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About the Work"In Erté's "Carnaval", three masked dancers appear in a 'costume collectif'. Erté has been credited with inventing the 'costume collectif ' which is an immense, single costume shared by a group of performers, with a single theme.
"Carnaval" is a public celebration with a parade, elements of a circus, and a street party held just before the Christian period of Lent begins. It is celebrated worldwide with well-known celebrations in Rio de Janeiro, Venice, and New Orleans. The word
"Carnaval" comes from a combination of the Latin words "caro" (meat) and "vale" (farewell), so the celebration is a time to say goodbye to the flesh, letting go of the earthly, or bodily, self for the upcoming season. Today, celebrations range from one day (the Tuesday before Lent) to several weeks.
About the Artist
Erté was born Romain de Tirtoff in St. Petersburg, Russia on November 23rd, 1892 and was raised amidst Russia's social elite. At the age of five he created an evening gown for his mother and managed to persuade the adults to craft it, they were astounded by the results. In 1912, Romain left St. Petersburg for Paris at the age of nineteen with the aim of becoming an artist. After working with Paul " Le Magnifique" Poiret on several theatrical productions Romain, still under the pseudonym of Erte, began to work more independently. He hand-crafted original costume and fashion designs for many of the era’s most renowned actresses, including Joan Crawford, Lillian Gish, Marion Davies, Anna Pavlova, Norma Shearer, and others. His masterpieces for the stage included extravagant production designs at venues such as New York’s Radio City Music Hall, the Casino de Paris, and the Paris Opera. In 1915 he began his long professional relationship with Harper's Bazaar and created 240 covers for the esteemed magazine. For 6 months in 1916, Erté simultaneously worked with Vogue as well. As a result of his highly publicized success, Erté would later be called the father of the ‘Art Deco’ movement.