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Sale 2511 Lot 91
"Decor Musical." Design for a neo-Roman installation for the lobby of the Avery Memorial Theater on the occasion of the first annual Hartford Festival, February of 1936; this design is among the earliest set designs by Berman. Ink, watercolor, and gouache on paper. 216x318 mm; 8 1/2x12 1/2 inches. Titled in lower margin "Decor Musical pour Hartford Festival," initialled and dated in lower right. Sketches on verso. Archivally matted; framed.
Estimate $2,500 - 3,500
In 1936, A. Everett "Chick" Austin, the revolutionary Director of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, hosted the first annual Hartford Festival. As a celebration of Modernism, the festival exhibited nearly 400 paintings, hosted a Balanchine ballet, and a Stravinsky chorale. At the behest of Austin, Berman designed numerous set for the festival -- this was Berman's very first foray into the world of theater.
Just a few short years later, Berman's theater designs were featured in the one-man retrospective "The Theater of Eugene Berman" at the Museum of Modern Art with an accompanying monograph by George Amberg, then Curator of the Museum's Department of Theater Arts.
The monogram begins, "Ten years ago, at the Hartford Festival, Eugene Berman was presented to a limited audience for the first time as a stage designer. Today his theatrical work is known to countless spectators in this country and abroad, and one cannot imagine the American ballet stage without his brilliant contributions. . . . He has established himself as one of the few modern painters who has an authentic professional standing on the stage." -- "The Theater of Eugene Berman," Museum of Modern Art, 1936.