Category Archives: Jean Cocteau

Mikhail Baryshnikov Art Graces New York, Scheduled For Moscow In 2013

Alexandre Benois’s costume design
from The Art I’ve Lived With
(more highlights at ABA Gallery)


New York’s ABA Gallery hosts the first-ever public display of the private art collection of Mikhail Baryshnikov, the world-famous Russian ballet danser. Titled “The Art I’ve Lived With“, it offers a generous insight into the artistic taste and inner world of one of the greatest men-of-arts of the second half of the 20th c. In 1975, soon after leaving the USSR behind, Baryshnikov purchased the “1917 Jean Cocteau drawing of impresario Serge Diaghilev, founder of the Ballets Russes, and Christian Berard’s design for George Balanchine’s ballet “Mozartiana””, Bloomberg reports.

Initially, Baryshnikov was interested in the Russian artistic scene of the fin de siecle, and particularly the Ballets Russes, so his choice gravitated towards the works of Leo Bakst, Alexandre Benois, and Sergei Sudeikin: “I knew the names of those artists from the tender age, from textbooks. They are people who worked in the imperial theater in Russia. They left Russia with Diaghilev and did costumes for Vaslav Nijinsky and Mikhail Fokin“.

Later the scope of collection grew bigger, but the focus has remained on drawings. Baryshnikov’s collection of drawings now includes Valentine Gross’s portrait of Nijinsky in the ballet “Le Spectre de la Rose”, a costume design for “Carmen” by Antoni Clave featuring the French dancer and choreographer Roland Petit, and a 1903 pencil drawing of a woman by Ilya Repin, Bloomberg states.

The exhibition has opened on December 4, 2012 and is expected to migrate to Moscow in 2013, to let Baryshnikov’s native compatriots study the more private side of Mikhail. He says, however, that he is unlikely to ever sell his collection; he’d like to bequest it entirely to his own foundation.