Mark Ryden’s Stage Confections at Paul Kasmin Gallery
by Robin Pogrebin
Painters and choreographers have a history of collaboration; Marc Chagall designed the sets and costumes for George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins’s “Firebird” at New York City Ballet in 1945, and Marcel Dzama did the same for Justin Peck’s “The Most Incredible Thing” with City Ballet last year.
Now, the pop-surrealist artist Mark Ryden has designed the backdrops, props and costumes for Alexei Ratmansky’s “Whipped Cream,” which will have its New York premiere with American Ballet Theater at the Metropolitan Opera House on Monday, May 22. In tandem, the Paul Kasmin Gallery, which represents Mr. Ryden, is presenting an exhibition of drawings, sketches and paintings created for the production.
“Whipped Cream” adapts a 1924 ballet by the composer Richard Strauss in which a boy grows delirious after overdoing confections that come to life. In “Mark Ryden: The Art of Whipped Cream,” the artist explores “the darker undercurrents of sweetness,” the gallery says, “from its sugary excesses to the intoxicating effects of overindulgence.” Mr. Ryden, whose paintings have featured fairy-tale creatures, historical figures and pop culture icons, here turns his attention to cupcakes, candy jars and cocoa tins.