PAVEL TCHELITCHEWRussian 1898 - 1957

Executed circa 1922, the present work on paper is almost certainly a preparatory stage design for a production at Der Blaue Vogel (The Blue Bird), the Russian émigré cabaret in Charlottenburg, Berlin that opened in 1921 and where Tchelitchew found employment from 1921-23. In large part thanks to Tchelitchew's innovative designs, Der Blaue Vogel quickly established itself as one of the most innovative cabarets in Berlin. Featuring stunning set and costume designs that drew on many of the styles in vogue at the time, from Expressionism to Futurism to the post-War call to return to Classicism, the Charlottenburg cabaret's reputation for promoting the avant-garde spread far and wide.
Provenance:
Estate of the artist
Richard Nathanson, London
Private collection, USA

Exhibited:
London, The Alpine Club, Pavel Tchelitchew: A Collection of Theatre Designs, c. 1919-1923 (arranged by Richard Nathanson), 13-22 December 1976, no. 13


PAVEL TCHELITCHEWRussian 1898 - 1957

Born in Russia, Tchelitchew had been attracted to ballet and theatre from an early age. A painter throughout his life, he executed his first stage designs in Kiev when he was 21 years old. But forced to flee as the Russian Revolution took hold, he journeyed first to Istanbul where he produced designs for the ballet, before arriving in Germany. Home to hundreds of thousands of newly displaced Russians, other leading artists and intellectuals who passed through Berlin at this time included Maxim Gorky, El Lissitzky, Boris Pasternak, Naum Gabo, Anton Pevsner and Alexander Archipenko.

Arriving in Paris in 1923, Tchelitchew was readily embraced by the artistic community, in particular Gertrude Stein, who introduced him to Edith Sitwell. There too he collaborated with the leading creative minds, including Leonide Massine, George Balanchine and Sergei Diaghilev, working on set and costume designs for many of the greatest ballets of the day. In 1936 he moved with his partner Charles Henry Ford to New York, where he continued to work for the ballet and theatre and also painted. Hide and Seek, painted in 1940-42 and widely regarded as his most significant painting, is in the Museum of Modern Art, New York.