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Patronage II: The Western World since 1900  
 
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For many of the Ballets Russes productions between 1909 and 1921, Bakst created colorful and voluptuous costumes for both male and female dancers, and he designed equally lavish stage sets, visualizing western European fantasies of Russia and Asia. Bakst revolutionized the use of color in Western design by employing exceptionally brilliant hues of red and orange, blue and green, side by side.

Increasingly fascinated by western European art, Diaghilev sought out the services of leading avant-garde artists, and he was able to inspire collaboration among them. In 1917, he presented the première of Parade, with choreography by Léonide Massine (1896-1979), script by Jean Cocteau (1889-1963), set and costume designs by Picasso, and music by Erik Satie (1866-1925). Picasso's first public departures from Cubism, his designs incorporated found objects and references to popular art. This visual element, together with Satie's interjection of the sounds of typewriters, pistol shots, and ships' sirens into his jazz-influenced score, incited loud protests from the audience.

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Parade and other later Ballets Russes productions realized the avant-garde goal of fusion of art and life. Until Diaghilev's death in 1929, the Ballets Russes remained a vital and dynamic force in the worlds of dance and art. Numerous commentators have suggested that Diaghlilev's determination to influence the course of twentieth-century art may have been rooted in the desire to demonstrate to a homophobic world the superiority of gay male culture. His sexuality was manifested in the emphasis placed upon the voluptuous beauty of male dancers in his opulent productions.

Prominent Queer Patrons: Lincoln Kirstein

Inspired by performances of the Ballets Russes in London (1929), Lincoln Kirstein (1906-1997) became determined to promote the development of avant-garde art in the United States. As a patron, Kirstein was able to draw on financial resources inherited from both of his parents. His father was chairman of Filene's Department Store, Boston, and his mother was the daughter of a successful clothing manufacturer in Rochester, New York.

In 1927, while a student at Harvard University, he founded the influential literary magazine, Hound and Horn, which published work by Ezra Pound, John Dos Passos, and e. e. cummings, among others. Funding and editing this magazine throughout the course of its run until 1934, Kirstein also wrote theatrical and dance reviews for it.

While traveling in Europe in 1933, Kirstein was impressed by productions of the avant- garde dance company Les Ballets, and he invited founder and director George Balanchine (1904-1983) to come to the United States. The following year, the two men established the American Ballet company, as the resident dance company of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and the School of American Ballet. The arrangement of the American Ballet with the Metropolitan Opera proved unsatisfactory because the Opera would not allow Balanchine and Kirstein artistic freedom. Therefore, in 1946, Balanchine and Kirstein founded the Ballet Society, renamed the New York City Ballet in 1948. Together, Balanchine and Kirstein made this one of the most innovative dance companies in the world.

Director of the New York City Ballet until 1989, Kirstein commissioned and helped to fund its physical home: the New York State Theater building at Lincoln Center, designed in 1964 by gay architect Philip Johnson (1906-2005). Despite its conservative modernist exterior, the glittery red and gold interior recalls the imaginative and lavish backdrops of the Ballets Russes.

In addition to dance, Kirstein also was interested in the visual arts. After graduating from Harvard in 1930, he assisted in organizing exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art. In 1937, Kirstein met and fell in love with the painter Paul Cadmus (1904-99), who did not encourage his advances. In what Cadmus described as an effort to keep him close, Kirstein married the artist's sister, Fidelma Cadmus, in 1941. Although Kirstein and his wife enjoyed an amicable relationship, he continued to pursue affairs with other men. His homosexuality was an open secret in the New York art world, although he did not publicly acknowledge his sexual orientation until 1982.

Becoming the primary patron of Cadmus, Kirstein purchased many of his paintings and subsidized his living expenses. Because Cadmus's erotically charged depictions of working and middle class men provoked great controversy, he had difficulty selling his work through galleries. Kirstein's support made it possible for Cadmus to devote himself to the creation of a distinctly American form of gay male visual expression-- simultaneously modernist, naturalistic, and heroic. Profoundly admiring Renaissance art, Cadmus utilized the time-consuming technique of egg tempera, as well as classical compositions and figure poses. Such large paintings as Y.M.C.A Locker Room (1933, John P. Axelrod, Boston) and Sailors and Floosies (1938, Whitney Museum of American Art) are infused with homoerotic feeling.

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