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Aubrey Beardsley (1872 - 1898)

Lifespan: 1872 - 1898

"I have one aim--the grotesque. If I am not grotesque I am nothing."

Related: aesthetic movement - Art Nouveau - erotic art - British art - decadent movement - symbolist movement

Lysistrata Defending the Acropolis - Aubrey Beardsley

Mademoiselle de Maupin (1835) - Théophile Gautier [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Aubrey Beardsley illustration of
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Aubrey Vincent Beardsley (August 21, 1872, Brighton, England - March 16, 1898, Menton, France) was an influential English artist, illustrator, and author.

Beardsley was aligned with the Yellow Book coterie of artists and writers, and produced many illustrations for that magazine. He was also aligned closely with Aestheticism, the British counterpart to Decadence and Symbolism. Beardsley's images are usually done in ink, and feature large dark areas contrasted with large blank ones, and areas of fine detail contrasted with areas with none at all.

Beardsley illustrated Oscar Wilde's Salomé and produced illustrations for a deluxe edition of Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur. Beardsley also wrote Under the Hill, an unfinished erotic tale based loosely on the legend of Tannhäuser.

Beardsley was a public character as well as a private eccentric. He said, "I have one aim--the grotesque. If I am not grotesque I am nothing." Wilde said he had "a face like a silver hatchet, and grass green hair."

Beardsley died of tuberculosis at the age of 25, working right up to the end.

--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aubrey_Beardsley [Aug 2004]

The Yellow Book

The Yellow Book, published from 1894 to 1897 by Elkin Mathews and John Lane, later by John Lane alone, and edited by the American Henry Harland, was an important literary periodical that lent its name to the "Yellow" 1890s.

It was the leading journal of the British 1890s; to some degree associated with Aestheticism and Decadence, the magazine contained a wide range of literary and artistic genres, poetry, short stories, essays, book illustrations, portraits, and reproductions of paintings. Aubrey Beardsley was its first art editor, and he has been credited with the idea of the yellow cover, with its association with French fiction of the period. He obtained works by such artists as Charles Conder, John Singer Sargent, Walter Sickert and Philip Wilson Steer. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_Book [Dec 2006]

Salome & Under the Hill - Oscar Wilde, Aubrey Beardsley

Oscar Wilde's scandalous play, Salome, based on the Biblical story of a Judean princess who performs the Dance of the Seven Veils for the Tetrarch, Herod, in exchange for the head of John the Baptist. When Salome finally receives the Christian prophet's head, she addresses it in an erotic monologue that has highly suggestive necrophiliac overtones. Various artistic depictions of the story, particularly in the work of Gustave Moreau and Aubrey Beardsley, also hint at this subtext.

Salome & Under the Hill - Oscar Wilde, Aubrey Beardsley [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

This joint centennial edition of Salome and Under the Hill, united by seventeen of Beardsley's unsurpassable drawings, is a timely rehabilitation of these two all-too-often ignored fin-de-siecle texts, and constitues a volume of unadulterated Decadent Erotica which must surely stand as the apogee of its kind.

Censored, banned, and ridiculed upon publication, Oscar Wilde's Salome, written in 1892 in the French language, must now be viewed as one of the greatest of all Decadent texts; an aesthetic masterwork which has seldom been accorded due respect.

Salome is an evocation of biblical horror in which blasphemies abound. More than this, its atmosphere seethes with a dangerous erotic charge from the very outset. Relentless, hypnotic repetitions in the words, arranged in fugue candences, the tale unfolds with the inexorable acceleration of an orgasmic nightmare.

Aubrey Beardsley's Under the Hill, a short work commenced in 1894, but left unfinished at the time of Beardsley's premature demise, nonetheless achieves the quintessence of Decadence, an evocation of a synaesthetic pleasure dome. A unique and indispensable text for any who seek the uttermost extremes of the manifest imagination. --Amazon.com

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