Ο Ρώσος κριτικός Τέχνης Sergei Diaghilev έχει σήμερα την τιμητική του, αφού η Google του αφιερώνει το σημερινό της doodle, με αφορμή τα 145 χρόνια από τη γέννησή του.
Sergei Diaghilev was a gay impresario. First aspiring to be a composer (it seems that he was terrible) and then a painter (he had neither vision nor aptitude), he finally found his true calling and became an impresario in 1895. In 1909, despite a complete lack of dance training, he created the Ballets Russes, which took Europe by storm in the 1910s. Gay French poet and playwright Jean Cocteau had his first theatrical employment with the Ballets Russes, working with gay French composer Erik Satie on the 1917 ballet Parade.
In Russia he is also known as the mastermind behind the World of Art - a group of artists, a series of regular exhibits, and a journal. Diaghilev organized and promoted the World of Art group during his liaison with his cousin, the painter Dmitry (Dima) Filosofov, who was his first lover. Their relation lasted from 1890 to 1905.
Filosofov eventually left Diaghilev, and the latter's meeting with the dancer Vaslav Nijinsky then 19 years old, sealed both men's fates. In their five year love relation, Diaghilev placed Nijinsky at the center of such masterpieces as Stravinsky's Petrushka and Rite of Spring, Debussy's Afternoon of a Faun, and Ravel's Daphnis and Cloe. Their relationship lasted to 1912.
Diaghilev's third lover - as well as choreographer and principal dancer - was Leonide Massine. Their relation lasted from 1914 to1921. Although Diaghilev lost all three of these lovers to women, he kept on trying. In his 50s, he had relationships with several young men - all dancers or in the arts; among them were gay British dancer Anton Dolin and gay Russian dancer Sergei Lifar (1905-?). A biography of Diaghilev by Douglas Turnbaugh is forthcoming.
Sergei Diaghilev was a crucial figure in the istory of the arts i the 20th century, a dinamic and dominant personality. Appointed assistant to the princely director of the Imperial Theatre, he was opposed in his aims for it by the conservative old guard. Czar Nicholas II was rather sympathetic, but he was a weak man; support failed and Diaghilev went abroad.
It is hardly impossible to do justice to all that he accomplished, and difficult to define in essence, for it touched the arts at so many points, while his genius was very individual. In one vay a great improvvisatore, in another he was a masterful entrepreneur; he was a marvellous talent-spotter, who gave himself to the task of educatingwhat he had discovered.
Even here what he did was more subtle; ordinary people thought that he was imposing himself on his creations - Nijinsky, Massine, Lifar - but not so: he imposed upon them the task of realizing themselves, of fulfilling their own gifts.
Even in his love-life there was this paradox, He was in love successfully with each of these creations of his; but he was in love with them for the purpose of their art. He was both ruthless and tender-hearted, but the ruthlessness was that of the artist: when each had achieved his fulfillment in art, and had nothing to offer, Diaghilev passed on to the next who had. This led to some heartaches and- in the case of Nijinsky - tragedy.
Love affairs between men were familiar enough in aristocratic circles in Russia, without the complexes aroused in Western society. At ninetten Diagilev began his long fifteen-year relationship vith Filosofov, both of them distinguished, tall, handsome.It was from him, the feminine partner, that Diaghilev gained his introduction to the arts. The partnership broke down over a student in whom both were interested.
Vaslav Nijinsky was aleady considered a phenomenon at the Imperial Ballet school before he was taken up by Diaghilev, who fell in love with the marvellous dancer, but this was a necessary condition of all the work he was prepared to put into him. Nijinsky was backward and ineducated; he was naturally responsive to music, but he knew nothing aboutpictures, visual art, scenic effects.
Diaghilev lived with him, took him everywhere, to picture galleries, museums, saw to his reading, his diet and well-being. In the course of it he possessed him, and walled him off the world; but Nijinsky needed to be possessed.
Of this relationship it has been said, "their union could produce no children, but it would give birth to marterpieces - and change the history of the dance, of music, and of painting throughout the world". After all, anyone can produce children - all too easily come by; animals have no difficulty in proliferating.
On a journey without Diaghilev to dance in South America, he was captured by a woman in love with him and who married him. Though he carried on for some years, he could not carry the burden of dancing and choreography without diaghilev. He never danced again after the age of twenty-nine; he lived to be older than Diaghilev, but spent the last thirty years of his life in an asylum.
Diaghilev was already in love with Massine before he lost Nijinsky - one thing does not exclude another - but his relationship with Massine was essentially with the choreographer. Massine had a mind of his own and new ideas to offer; this meant happier times for Diaghilev with him, but it also meant more active conflict. The relationship lasted for seven years. Then Massine married and was at once dismissed from the company. He too tried to come back, after failing on his own: he was not accepted.
Serge Lifar, in his reminiscences, tells what it was like to be loved by Diaghilev. Lifar had a fixation on Diaghilev and hoped to attract his attention. Lifar worked out of hours to improve his dancing, buth when Diaghilev spoke to him he was petrified. He was already in love with the master. Slim and beautiful, an easy temperament, Lifar was taken up and made the favourite he had always hoped to be.
A. L. Rowse: Homosexuals in history