Why collect Russian stage designs? Why write about them? These questions are not rhetorical or idly academic. They have real historical, intellectual, and commercial relevance. Answers may vary, but surely a primary response must be that, quite simply, Russian stage designs are immensely pleasing to the eye. They vibrate, and scintillate with color, texture and movement.
Furthermore, through their daring inventions, Russian artists of the first thirty years of the 20th century transformed, profoundly and permanently, our perception of stage design - and hence of the theater. They belonged to an extraordinarily creative generation of impresarios, dancers, actors, patrons, and critics who inspired or at least made a major contribution to the international renaissance of the art of the stage, and in particular areas, e.g. the teaching and performing of ballet, their influence is still present today.
However, in spite of the many published commentaries on the Russian theater, in spite of the autobiographies and biographies of its leading representatives, and in spite of the scholarly appreciations of its various components (ballet, drama, opera), the subject of stage design in Russia has yet to be explored in all its manifestations.
Each work presented here is documented as fully as possible, and includes curatorial data, provenance index, and references to relevant published sources, exhibitions; and variants such as copies and preliminary drawings. The catalogue raisonné addresses the issues of attribution, identification of stage production, and date of execution and adduces evidence in the form of bibliographical, archival, and photographic data, expert opinion, and circumstantial evidence in order to support assumptions and conclusions.