The return of Léon Bakst: Slav magic or Oriental Other?

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Seeing “The Return of Léon Bakst” in the Berlin-based Russian illustrated review Zhar ptitsa (Firebird) in 1922, what “return” might its readers have assumed to be intended? Was it about a return to Judaism that Bakst had abandoned 20 years earlier? Or perhaps a return to Russia, a dream of so many Russian Berliners in that year? Or knowing that the article's author, André Levinson, was a dance critic, could it be about the artist's return as a stage designer to Diaghilev's famous Ballets Russes? In a figurative sense, all three assumptions were true. However, there lies a good deal more behind the depicted return of Léon Bakst. This article explores those three possibilities within the context of the ambivalence created around the figure of Léon Bakst that swayed between the magic of Slav folklore and Western perceptions of the Oriental Other.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)276-297
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Modern Jewish Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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