Léon Bakst

(1866—1924) Russian painter and designer

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(orig. Lev Rosenberg; b Grodno, 10 May, 1866; d Paris, 27 Dec. 1924)

Russian designer and painter. As part of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, he revolutionized both theatrical design and contemporary fashion with the sensuality of his line and his exotic palette of colours. He first collaborated with Diaghilev in St Petersburg on the magazine World of Art, which he co-founded in 1899. His career as a designer began in 1900 with Petipa's Le Cœur de la Marquise, for the Hermitage Theatre in St Petersburg. In 1909 he went with Diaghilev to Paris, designing Fokine's Cléopâtre, and he remained with the Ballets Russes to design Carnaval and Scheherazade (1910), Spectre de la rose and Narcisse (1911), Le Dieu bleu, Thamar, L'Après-midi d'un faune, Daphnis et Chloé (1912), Jeux (1913), and Les Femmes de bonne humeur (1917). After a period of estrangement he returned to Diaghilev for his London staging of The Sleeping Princess (1921), for which he designed elaborate and extravagantly expensive sets and costumes. Bakst also worked with Ida Rubinstein and designed Pavlova's The Sleeping Beauty (New York, 1916), a production including real dogs, cats, and birds on stage. Although he worked in many styles, he is probably best remembered for his vibrant Orientalism, the most famous example being Scheherazade.

Subjects: Dance.

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