Paris Post War: Art and existentialism 1945-55: Everyday during this exhibition at the Tate Gallery, the Independent is running a short extract from letters, reportage and diaries of the period

Friday, June 15, 1945

Tonight, at the Theatre Sarah Bernhardt, the first great premiere of a ballet since the war. Liberated Paris is becoming herself again. We are emerging from a four-year night, and in a sense this evening was a festival of liberty restored. Just over a month ago Hitler committed suicide and the Wehrmacht surrendered . . . The balletomanes and the snobs are there, as all the celebrities of Paris, from Comte Etienne de Beaumont to Marlene Dietrich, from Jean Cocteau to Picasso. Only the presence of a few men in uniform reminds us that the war is still going on in the Far East . . .

Seated next to Picasso in the orchestra - with Gilberte on my right, and Dora Maar beside Picasso - I glance through the elaborate program. There are reproductions of Picasso's curtain; drawings by Berard, Valentine Huge, Mayo, and Lucien Coutaud, photographs of my sets and of the male and female dancers of the troupe. All through these recent weeks, I have been plunged in this

word of smiles and tears, of entrechats and crocs-en-jambe; the fascinating, hysterial world of the ballet.

From Picasso & Co, by Brassai, Thames & Hudson 1967

Paris Post War: Art and Existentialism 1945-55 at the Tate Gallery until

5 September.

See page 19 for invitation to readers' evening private views and next Monday's Independent for reader offers.

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