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Erté

(French, 1892–1990)

fire dancer by erté

Erté

Fire Dancer, 1989

ladies in waiting (sc) by erté

Erté

Ladies in Waiting (SC), 1990

le masque by erté

Erté

Le Masque, 1986

le mer rouge by erté

Erté

Le Mer Rouge, 1928

letter r (the alphabet suite) by erté

Erté

Letter R (The Alphabet Suite), 1976

mediterranee by erté

Erté

Mediterranee, 1986

Biography

Timeline

1892
Born: Romain de Tirtoff in St Petersburg, Russia. The only son of an admiral in the Imperial Fleet, he was raised amidst Russia’s social elite. As a young boy, he was fascinated by the Persian miniatures he found in his father’s library. These exotic brightly patterned designs continued to be important to him and influenced the development of his style.
1906
Begins to study painting with portraitist Ilya Repin and his pupil Lossevsky.
1912
Moves to Paris and takes the name Erté, from the French pronunciation of his initials, R and T. Studies at the Académie Julian with historical painter Jean-Paul Laurens, but dislikes the regimented structure of classes and leaves after several months to become a fashion designer. Contributes sketches to Russian fashion magazine 'Damsky Mir'.
1913
Signs a contract with the famous Parisian couturier Paul Poiret. Creates costumes for his first theatrical production 'Le Minaret', featuring Mata Hari. Contributes drawings to 'La Gazette du Bon Ton', leading fashion magazine of Paris. First use of signature Erté.
1914
Produces designs for Henri Bendel and Altman’s in New York. Submits designs to 'Harper’s Bazaar'.
1915
First cover design for 'Harper’s Bazaar' published in January, beginning his 22-year collaboration with Harper’s Bazaar, during which time he creates over 240 covers for the magazine
1916
Contributes work to 'Vogue' magazine. After six months, signs a ten-year exclusive contract with 'Harper’s Bazaar'. First costume and set designs for music hall for Madame Rasmini’s Théâtre Bataclan in Paris
1917 - 1920
Creates costumes for revue 'Marvels of the Orient', starring Maurice Chevalier and Mistinguett at Théâtre Femina, Paris. First designs for Folies-Bergère. Works with Max Weldy, head of Folies-Bergère costume workshop, and learns about the architecture of the theatre and the mechanics of the stage. Erté will continue working for Folies-Bergère for the next eleven years. Costumes for Ganna Walska of Chicago Opera Company for 'La Bohème', I 'Pagliacci' and 'Faust', among others. Costume designs for the film 'Restless Sex', starring Marion Davies.
1920
Onwards. Erté dresses an extraordinary roster of opera, stage and screen stars, including Mary Garden, Josephine Baker, Marion Davies, Lillian Gish, Mata Hari and Anna Pavlova. These achievements earn him the title Father of Art Deco.
1922 - 1924
Costume and set designs for George White’s Scandals'; Irving Berlin’s 'Music Box Revue'; the Ziegfeld Follies and the Winter Garden in New York. His fashion designs appear in many publications, such as 'Harper’s Bazaar', 'La Gazette du Bon Ton', 'The Sketch', London and the 'Ladies’ Home Journal', making him one of the most widely recognized artists in the 1920s.

Exhibitions

2004
Erté/Opera & Ballets Russes/Dance: Theater Costume, Los Angeles County Museum, Los Angeles, CA (solo)
Erté, Robert Sandelson, London, UK (solo)
2001
Erté Fascino e Seduzione Deco, Museo del Corso, Rome, Italy (solo)
1997
Follies and Fantasies, Grosvenor Gallery, London, UK (solo)
1988
Exhibition of Erté’s American productions, Grosvenor Gallery, London, UK (solo)
1987
Major 95th Birthday Retrospective, Shows throughout the United States (solo)
1986
Retrospective: '75 Ans de Création 1911-1986', Boulogne-Billancourt, Paris, France (solo)
1983
Grosvenor Gallery, London, UK
Major exhibition in Copenhagen, Denmark
1982
Retrospective to celebrate Erté’s 90th birthday, Dyansen Gallery and Chalk & Vermilion, New York, NY (solo)