Leon Bakst

Lbeon Bakst, Author Penguin Books $19.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-14-008734-5
This album includes handsome reproductions of the Russian artist's work and a laudatory essay as well as a chronology (Bakst, who was born Lev Samoilovich Rosenberg in Grodno, lived from 1866-1924) featuring photographs and excerpts from letters. A prominent member of the Mir iskusst va (World of Art) Society, Bakst is probably best remembered for his theatrical designs, notably Diaghilev's Ballets Russes , extraordinary for their rich colors and imaginative patterns. Even Bakst's most opulent set and costume designs convincingly state that more is more. According to this book, it was the ballet Scheherazade that ``disclosed for the first time Bakst's full coloristic potential . . . To convey the mood generated by the music through colour, to interpret in a painterly way the emotional sensuality inherent in the musicthis was the most significant innovation to occur in theatre design for many years.'' Many of the volume's thoughtfully selected illustrations (115 in color; 85 in black and white) are culled from Soviet collections. Also included are a good number of Bakst's impressive book illustrations, paintings and portraits. If anything is missing from this artfully designed volume, it is the critical perspective that might have been provided by a more objective text. Although the book is a rewarding labor of love, more instructive and clearly presented information would have been helpful. (September)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1988
Release date: 09/01/1988
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