Diaghilev (1872-1929) is a character on the scale of myth. Growing up in a minor noble family in remote Perm, as a very young man he became an influential art historian and publisher in St Petersburg. Moving soon onto a bigger stage, he became a central figure in the artistic worlds of Paris, London, Rome, Berlin and Madrid during the golden age of modern art. He lived through bankruptcy, war, revolution and exile. Furthermore he lived openly as a homosexual and his liaisons, most famously with Nijinsky, and his turbulent friendships with among others Stravinsky, Coco Chanel, Misia Sert, Prokoviev and Jean Cocteau give his life an exceptionally dramatic quality. The last biography was thirty years ago. Scheijen's biography is based on extensive research in little known archives, especially in Russia, is revelatory and brings a complex and powerful personality with boundless creative energy fully to life.
A major new biography of Serge Diaghilev, founder of the Ballets Russes, who revolutionised ballet, bringing together composers like Stravinsky and Prokoviev, dancers and choreographers like Nijinsky and Balanchine and artists like Picasso, Matisse, Bakst and Goncharova. An impresario of all the arts, he made a huge contribution to the arts of the twentieth century.
The Dutch scholar Sjeng Scheijen is an internationally acclaimed expert on Russian art and has curated several important exhibitions in London, Groningen and elsewhere. He divides his time between Amsterdam and Moscow where he is cultural attache at the Netherlands Embassy.