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arts

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Set and Costume Design  
 
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Messel also designed the Royal Ballet's 1959 production of The Sleeping Beauty. In this work, which borrowed subtle nuances from the paintings of Antoine Watteau, the designer's innate sense of pomp and grandeur is evident. His work in opera at Glyndebourne and the Met was also notable.

In 1935 gay director George Cukor invited Messel to design the sets for Romeo and Juliet. Although Messel did not regard these designs as entirely successful, he subsequently designed numerous other Hollywood films, including The Thief of Baghdad (1940) and Suddenly, Last Summer (1959).

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Cecil Beaton

Cecil Beaton (1904-1980) was Messel's principal rival as leading British designer. Although he is best known as a society photographer, after World War II Beaton designed extravagant stage sets and costumes for Broadway and London theater as well as opera and film.

Beaton loved the simplicity of ballet, and his design for Apparitions (1947) for the Royal Ballet bore the hallmarks of Tchelitchew's influence, containing as it did symbolic lamps, harps, and chandeliers.

Beaton's design for Lawrence Olivier's production The School for Scandal (1947) was also notable. He won a Tony Award (1957) for his costumes for the Broadway production of My Fair Lady, and an Academy Award (1958) for sets and costumes for the film Gigi.

George James Hopkins

In 1916, the young George James Hopkins (1896-1988) was hired to do costumes for Theda Bara and set designs for her films. His set designs helped elevate the status of the profession in Hollywood, raising design beyond what was previously regarded as "glorified carpentry."

Hopkins executed a striking peacock throne for Bara's infamous film Salome (1919). The Soul of Youth (1920) included scenes set in a male whorehouse. The Furnace (1920) included an elaborate nude scene in hell.

But Hopkins' career was stalled for a while by an unresolved scandal involving his lover William Desmond Taylor, who died in 1922. In 1935 Hopkins joined Warner Brothers studios and went on to do the set designs for Casablanca (1942) and Mildred Pierce (1945), among others. He won awards for A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), My Fair Lady (1964), and Hello, Dolly (1969).

Robert Colquhoun and Robert McBryde

Scottish artists Robert Colquhoun (1914-1962) and Robert MacBryde (1913-1966), a gay couple known as "the two Roberts," lived and worked together after meeting at the Glasgow School of Art in 1932.

Colquhoun's work was the stronger of the two, being influenced by Wyndham Lewis and having an identifiable existentialist tone. They were close contemporaries of Francis Bacon, but were associated with the Neo-Romantic movement in England. They designed frequently for the stage and the lyric theater. Ken Russell made a short film for British television, "Two Painters" (1959), about their work.

Franco Zeffirelli

Italian Franco Zeffirelli (b. 1923) studied architecture and acting as a young man. Under the tutelage of director Luchino Visconti, for whom he did set and costume designs, he gradually made the transition from protégé to hugely successful film and opera director.

His La Traviata (1958) in Dallas is remembered largely because it featured a definitive Violetta in Maria Callas--the production's sole raison d'être. He also directed Joan Sutherland in a memorable Lucia di Lammermoor (1959).

Zeffirelli was nominated for a Tony award for his scenic designs for the Lady of the Camellias (1963). His film Romeo and Juliet (1968) is remembered for its casting of unknown young actors to give authenticity and a fresh view to the production, as well as for its lush sets. His film and opera work, usually characterized by lavish and beautiful designs, still gains international attention.

Derek Jarman

Derek Jarman (1942-1994) was such a versatile artist that his work straddles many media, including gardening and political activism. However, he started out as a set designer at the Slade School of Art. His first break came when he was invited by Sir Frederick Ashton to design for the ballet Jazz Calendar (1968).

In the same year Sir John Gielgud asked him to design Don Giovanni for the English National Opera. Jarman then met director Ken Russell and designed the monstrous set for The Devils (1970). He also worked on Russell's Savage Messiah (1971).

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