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Theatrical Scenic Art
570 artworks, 86 artists
Theatrical scenic painting or scenography, stagecraft is a type of artistic creation dedicated to making a holistic and unique image of a theatrical performance. This includes the development of stage decorations, acting costumes, props, stage lighting instructions, and the use of stage mechanisms. The production designer of the performance must have a wide variety of knowledge to embody a single deep space within the stage. The synthetism of the stagecraft results from its versatility and variety of tasks to be solved.
The prototype of the modern theatre appeared in Ancient Greece. Its structure assumed three permanent zones: a tent for actors (skena), spectators’ seats (theatron) and the space where the action took place (orchestra). The actors used large masks that had different emotional expressions for the farthest viewers to see. The scene was made by constructing three-door decorations, while their design became more and more complex over time. The curtain appeared in the theatres of ancient Rome, which made it possible to change the scenery unnoticed by the audience.
In Christian times, elements of theatrical action became more intimate, they became part of rituals and folk customs addressed to the pagan forces of nature — the feasts of season changes, the harvest festivals, carnivals, ritual dances, colorful costume rituals. The church used theatrical techniques to create its own celebrations, where the entire temple became the stage, both inside and out.
The Renaissance epoch brought new stream of life into the theatre, and Italy became its center. Great artists, such as Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Peruzzi, Bramante, took an active part in the performance design using the principles of perspective. In the 16th century, the mass creation of covered buildings for theatres began, new elements were introduced — a curtain stage, movable scenery, tiered seats for spectators. The performance moved to the streets, mobile puppet theatres appeared.
In Russia, the first court theatre appeared in 1672. The scenography has always presented a special challenge for artists and appealed for the creative vision of the task. The performance success and, therefore, that of the entire theatre troupe depended on its decision. In the middle of the 19th century, many performances of the Maly, Bolshoi and New theatres, as well as Sergei Diaghilev’s Russian Seasons and Mikhail Lentovsky’s entreprise were designed by the famous Karl Waltz. Many famous Russian artists and painters worked in scenic painting — Konstantin Korovin and Léon Bakst, Erté and Boris Kustodiev, Ivan Bilibin and Apollinary Vasnetsov, Aleksandr Golovin, Aleksandr Vasilyev.