Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Painting of the Day: Leonide Massine Waiting For His Cue to Go on Stage in 'On With the Dance,' 1925

Leonide Massine Waiting for His Cue to Go On Stage in "On With the Dance."
Gluck, 1925
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This behind-the scenes theatrical painting is at once intimate and distancing.  A rare look at backstage emotions, the composition also keeps the viewer at arm's length by presenting all of the figures from the back.  Here, we see the famed danseur Leonide Massine as he awaits his entrance cue in Cochran's revue, "On With the Dance," as performed at the London Pavillion in 1925. Massine's entrance marked the start of Scene Seven of the revue which had been entirely choreographed by Massine as an adaptation of Hogarth's series of paintings "A Rake's Progress."

The enchanting canvas was painted by "Gluck" (1895-1978), an artist well-known in the 1920s and 1930s for her portraits and floral paintings.  Gluck's full name was Hannah Gluckstein, however, she insisted on being known only as Gluck in order that she might distance herself from her society family.  Gluck's upper-class kin were frequently scandalized by Hannah's "bohemian" behavior.  She exclusively wore male attire, but more so they disapproved of her lesbian relationships.  

Accustomed to a sense of isolation, Gluck identified with no one artistic school or movement, and preferred to exhibit her works only in solo exhibitions, where they were displayed in a special frame she invented and patented.  This invention, known as the "Gluck frame" extended from the wall in three sections or tiers which were painted or papered to match the wall on which it hung, thus allowing the paintings to became part of the architecture of the room. 

This painting is in a white-painted Gluck frame not visible in the image.

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