Art A-Z: B – Bakst Lev

Lev (Leo) Samoilovich Bakst (Rosenberg) (1866, Grodno – 1924, Paris) – painter, illustrator, theatre decorator.

In 1883 – 1887 – student of the Academy of Art (Saint-Petersburg). In 1891 travelled to Europe, made studies in several workshops in Paris.

Decoration for ballet “Scheherazade”, 1916

Bakst was one of members of “Mir Iskusstva” (World of Art) fellowship, in 1899 – 1904 he was main illustrator of its review. In 1909 – 1920 – decorator of Dyagilev’s “Ballets Russes”, worked in Paris since 1911. Since 1914 – academic of Russian Academy of Art.

Baskt was one of few Russian artists of the beginning of XX century, who was more famous abroad than in Russia. His colourful decorations and designs of costumes for Ballets Russes charmed European public.

Design of costume for ballet “Narcissus”, 1911

His style, inspired by Orient, influenced not only theatre, but also fashion, including Paul Poiret, whose bright colours dominated women’s fashion in the end of 1910s and 1920s.

Besides, Bakst painted a lot of portraits, but, unlike his works in theatre, his panel painting is typical for “Mir Iskusstva” members.