Performing Arts

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Performing arts, such as dance, theater, music, and acrobatics, have long been favorite subjects for visual artists. Plays provided dramatic narrative content for Greek vases in antiquity, troubadours enlivened tapestries and illuminated manuscripts during the Middle Ages, and actors from the Kabuki theater populated Japanese prints during the 18th century. In their effort to depict modern urban life, the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists painted scenes of cabarets and concert halls—from Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s raucous crowds at the Moulin Rouge to Mary Cassatt’s high society operagoers. Many visual artists have also collaborated with performing arts productions. Pablo Picasso designed costumes for Erik Satie’s 1917 ballet Parade, and more recently William Kentridge has designed and directed new stagings of operas like Mozart’s The Magic Flute.

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