The Best Art Books of 2017, Roberta Smith, The New York Times

December 14, 2017

A spread from “Designing Dreams: A Celebration of Léon Bakst” shows some of Bakst’s inspired textile designs from 1923 to 1924. Credit Tony Cenicola/The New York Times



Edited by Célia Bernasconi, John E. Bowlt and Nick Mauss (Nouveau Musée National de Monaco and Mousse Publishing). Celebration is right. While famous for his sets and costumes for Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, Bakst was also an inspired textile designer and fashion-forward thinker. This exhibition presents the totality, including Bakst’s madly beautiful gouache textile studies. Its fabulous softbound catalog records the show’s own superb design, by the artist Nick Mauss, who also made all the unique stenciled-cloth covers. With its matte paper and vintage photographs, the catalog feels sweetly interwar yet ahead of its time. All catalogs should document their exhibitions’ installations.