Leon Bakst

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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There are also animal-printed sequins and quilted or powdery satins inspired by the paintings of Leon Bakst or the costumes of The Firebird.
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.
The dress was part of the Emanuels' Diaghilev collection, which was inspired by Leon Bakst's geometric designs for Diaghilev's 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. Rejecting classical formalism.
Also influential was the Ballets Russes, including the sets and costumes of Leon Bakst; Gray owned copies of Bakst's designs for the 1910 production of Scheherazade, which display what Caroline Constant has called "the blurring of gender distinctions." (4) Of equal significance for Rault's argument is the fact that the bal- let company's impresario, Sergei Diaghilev, "chose to cast in the lead roles two of the early twentieth century's most renowned queer icons: Vaslev Nijinsky as the feminized and sexually submissive Golden Slave to Ida Rubinstein's powerful femme fatale ...
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. But "The greatest inspiration to me was Henry G.
Included are numerous portraits of Diaghilev; photographs of friends, family, artists, nobility, and philanthropists; contemporary caricatures; drawings of Leon Bakst's costumes (including his design for Nijinsky in the Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune, the ballet that scandalized audiences); photos of Igor Stravinsky (who composed the music for The Firebird and Le Sacre du Printemps) and other famous dancers, both male and female.
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.