Our Notes & References
Beautiful example of this major luxury work on Bakst’s art, the first one of its kind, and the most impressive, especially attractive thanks to its art-déco publisher’s binding, here in appealing condition. It focuses on Bakst’s costumes for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, together with a few set designs, gathering most of his most famous creations. Interestingly, it occasionally mentions the owner of the costume itself, usually British or French.
Alexandre contributed a critical essay, while the 24-year old Cocteau authored notes on the various ballets.
“Born in Russia in 1866, Léon Bakst belonged to that young generation of European artists who rebelled against 19th century stage realism, which had become pedantic and literal, without imagination or theatricality. There were no specialist trained theatre designers, so painters like Léon Bakst turned their painting skills to theatre design. Bakst’s fame lay in the ballets he designed for the Diaghilev Ballets Russes, and huge pageant spectaculars for dancer and patron, Ida Rubinstein. He died in 1924 but after nearly 100 years his magic is as potent as ever, rediscovered by every generation. His influence was such that people who have never heard his name now see the world in a different way” (V&A).