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Bakst's Self-portrait, 1893, oil on cardboard, 34 x 21 cm., The State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia

Léon Samoilovitch Bakst (May 10, 1866 – December 28, 1924) was a Russian painter and scene- and costume designer who revolutionized the arts he worked in. Born as Lev (Leib) Rosenberg, he was also known as Leon (Lev) Nikolayevich Bakst (Леон (Лев) Николаевич Бакст). Bakst was the family name of his mother. This surname was more suitable for a young Russian artist. Many Bakst's around the world did change their name to Baxt. The family name was never Bakster or Baxter. Baxter is a Scottish surname. In late 2010 the Victoria and Albert Museum in London will hold an amazing exhibition of it's costumes and prints from Leon Bakst.[1]

Contents

Early life

Leon was born in Grodno (currently Belarus) in a middle-class Jewish family. After graduating from gymnasium, he studied in St. Petersburg Academy of Arts as a noncredit student, working part-time as a book illustrator.

On his first exhibition (1889) he took the name of Bakst based on his mother's family name. The surname 'Rosenberg' was thought to be too Jewish and not good for business. At the beginning of the 1890s he exhibited his works with Society of watercolourists. During 1893 - 1897 he lived in Paris, where he studied at the Académie Julian while still visiting Saint Petersburg often. After the mid-1890s he became a member of the circle of writers and artists formed by Sergei Diaghilev and Alexandre Benois, which later became the Mir Iskusstva art movement.

In 1899, he co-founded with Sergei Diaghilev the influential periodical World of Art. His graphics for the World of Art magazine brought him fame.

Rise to fame

He continued easel painting as well producing portraits of Filipp Malyavin (1899), Vasily Rozanov (1901), Andrei Bely (1905), Zinaida Gippius (1906). He also worked as an art teacher for the children of Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich of Russia. In 1902, he took a commission from Tsar Nicholas II to paint Meeting of Russian sailors in Paris.

In 1898, he showed his works in the Diaghilev-organized First exhibition of Russian and Finnish Artists; in World of Art exhibitions, as well as the Munich Secession, exhibitions of the Union of Russian Artists, etc.

During the Russian Revolution of 1905, Bakst worked for the magazines, Zhupel, Adskaja Pochta, and Satyricon, then for an art magazine called Apollon.

Beginning in 1909, Bakst worked mostly as a stage-designer, designing sets for Greek tragedies, and, in 1908, he made a name for himself as a scene-painter for Diaghilev with the Ballets Russes. He produced scenery for Cleopatra (1909), Scheherazade (1910), Carnaval (1910), Narcisse (1911), Le Spectre de la Rose (1911), and Daphnis et Chloé (1912)). During this time, he lived in western Europe because, as a Jew, he did not have the right to live permanently outside the Pale of Settlement.

During his visits to Saint Petersburg he taught in Zvantseva's school, where one of his students was Marc Chagall (1908-1910).

In 1914, Bakst was elected a member of the Imperial Academy of Arts.

In 1922, he broke his relationship with Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes. He died in 1924 in Paris from lung problems.

Gallery of Selected Works

See also

References

  1. ^ Victoria and Albert Museumretrieved December 16, 2009

Sources

  • Marc Chagall, My Life, St.-Petersburg, Azbuka, 2000, ISBN 5-267-00200-3

External links

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