Leon Bakst

Bakst, Leon


(Lev Samoilovich Rozenberg). Born Jan. 27 (Feb. 8), 1866, in Grodno; died Dec. 27, 1924, in Paris. Russian painter, graphic artist, and costume and set designer. He studied at the St. Petersburg Academy of Art (1883–87) and in Paris (from 1893).

Bakst was a member of the Mir iskusstva (World of Art) society. His illustrations for the magazines Mir iskusstva, Zolotoe runo (The Golden Fleece), and Apollon and easel paintings (Horror Antiquus,1908, Russian Museum, Leningrad) were strongly influenced by art nouveau. After 1909, he lived primarily in Paris.

Bakst was one of the leading designers of the Russian Season Abroad and of the private theatrical enterprises of S. P. Diaghilev (the ballets Cleopatra,1909; The Firebird,1910; Narcissus,1911; Daphnis and Chloe,1912; and others). In his theatrical work, he strove before all else to communicate “the spirit of the era,” frequently leaning toward a mystical interpretation. He was especially attracted to ancient Greece of the archaic period and to the East. Stylizing motifs of ancient art and exotic eastern clothing, Bakst created exquisitely decorative, often fantastic costumes, which were one of the most important elements of colorful theater spectacles. In the first 20 years of the 20th century, Bakst worked in the theaters of Paris, London, New York, Brussels, and Rome.


Alexandre, A., and J. Cocteau. L’art décoratifde Léon Bakst. Paris, 1913.
Lewinson, A. The Story of Leon Bakst’s Life. Berlin, 1922.
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On the 150th anniversary of his birth, an exhibition will honor the Russian designer Leon Bakst, whose set and costume designs spun the fantasy worlds inhabited by the legendary Ballets Russes between 1909 and 1922.
Together with Serge Diaghilev and Leon Bakst, Alexandre founded the World of Art magazine in the early 1890s, and its associated movement, as well as the Ballets Russes.
Likewise, the costumes and sets, by Richard Hudson, are inspired not by the 1890 Mariinsky production but by the lavish 1921 Leon Bakst designs for the Ballets Russes.
His first artistic instruction was given in Vitebsk before he spent three years from 1907-10 in Petrograd (St Petersburg), where he studied at the Imperial School for the Protection of the Fine Arts, and later with Leon Bakst who went on to design sets for the Ballet Russes.
The costumes and sets were designed by the painter Leon Bakst.
During these years, Burchfield absorbed such diverse influences as Chinese scroll paintings; the works of Hiroshige, Hokusai, and Aubrey Beardsley; and Russian ballet designs by Leon Bakst.
Chagall began to display his artistic talent while studying at a secular Russian school, and despite his father's disapproval, in 1907 he began studying art with Leon Bakst in St.
And then suddenly Charles Spencer - a celebrated author in the areas of art deco and similar books - comes along with a finely-researchedbookonacompletely unknown, yet highly significant, set of facts about the great Russian designer Leon Bakst.
The Futurist Enrico Prampolini summarized the aesthetic of the first Ballets Russes-employed artists, Leon Bakst, Alexandre Benois, and Nicholas Roerich, as "Assyrian-Persian-Egyptian-Nordic plagiarist" in spirit.
During their twenty-year run (the company disbanded in 1929 after Diaghilev's death), the Ballets Russes collaborated closely with dancers, choreographers and visual artists that included George Balanchine (1904-1983), Vaslav Nijinsky (1890-1950), Tamara Karsavina (1885-1978), Mikhail Fokine (1880-1942), Leonide Massine (1896-1979), Leon Bakst (1866-1944), Georges Braque (1882-1963), and Pablo Picasso (1881-1973).
Curator Jody Blake says "those who follow things Russian" will love the Ballets Russes 1920s costumes by Leon Bakst for The Sleeping Princess.