Pavel Tchelitchew worked in a modern Cubist-Futurist style before adopting a dream-like realism favored by the French Neo-Romantics. Combining elements of Surrealism and Russian Symbolist painting, he sought to create “celestial physiognomies” (visual representations of the spirit, cardinal humors, or temperaments).
Tchelitchew’s transcendent ideas also permeated his innovative theatrical designs. Among his most important collaborators was the choreographer George Balanchine. Although this design bears a reference to their partnership on the ballet L’Errante (Paris, 1933), the design is closer to the “Tree Spirit” costumes worn in Balanchine’s ballet Orpheus and Eurydice (Metropolitan Opera, New York, 1936). The branch- or nerve-like pattern also is seen in his designs for the choreographer’s Concerto (Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires, 1942) and The Cave of Sleep (1941, unproduced).
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art’s collection includes another possible costume design by Tchelitchew (Eskenazi Museum of Art 2009.15).
American (born Russia), 1898–1957
Errante [Costume design for George Balanchine’s ballet *Orpheus and Eurydice*]
Black and brown ink and brown ink wash on paper
Image/sheet: 15 ¼ x 13 ½ in. (38.7 x 34.3 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Estate of Joseph F. McCrindle, 2009.23
Large image not available.