La Boutique Fantasque (the magic toy shop)

 

48" x 62" x 2"

antique frame, 1926 German toy catalog, glass glitter

 

Based on an earlier German ballet, Die Puppenfee ("The Fairy Doll"), La Boutique Fantasque was a ballet written and choreographed by Leonide Massine, with music by Respighi, based on piano pieces by Rossini, and sets and costumes by Andre Derain… It’s world premiere in London 1919 was performed by Diaghilev"s Ballets Russes, staring Massine. The story, in which all the toys in the shop magically come to life, has been compared to Hans Christian Andersen’s story, The Steadfast Tin Soldier.

 

I had been very taken with the plight of German toy manufacturing after WWI. These towns in the Thuringia area had been famous for making some of he world’s most beautiful toys. The collapse of the German economy post WWI required even children in these communities to work at making these toys in an effort to keep from starving. This economic climate we now know was a catalyst for the growth of National Socialism and the horrors that followed. And looking back I’ve been so struck at how such symbols of tender innocence were affected by the grand design of the tragedy of the 20th century.