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Pop surrealist Mark Ryden continues his 'Whipped Cream' adventure with New York art exhibition

Pop-surrealist painter Mark Ryden designed the candy-colored costumes and sets for American Ballet Theatre's "Whipped Cream," which premieres at the Metropolitan Opera House on May 22. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Pop-surrealist painter Mark Ryden designed the candy-colored costumes and sets for American Ballet Theatre's "Whipped Cream," which premieres at the Metropolitan Opera House on May 22. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Pop surrealist Mark Ryden, known for his kitschy, brightly colored paintings blending pop culture and old master techniques, made his first foray into theatrical design in March with American Ballet Theatre’s “Whipped Cream,” which premiered at Costa Mesa’s Segerstrom Center for the Arts.  

“It just seemed like an exciting adventure,” Ryden told us at the time, speaking to why he was drawn to the project, for which he created a haven of dessert-themed set pieces and costumes.  

Well, the adventure continues.

“Whipped Cream,” which features choreography by ABT artist-in-residence Alexei Ratmansky, will see its New York premiere at the Metropolitan Opera House on Monday. To mark the occasion, New York’s Paul Kasmin Gallery and ABT will present an exhibition of drawings, sketches and paintings that Ryden created for the ballet. “Mark Ryden: The Art of Whipped Cream” opens May 19 at the Met’s Arnold and Marie Schwartz Gallery Met and will be on view through July 8.

“There’s something very unsettling, disturbing, about his paintings, which hides behind the sometimes very sweet surface,” Ratmansky told The Times in March. “I just thought it was a good fit for the music and that it would make this 1920s work feel contemporary.”

“Whipped Cream" is based on an obscure, 1924 two-act ballet called “Schlagobers,” written and composed by Richard Strauss. It’s about a young boy who, after his first Communion, celebrates by wolfing down too many sweets at a Viennese pastry shop. He falls into a sugar-induced delirium and is rushed to the hospital, where a series of hallucinations bring his beloved desserts to life.

Follow me on Twitter: @debvankin

 

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