Collection of 61 Invitation Cards to the Bal des Quat'z'Arts, Paris, 1907-1966
by Bal des Quat'z'Arts.-
61 invitation cards and posters of various sizes, ranging from approx. 6" x 6" to 15 3/4" x 11 13/16", to the notorious annual costume ball (1892-1966) produced by and for students from the four divisions of the École Nationale des Beaux-Arts de Paris (Architecture, Painting, Sculpture, and Engraving), each lavishly illustrated by an artist or master from one of the ateliers with a representation of the year's unique theme, most exotic and suggestive interpretations of historical, literary or foreign sources. Depicting decorative and figurative scenes, involving various artistic printmaking techniques including etching, engraving, letterpress, embossing, all in color, some folding, most with original perforated ticket coupons attached. Paris (Bal des Quat'z'Arts) 1907-1966. A superb collection of these rare and visually dazzling invitations to the scandalous annual Parisian artists' bacchanal. Entrance was strictly by invitation and tickets, always in high demand, carried the name of the guest, the stamp of his atelier, and the signatures of the Bal's committee. Guests were admitted in period costume only (warnings on the card read "Le comite sera impitoyable pour tout costume qui ne serait pas de l'epoque") and participated in a competitive parade and series of musical tableaux and hours of dancing that led inevitably to a wild public processesion through Montmarte or the Latin Quarter. Nudity was expected, though early invitations instructed "Le nu est rigoureusement interdit", replaced later with the more formal "Le comite decline sa responsabilite des pour suites que pourrait entrainer l'exhibition du nu sur la voie publique." The erotic designs representing themes such as "Nuit de Schéhérazade"; "Les Barbares envahissent la Gaule"; "La Fête du Soleil chez les Incas"; "Genghis Khan: Le Sac de Boukhara par les Mongols"; and "La Reine de Saba" make liberal use of every orientalist and exoticist stereptype, they are also a tour-de-force of the evolution of continental artistic and decorative styles, from Art Nouveau to modernist appropriation of primitivism and, eventually, reflect the rising influence of 1960s psychadelia. This collection comprised of examples from 1907, 1908, 1909, 1910, 1912, 1913, 1920 (2 variants), 1921, 1922, 1923 (2 variants), 1924 (2 variants), 1925 (2 variants), 1926, 1927, 1928 (2 variants + 1 ticket stub), 1929 (2 variants), 1930 (2 variants), 1931 (2 variants), 1932, 1933 (2 variants), 1934 (2 variants), 1937, 1938, 1946, 1947 (2 variants), 1948, 1949, 1950 (2 variants + 1 affiche unknown to the Bal des Quat'z'Arts Association), 1951 (2 variants), 1952 (2 variants + 1 affiche), 1953 (2 variants), 1954, 1955 (2 variants), 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1964/65 (2 variants), 1966. Lacking examples from 1892-1906, 1914, 1935-36, 1939, 1961. (Inventory #: 47826)
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