spain
(July 16 - September 29, 2002)
Philharmonic Center for the Arts | Naples, FL
(January 26 - March 14, 1998)
Charles and Emma Frye Museum | Seattle, WA
(September 26 - November 16, 1997)