“The Art of Concealing Imperfection”

Léon Bakst and Southern California

in Experiment
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The focus of the essay is on Léon Bakst’s activities in the usa, especially in Los Angeles in 1924, when he lectured at the University of Southern California and at the Biltmore Hotel. The essay also touches on Bakst’s interest in Hollywood and cinema as the “new” medium and on his popularity as a dress and textile designer.

Experiment

A Journal of Russian Culture

Figures

  • Léon Bakst with dog, perhaps in the home of Mr. and Mrs. John Alden Carpenter in Chicago, Illinois, 1923.

    courtesy of the chicago history museum (dn-0075973)

    View in gallery
  • Music Room, Biltmore Hotel, Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, 1923.

    courtesy of the millennium biltmore hotel, los angeles

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  • Grand Ballroom (now known as the Crystal Ballroom), Biltmore Hotel, Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, ca. 1923.

    courtesy of the millennium biltmore hotel, los angeles

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  • Photographer unknown: Bovard Auditorium, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, where Bakst lectured on “Art of Design and Color” on Friday, 15 February, 1924.

    courtesy of university of southern california, special collections

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  • Page from typescript of Léon Bakst’s lecture on “The Art of Dress,” 1923–24.

    courtesy of the department of manuscripts, state tretiakov gallery, moscow

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  • Léon Bakst: Portrait of Alice Warder Garrett, 1915, watercolor and gouache on paper. Private Collection on Extended Loan to Evergreen Museum and Library, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore.

    courtesy of the evergreen museum and library

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  • Baron Adolf de Meyer, photographer: Mrs. Harry Payne Whitney (née Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney) wearing an ensemble designed by Léon Bakst, 1913.

    courtesy of the museum of fine arts, boston

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  • Baron Adolf de Meyer, photographer: Mrs. Harry Payne Whitney (née Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney) wearing an ensemble designed by Léon Bakst, 1913.

    courtesy of the archives of american art

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  • Léon Bakst: Textile designs for Arthur i. Selig of the Robinson Silk Company, 1923-24.

    courtesy of our artists gallery, moscow

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  • Helen Dryden: caricature illustrating the article entitled “Revolutions of the New York Social Whirl” in Vogue magazine, New York, 1923, 1 February, pg. 31. Among the visitors to the exhibition of “Recent Works by Bakst” at the Knoedler Gallery on Fifth Avenue in New York (December, 1922) the couple in the center, Alice and John Work Garrett, are admiring Bakst’s portrait of Alice Garrett.
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  • Section from the magazine Arts and Decoration, New York, 1920, April, Vol. 11-12, pg. 417, carrying a review of Léon Bakst’s first exhibition at the Knoedler Gallery, New York, in 1920, and, among other items, a pencil portrait of Mrs. Cole Porter (née Linda Lee Thomas).
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  • Excerpt from newspaper report on “Leon Bakst Expresses His Feeling for Primitive Russian Color and Design in a Signed Collection of New Printed Crêpes” in Vogue, New York, 1924, 1 April, pg. 79.
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  • Advertisement for scarves designed by Bakst on sale at Bullock’s department store, Los Angeles, from The Los Angeles Daily Times, 1924, 9 April, Part ii, pg. 3.
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  • Part of a letter from Léon Bakst to Nicholas Grishkovsky written on Hotel Biltmore stationery, Los Angeles, and dated 15 February, 1924.

    courtesy of the archive of the cultural foundation, moscow

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  • Peggy Hamilton, “The Biltmore Girl,” in preparation for her fashion pageant, which took place on 29 March, 1924 at the Biltmore Hotel, Los Angeles.

    courtesy of the millennium biltmore hotel, los angeles

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  • Peggy Hamilton, dressed in a costume which she designed to match the Grand Ballroom for her fashion pageant, which took place on 29 March, 1924 at the Biltmore Hotel, Los Angeles.

    courtesy of the millennium biltmore hotel, los angeles

    View in gallery
  • Peggy Hamilton, dressed in a costume which she designed to match the Grand Ballroom for her fashion pageant, which took place on 29 March, 1924 at the Biltmore Hotel, Los Angeles.

    courtesy of the millennium biltmore hotel, los angeles

    View in gallery
  • Peggy Hamilton, dressed in a costume which she designed to match the Grand Ballroom for her fashion pageant, which took place on 29 March, 1924 at the Biltmore Hotel, Los Angeles.

    courtesy of the millennium biltmore hotel, los angeles

    View in gallery
  • Page of advertisements, including the announcement of Bakst’s lecture at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, in Los Angeles Times, 1924, 12 February, pg. A8.
    View in gallery

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