Aubrey Beardsley (Brighton, 1872 – Menton, 1898) constructed an instantly recognisable, bold and virtuoso graphic world. He enjoyed such meteoric success in the 1890s that this era was dubbed the ‘Beardsley Period’ in London. Diagnosed with tuberculosis in infancy, he knew that he would not live long. By the time he died at the age of twenty five, he had produced over one thousand drawings. His original drawings – some sixty of which are exhibited here – are not particularly well known as they were mostly seen by readers of the books and magazines in which they were published. Beardsley established his reputation by adopting a new photomechanical process for reproducing black-and-white images: photographic line-block printing. This process, using photography and an original drawing, reproduced the vigorous, confident lines of the calligrapher’s pen.
Aubrey BeardsleyPoster© Victoria and Albert Museum, Londres, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / image Victoria and Albert Museum
This first monographic exhibition in France devoted to Beardsley takes a chronological tour through the major phases of the multifaceted but always distinctive styles of this artist who claimed: ‘I have seven different styles and they have all been popular.’
Aubrey Beardsley, artist-dandy
Artist-dandy, epitome of fin-de-siècle decadence, lover of bizarre beauty – Aubrey Beardsley cultivated this image of a provocative young nonconformist prodigy which was an integral part of his popularity. Lifting the lid on the hypocritical puritanism of the late Victorian era, he pioneered the representation of identities and desires associated with sexual freedom and gender fluidity. He was a frequent visitor to France, spending time in Paris, Dieppe and Menton, and died in this country which he associated with Watteau, Molière, Sade, Balzac, Sand, Gautier, Zola, Flaubert, and also Huysmans, author of the ‘breviary of decadence’, the novel A Rebours (Against Nature).