Ballet Russes I August Macke Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Macke produced a number of depictions of the Ballets Russes in 1912. This ballet company was formed in Paris just three years earlier and would over time tour successfully all across the world.

The artist focused on leisure pursuits over a number of years and loved the excitement and energy of nights at the theatre and circus. Paris itself would have been the cultural centre of Europe at this point and was an essential destination for any artist looking to learn more about the newest art movements and ideas. During that period he may well have come across the likes of Brancusi, Modigliani and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. The Ballets Russes combined some of the finest innovators from across a variety of disciplines to produce one of the most significant ballet companies of the 20th century, and Macke was early to realise their brilliance by catching them in their earliest years.

The company would make use of several significant artists in order to produce designs for elements of their shows, calling on the services of the likes of Léon Bakst, Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse as they sought to provide a spectacle better than anything that had been seen before. Their location in Paris was ideal for being able to connect with these creative talents, and it was in this city that their touring shows would be planned down to the last detail. The shows also had an impact in bringing a new focus on Russian folklore across Western Europe and North America through these exciting dance routines. Macke perhaps appreciated the forward-thinking, innovative nature of this dance company, which to a certain degree matched his own desire for pushing art forwards.

There were two main aspects of the dance company which suited Macke's artistic style - firstly he was passionate about figurative art and enjoyed experimenting with different poses and arrangements of dancers during his time watching these shows. Additionally, colours used across the set were bright and bold and in line with many of the colour palettes that he was naturally drawn to within his existing work. This particular artwork was the first of many produced in and around the Russian-inspired show, with others covering a variety of mediums including watercolours, drawings and further oil paintings.