The National Gallery of Australia has stitched together the story of the Ballets Russes through painstaking restoration of costumes designed by Picasso and Matisse.

Ballets Russes: the Art of Costume was to take its final bow next weekend, on March 20, following its successful three-month season run. The National Gallery of Australia has now announced the exhibition’s extension until Sunday May 1.

“These costumes are the most fragile works of art in the national collection”, said Ron Radford, director of the NGA. “It will be a long time before they can be displayed again in such numbers.”

One of the most revolutionary performing arts troupes of the twentieth century, the Ballets Russes premiered Stravinsky’s The Rite of Springin 1913, sparking one of the most infamous, near-riotous responses to a public performance in history. The company was as innovative in design as in music, with the likes of Coco Chanel, Henri Matisse, and cubist painter Georges Braque creating its costumes and sets.

The National Gallery has been acquiring costumes, artists’ sketches and other materials since 1973 to form one of the world’s most extensive and varied Ballets Russes collections. The strikingly modern outfits, some just shy of a hundred years old and...

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