At the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco, a new exhibition pays tribute to Russian painter, scene and costume designer Leon Bakst

As a commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the birth of the stage designer for the Ballets Russes, the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco is opening the show Designing Dreams: A Celebration of Leon Bakst. The exhibition runs from October 23 to January 15 at the Villa Sauber in Monaco.

Born Leyb-Khaim Izrailevich (later Samoylovich) Rosenberg, Bakst was born in 1866 in Grodno, in present-day Belarus, and died in Paris in 1924. A painter, as well as a scene and costume designer, Bakst is best known for the colourful costumes that he meticulously designed for the Ballets Russes company in Paris, London and Monte Carli. His dazzling creations contributed to the global triumph of iconic shows such as Scheherazade, Le Spectre de la Rose, Narcisse, Daphnis et Chloé, Le Dieu Bleu and La Belle au Bois Dormant.

Designing Dreams is set to showcase more than 150 of Bakst’s drawings, models and costumes, in what curators Celia Bernasconi and John Ellis Bowlt describe as a “unique scenography inspired by the concept of the dream.” These pieces are documented by numerous period archives and accompanied by the works of artists such as Jean Cocteau, Valentine Hugo and Georges Barbier, who contributed to the diffusion of Bakst’s famous decorative art.

By Daniel Scheffler

A version of this article appeared in print in Selections, The Collectors Issue #38, pages 102-105.