Léon Bakst. Symbol of the Ballets Russes


The exhibition, curated by Natalia Metelitsa e Maria Ida Biggi, explores the career of the renowned Russian artist and set and costume designer, who made a reputation thanks to his innovative creations for Sergei Diaghilev’s celebrated ballet company. The result of a joint project by the Cini Institute of Theatre and Opera and the St. Petersburg State Museum of Theatre and Music, which has the largest collection in the world of Bakst’s set and costume designs, the exhibition is being staged in collaboration with the Centre for Studies on the Arts of Russia (CSAR) at Ca’Foscari University, Venice and is part of the “Russian Season in Italy”, organised by the Russian Ministry of Culture. The exhibition itinerary documents a large part of Bakst’s  artistic production: after some little-known early works for productions such as Marius Petipa’s Le Coeur de la Marquise (1902) and some Greek tragedies (Euripides’ Hippolyte and Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonna and Antigone; 1902-1904), the heart of the exhibition features the celebrated creations for the Ballets Russes, including those for Cléopâtre (1909), L’oiseau de feu (1910), Carnaval (1910), Narcisse (1911), Le Dieu bleu (1912), and Daphnis et Chloé (1912). In addition to these materials, there is a selection of costume designs mainly created between 1910 and 1911 for ballets such as Thaïs, La Traviata, Faust, Martyre de St. Sébastien and Manon Lescaut. The exhibition is completed by a rich series of photographs and original costumes, a fundamental aid in reconstructing the much-acclaimed artist’s multifaceted activities. Léon Bakst (1866-1924) was educated in St.Petersburg and Paris. With Sergei Diaghilev and Alexandre Benois, he founded Mir iskusstva, the magazine in which he published his first graphic art works. In 1902, he began working as a set and costume designer for the St. Petersburg imperial theatres. Albeit with rifts and reconciliations, his collaboration with the Ballets Russes lasted from 1909 almost throughout his career.

Download the poster

Download the brochure 

Narcisse, Ballets Russes, coreografia di Michel Fokine, 1911. © St Petersburg State Museum of Theatre and Music