Free As Gods: Picasso, Calder and Artists Take Center Stage

Charles Riley at Strand Bookstore

Fri, Jul 7 at 7 p.m.   |   90 minutes

More than just stars on the art scene, Picasso and Calder took center stage in the world of theater and that changed the course of their work forever.

More than just stars on the art scene, Picasso and Calder took center stage in the world of theater. In 1917 Picasso fell in love with a ballerina in the Ballets Russes while creating scenery and costumes for his collaboration with Satie on the pathbreaking dance work, Parade. His stage designs changed the course of his painting. Alexander Calder, who has a major show at the Whitney this summer, created his famous Circus as well as the set for Satie's opera Socrate and many other theater works.

Cultural historian Charles A. Riley II, author of Free as Gods, will share the backstage secrets of Picasso, Calder, Leger, Chagall, Hockney, Kentridge, and many other contemporary artists who have found a home in the theater.


After Professor Riley's Olio, members from the company of The Other Side of Paradise invite you to listen to select songs from the musical.
The Other Side of Paradise is a wild concert telling of the relationship between Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, written by Angela Sclafani. Part concert, part theater, part 1920's underground apartment party, the night spans 40 years of history in one blazing 75 minute set.
After selling out their world premiere at Ars Nova's ANT Fest, the jazz concert party has announced a speakeasy club tour in July. Tickets can be purchased here.
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Teacher: Charles Riley

Charles Riley II is the director of the Nassau County Museum of Art, an arts journalist, curator and professor at Clarkson University. He graduated from Princeton and received his Phd from City College of New York.


Venue: Strand Bookstore

What is Think Olio?


Think Olio is here to put the liberation back into the liberal arts.

Classically, the liberal arts, were the education considered essential for a free person to take an active part in civic life. To counter a humanities that has been institutionalized and dehumanized we infuse critical thinking, openness, playfulness, and compassion into our learning experience.

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If Friday night lectures, museum field trips, and living room salons sound like your kind of thing, then you've found your people. We can't wait to welcome you to the Think Olio Scenius. More info


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Liaisons Host an Olio

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of art and literature.