The Life and Designs of Leon Bakst

As a lover of theatre (loved it enough to get a degree in it), I'm perpetually fascinated by the process of a piece's creation from the first creative spark to the striking of the set. Most people have no idea just how much goes into the simplest of productions. In a way, that's sort of the idea. You don't want to give away all of the secrets. Anyway, one of my favorite aspects of the hidden side of a production are the set and costume design sketches and renderings. I spent an entire semester on this process alone and it's amazing to see the ways in which different designers craft the story of the costumes and spaces on paper. I recently came across some of the designs of Leon Bakst (1866 –1924). Bakst was a Russian painter and costume/set designer. He started out as a book illustrator and I think you can really see that in his designs. Early in his set design career, he focused on designs for Greek tragedies. Later he became the scene-painter for Diaghilev with the Ballets Russes. Later this year, at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London there will be an exhibition of many of these prints. Anyone want to lend me some frequent flyer miles?? His designs are so lush, elaborate, and over the top. I can't even imagine the budgets... Hah, anyway, enjoy!

This is my absolute favorite. Vaslav Nijinsky in 'L'Apres Midi d'un Faun'

Ballet Costume for "The Firebird," by Stravinsky

Operatic Costume Designs, 1911

Sketch For the Ballet La Peri, by Paul Dukas

Costume Design for Harlequin, from Sleeping Beauty, 1921

Costume Design for Salome in "Dance of the Seven Veils," 1908

Costume Design for a Bacchante in "Narcisse" by Tcherepnin, 1911

Design for Nijinsky in the Ballet "La Peri" by Paul Dukas

A Study for a Figure of a Dancer for Scheherazade

Design For the Wolf, from Sleeping Beauty, 1921

Set Design for Act I of "Daphnis and Chloe" by Maurice Ravel

Set Design for "Scheherazade" by Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908) 1916

Set Design for "Thamar," 1912

Set Design for "La Pisanelle, Ou La Mort Parfumee" by Gabriele D'Annunzio, 1913

Scenery Design from Aladdin, c.1916

All images via allposters.com