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Work / Art

Beautiful paintings of the drunkards and typists of the Russian ballet

We’re no ballet aficionados, but we wouldn’t usually associate drunkards, typists and factory workers with the grace and poise of the discipline. However, as these beautiful gouache painting by Tatiana Bruni show, there’s much more to ballet than tutus and swan lake, with her angular figures, bold colours and sometimes grotesquely postured characters. The paintings show costume designs for Dmitri Shostakovich’s 1931 ballet The Bolt, and are going on show at London’s Gallery for Russian Arts and Design alongside a series of period photographs. The ballet itself was bold and striking in its use of real hammers, machine-inspired choreography, aerobics and acrobatics, and the costume images are equally as dynamic, inspired by “the aesthetics of agit-theatre and artist-designed propaganda posters”, according to the gallery. The sense of movement is palpable, whether in the graceful billowing dresses or the staggering legs of our brightly-coloured drunkard, working against the geometric rigidity of the style to beautiful effect.

Tatiana-bruni_--kozelkov_-costume-design-for-%e2%80%98the-bolt%e2%80%99_-1931_-courtesy-grad-and-st-petersburg-museum-of-theatre-and-music

Tatiana Bruni: Kozelkov, costume design for The Bolt, 1931
Courtesy GRAD and St Petersburg Museum of Theatre and Music

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Tatiana Bruni: The Carter, costume design for The Bolt, 1931
Courtesy GRAD and St Petersburg Museum of Theatre and Music

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Tatiana Bruni: Kozelkov’s Girlfriend, costume design for The Bolt, 1931
Courtesy GRAD and St Petersburg Museum of Theatre and Music

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Tatiana Bruni: Factory Worker, costume design for The Bolt, 1931
Courtesy GRAD and St Petersburg Museum of Theatre and Music

Tatiana-bruni_-komsomol-member_-costume-design-for-%e2%80%98the-bolt%e2%80%99_-1931_-courtesy-grad-and-st-petersburg-museum-of-theatre-and-music

Tatiana Bruni: costume design for The Bolt, 1931
Courtesy GRAD and St Petersburg Museum of Theatre and Music

Tatiana-bruni_-the-drunkard_-costume-design-for-%e2%80%98the-bolt%e2%80%99_-1931_-courtesy-grad-and-st-petersburg-museum-of-theatre-and-music

Tatiana Bruni: The Drunkard, costume design for The Bolt, 1931
Courtesy GRAD and St Petersburg Museum of Theatre and Music

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Tatiana Bruni: Olga, costume design for The Bolt, 1931
Courtesy GRAD and St Petersburg Museum of Theatre and Music

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Tatiana Bruni: The Japanese Marine, costume design for The Bolt, 1931
Courtesy GRAD and St Petersburg Museum of Theatre and Music

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Tatiana Bruni: The Terrorist, costume design for The Bolt, 1931
Courtesy GRAD and St Petersburg Museum of Theatre and Music

Tatiana-bruni_-the-typist_-costume-design-for-%e2%80%98the-bolt%e2%80%99_-1931-courtesy-grad-and-st-petersburg-museum-of-theatre-and-music

Tatiana Bruni: The Typist, costume design for The Bolt, 1931
Courtesy GRAD and St Petersburg Museum of Theatre and Music