We met in our lecture room at the pension and began with an overview of the themes of the course. Pairing images of artistic work with the course readings
and discussion, the morning lecture reviewed overall themes and concepts of
Modernism. Referencing specific art, the group located and discussed ideas and
theories that frame the dynamic innovations defining this movement. The resources of the city will guide our understanding of the significant role Paris played in the foundation of Modernism.
In the afternoon we had a lecture on the iconic Ballets Russes dance company.
Working in Paris at the beginning of the 20th century, this company and its
groundbreaking art serve as an avenue to explore themes of modernity. Under
the guidance of impresario Serge Diaghilev, choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky and
composer Igor Stravinsky developed “Le Sacre du Printemps,” a controversial and
revolutionary collaboration. The Ballets Russes attracted artists from every art
form: Matisse, Picasso, and Roerich designed costumes and Stravinsky composed
seminal music scores, among others.
In the evening we headed out to Montmarte for a performance, stopping on the
way to take in the view from the top of Sacré-Cœur. The performance, “The Animals and Children Took to the Streets” was created and performed by the British theatre
company 1927. This theatrical production used projected film, animation, and music to create an imaginative and politically charged dystopia. The performance surprised and delighted, as it asked difficult questions about the disparities in modern day urban cities with inventive technological devices, animation, and charming actors.