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August 06 2013 6:00 AM ET
Erté (1892 – 1990)
Romain de Tirtoff was a Russian-born French artist and designer known by the pseudonym Erté, the French pronunciation of his initials, R.T. He was a diversely talented artist and designer who flourished in an array of fields, including fashion, jewelery, graphic arts, costume and set design for film, theater, and opera, and interior decor in a career that spanned nearly the entire century.
Early in life Erté was attracted to the theater, and at one point wavered between becoming a dancer or an artist. But eventually, he recalled years later, ''I came to the conclusion that I could live without dancing but could not give up my passion for painting and design.''
According to The New York Times, A major turning point in his career came in 1965, when he met Eric and Salome Estorick of Seven Arts Ltd. Seven Arts remained the exclusive agent for Erte's work until his death. When the Estoricks organized an exhibition of 170 of his works in New York in 1967, the Metropolitan Museum of Art bought the entire collection.
His work is instantly recognizable and hugely influential on many fashion artists and costume designers, like Bob Mackie. Nazimov's designs for her production of Salomé obviously were inspired by Erté's work.
If you lived through the '70s and '80s, you saw an incredible revival of a still-living artist whose control over his meticulously rendered images never wavered. He worked up until the last two weeks of his life at 97. He was fond of the pubilicty he had from his revival, and made many appearances in his celery- and lavender-colored suits with scarves and hats adding extra glamour.
Of his hallucinatory and decadent imagination he said, "I'm in a different world, a dream world that invites oblivion. People take drugs to achieve such freedom from their daily cares. I've never taken drugs. I've never needed them."
Sources: Erte.com, Wikipedia, The New York Times
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