As a lad, I fell into odd circles, that did me well for my education… When tripping early on, I met Fat Harry the Buddha who introduced me to Larry Pulliam, and Frank the Werewolf. Frank really looked like Lon Chaney fully done up. Startling at times! Gentle soul though, as was Larry. Larry was living in Boulder, and on the weekends, we would visit with him. He introduced me to Bach Fugues, Handel, and especially to the art of Aubrey Beardsley. So we would sit around, listen to Bach and look at art books whilst tripping early on, before hitting the streets. Larry was a few years older than I, and was very concerned that someone my age be involved with what we were about. He took pains to see that I was okay, and handling the experience. A good soul.
Larry loved art, and especially Art Noveau, and the Symbolist. You couldn’t ask for a better guide. He left me with a deep appreciation of Beardsley, and today, I pass some of that on.
Sorry, no Bach, but someday, eh?
I have several volumes of Aubreys’ illustrations, and my pride is the recent reprint (early 90’s) of “Le Morte DaArthur”. Great Stuff… My hat is off to Larry who helped shaped my appreciation of this great artist, and I hope you appreciate Beardsley as well.
The second half of our Duo today is Oscar Wilde. I first became aware of Oscar in College, from working on a production of “The Importance of Being Earnest”. Wonderful stuff. His quotes travelled with me for many a year, and I still have a volume of them on my shelf.
The world is richer for Oscar, oh yes… Today we have his Quotes and some of his Poetry to ponder on,
Emerging Industrial Nation Home Entertainment…
One In Five…
For The Spiritually Hungry….
The Gift that just keeps giving…
QUOTES FROM OSCAR WILDE
“No man is rich enough to buy back his past.”
“Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account.”
“Men become old, but they never become good.”
— Lady Windermere’s Fan
“I delight in men over seventy, they always offer one the devotion of a lifetime. “
— A Woman of No Importance
“How many men there are in modern life who would like to see their past burning to white ashes before them!”
— An Ideal Husband
“One should never trust a woman who tells one her real age. A woman who would tell one that, would tell one anything.”
— A Woman of No Importance
“Crying is the refuge of plain women but the ruin of pretty ones.”
— Lady Windermere’s Fan
“Men know life too early. Women know life too late. That is the difference between men and women.”
— A Woman of No Importance
“Women are meant to be loved, not to be understood.”
— The Sphinx Without a Secret
Three Extracts on: AUBREY VINCENT BEARDSLEY
Aubrey Beardsley was born on 21 August, 1872, in Brighton, England. The family, of middle and upper middle class origins, was often nearly destitute. His father, Vincent, having lost his inherited fortune, worked irregularly at London breweries. Beards ley’s mother, Ellen Pitt, provided a slender income by giving piano lessons. Both Beardsley and his sister, Mabel–who later became an actress–were considered artistic and musical prodigies.
The artist’s health was always fragile: at the age of nine, he had his first reported attack of tuberculosis, the disease which was to reduce him to an invalid several times and finally cause his death. When in 1884 his mother became too ill to care fo r him and his sister, they were both packed off to live with an aunt nearby. He attended Bristol Grammar School for four years as a boarder, indulging in his talents by drawing caricatures of his teachers. In 1889, he was sent to London as a clerk in an i nsurance office. His recovered mother soon followed and remained to nurse her son for the rest of his short life.
Beardsley first published work was “The Valiant,” a poem in the June 1885 issue of Past and Present, the Brighton Grammar School magazine. Two years later his first reproduced drawings, a series of sketches, “The Jubilee Cricket A nalysis,” appeared in the same journal, and he provided the program book illustrations for “The Pay of the Pied Piper,” his School’s 1888 Christmas entertainment. In 1889 his prose piece “The Story of a Confession Album,” was published in Tit Bits, a Reader’s Digest-type publication of the day. These and other works of juvenilia brought the artist little attention, however; increasingly frustrated by clerking, Beardsley sought entry into the art world. In a famous in cident, the artist and his sister went uninvited to see the studio of painter Sir Edward Burne-Jones. They were sent away by a servant, but as they left, Burne-Jones spotted Mabel’s red hair and asked them in. Impressed by the Pre-Raphaelite-influenced dr awings in Beardsley’s portfolio, he recommended that the young artist attend night classes at the Westminster School of Art — the only formal training he ever received.
The years 1893-4 were perhaps the most important in Beardsley’s career. He was hard at work producing illustrations and covers for books and periodicals, including his first commission, J. M. Dent’s edition of Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur (Beardsley had been introduced to the publisher in the summer of 1892). This massive work, issued first in 12 parts and later in volume form, contained over 300 different illustrations, chapter headings, and vignettes. Also in 1893 the artist formed an alliance with the person who was to catapult him to fame and prove his downfall — Oscar Wilde.
“…Burne-Jones in turn attracted the veneration of Aubrey Beardsley, probably the most remarkable English illustrator of the industrial age. He too was a precocious talent: at the age of fifteen he had illustrated his favourite books (Madame Bovary, Manon Lescaut). By the time of his death at the age of twenty-six (he died of tuberculosis, in Menton, where he had gone in search of a favourable climate), he had made a lasting impact on the art of illustration. It was a field in which a number of outstanding artists were then working, including Walter Crane, co-founder with William Morris of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society.
“It was through Burne-Jones that, in 1891, Beardsley, then aged eighteen, met Oscar Wilde. Wilde was writing his Salome in French (Arthur Douglas subsequently translated it into English), and asked Beardsley to illustrate it.
“Beardsley’s drawings are admirably suited to the technical possibilities of industrial reproduction. Ambitious and supremely gifted, the young artist developed a perverse and playfully theatrical style partly inspired by Greek vase painting. The venomous elegance of his drawings has an ornamental rhythm akin to the abstract decorations of Islamic palaces. For Salome, Beardsley ironically appropriated the decadent theme of the evil, emasculating woman. His characters are often grotesque – notably in drawings he later described as “naughty”, representing, for example, grimacing “Gobbi” afflicted with monumentally tumescent phalluses. As a homosexual, Beardsley did not experience the anguish awoken in artists like Munch by the problematic state of relations between the sexes. Wilde described Beardsley’s muse as having “moods of terrible laughter”.”
– From Michael Gibson, “Symbolism”
“…The concern of Beardsley was not to create an illusion of reality, but, like the Eastern artist, to make a beautiful design or pattern within a given space.
“In character he was friendly and lovable, though witty and daring. He made many friends, though few enemies. There was but little rancour or bitterness in his make-up, though there was a streak of waywardness and perversity which he probably inherited from his mother. A medical friend has also pointed out that he may have inherited his uncanny ability to diagnose character from his maternal grandfather and great-grandfather who were both physicians and surgeons.
“He took his art with all the seriousness which is its due, and he often speaks with affection of a drawing that has just left his hands, or is on the point of completion. They were, indeed, his children.
“His eroticism is manifest, and must be accepted as simply as the fact that he had auburn hair and long hands. Much of it was due to his tuberculosis, with which it is often associated, and also to frustration due to that illness and the retired life he had to lead after 1895, and indeed earlier. For him it was from drawing-table, to sofa, to bed. Even a carriage to an evening concert was taken in great trepidation. How many of his drawings are of interiors,
or conceived in formal gardens. How few of them are set in the country, and this country is more derived from Claude than from the English landscape. And yet it is pathetic to read in his letters that he is having “a spell of warm weather, troubled only by the wasps, that bring however with them a sort of memory of orchards”, and again that “jolly winds are driving white clouds over the bluest sky”.
“Having mastered his medium he pushed it to the farthest degree, in fact as far as it had ever been taken or is likely to be. In this he resembles Meryon in his Eauxfortes sur Paris, or Rembrandt in his landscapes, or, Rowlandson’s tinted drawings. He is as much a master of pen and ink as Goya was of aquatint, or Handel was of the combination of voice and trumpet.
“To this consummate skill was added an imagination hitherto unknown and undreamt of in the staid, prosperous and smug later nineteenth century. Demon ridden it may be, but we have to go back to Hieronymus Bosch to find anything comparable. And he has a delicacy and refinement unknown to the Flemish painter. Over a blank white paper come a smirking, creeping, posturing devil horde of things, grotesque, weird, macabre, sinister, misgiving and alarming, before which the creatures in Comus and The End of Elphintown retreat abashed. And then with a seeming flick of his faery hand, we see only a harmless fop of George I, a charming little lady at her toilet, or a poor dead doll.
“If Art is to make us wonder and ponder, to revere and appreciate, if it is not merely to serve us with the surface prettiness of things, then surely the art of Aubrey Vincent Beardsley can be ranged beside that of the Great Ones.”
– From R. A. Walker, “The Best of Beardsley”
Aubrey Beardsley was the most controversial artist of the Art Nouveau era, renowned for his dark and perverse images and the grotesque erotic themes which he explored in his later work.
Beardsley was a close friend of Oscar Wilde and did illustrations and stage designs for Wilde’s play Salome. He also did extensive illustrations for books and magazines, including William Morris’ edition of Le Morte Arthur and magazines like The Savoy and The Studio. Beardsley’s most famous erotic illustrations were on themes of history and mythology, including his illustrations for Lysistrata and Salome. Beardsley was also a characiturist and even did some political cartoons, mirroring Wilde’s irreverant wit in art. Beardsley’s work reflected the decadence of his era and his influence was enormous, clearly visible in the work of the French Symbolists, the Poster Art Movement of the 1890s and the work of many later-period Art Nouveau artists like Pape, Mucha and Clarke.
Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was born in Dublin on 16 October 1854. His father, Sir William Wilde, was an eminent Dublin surgeon and his mother, Jane Francesca Elgee, agitated for Irish Independence and wrote revolutionary poems under the pseudonym “Speranza”.
In 1864 Wilde went to the Portora Royal School where he excelled in the classics, taking top prizes. He was awarded the Royal School Scholarship to Trinity College in Dublin where he earned a Foundation Scholarship. In 1874, he won the college’s Berkeley Gold Medal for Greek and was awarded a Demyship scholarship to Magdalen College in Oxford. There Wilde was awarded the Newdigate prize for his poem, Ravenna, and a First Class in both his “Mods” and “Greats. After graduation, he moved to London. In 1881, he published his first collection of poetry, Poems, which received mixed reviews by critics.
In 1881 and 1882 Wilde travelled across the United States giving over 140 lectures in 260 days. He spent the next couple of years in Britain and France, championing ‘Art Nouveau’-essentially the Aesthetic, art for art’s sake movement. In 1884, he married Constance Lloyd. They had two sons, Cyril in 1885 and Vyvyan in 1886. He worked on The Woman’s World magazine in 1887-1889. In the following six years he published two collections of childrens stories, The Happy Prince And Other Tales (1888), and The House Of Pomegranates (1892). His first and only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, was considered very immoral by the Victorians. The first of his witty and scandalous plays, Lady Windermere’s Fan, opened in February 1892 to critical acclaim. His subsequent plays included A Woman Of No Importance (1893), An Ideal Husband.(1895), and The Importance Of Being Earnest (1895).
His friendship with Lord Alfred ‘Bosie’ Douglas, the third son of the Marquis of Queensberry, was to prove his undoing. In 1895, Wilde sued Bosie’s father for libel as the Marquis had accused him of homosexuality. Although he withdrew the case he was himself arrested, convicted of gross indecency and sentenced to two years hard labour. His long, poignant and revealing letter, now known as De Profundus, written from prison to Alfred Douglas, was not published in full until 1962.
On his release, he wrote The Ballad of Reading Gaol, a response to the agony he experienced in prison. He spent the last three years of his life wandering Europe. He died of meningitis on November 30, 1900 and was buried in Bagneux. His remains were later transferred to the National Cemetery of Pere Lachaise in Paris, where, on the back of the ornate Epstein Tomb, is carved part of a verse from his last work.
“And alien tears will fill for him
Pity’s long-broken urn
For his mourners will be outcast men
And outcasts always mourn.”
Poems From Oscar….
THE GRAVE OF SHELLEY
by: Oscar Wilde
Like burnt-out torches by a sick man’s bed
Gaunt cypress-trees stand round the sun-bleached stone;
Here doth the little night-owl make her throne,
And the slight lizard show his jewelled head.
And, where the chaliced poppies flame to red,
In the still chamber of yon pyramid
Surely some Old-World Sphinx lurks darkly hid,
Grim warder of this pleasaunce of the dead.
Ah! sweet indeed to rest within the womb
Of Earth, great mother of eternal sleep,
But sweeter far for thee a restless tomb
In the blue cavern of an echoing deep,
Or where the tall ships founder in the gloom
Against the rocks of some wave-shattered steep.
THE HARLOT’S HOUSE
by: Oscar Wilde
We caught the tread of dancing feet,
We loitered down the moonlit street,
And stopped beneath the harlot’s house.
Inside, above the din and fray,
We heard the loud musicians play
The “Treues Liebes Herz” of Strauss.
Like strange mechanical grotesques,
Making fantastic arabesques,
The shadows raced across the blind.
We watched the ghostly dancers spin
To sound of horn and violin,
Like black leaves wheeling in the wind.
Like wire-pulled automatons,
Slim silhouetted skeletons
Went sidling through the slow quadrille.
The took each other by the hand,
And danced a stately saraband;
Their laughter echoed thin and shrill.
Sometimes a clockwork puppet pressed
A phantom lover to her breast,
Sometimes they seemed to try to sing.
Sometimes a horrible marionette
Came out, and smoked its cigarette
Upon the steps like a live thing.
Then, turning to my love, I said,
“The dead are dancing with the dead,
The dust is whirling with the dust.”
But she–she heard the violin,
And left my side, and entered in:
Love passed into the house of lust.
Then suddenly the tune went false,
The dancers wearied of the waltz,
The shadows ceased to wheel and whirl.
And down the long and silent street,
The dawn, with silver-sandalled feet,
Crept like a frightened girl.
by: Oscar Wilde
N melancholy moonless Acheron,
Far from the goodly earth and joyous day,
Where no spring ever buds, nor ripening sun
Weighs down the apple trees, nor flowery May
Chequers with chestnut blooms the grassy floor,
Where thrushes never sing, and piping linnets mate no more,
There by a dim and dark Lethaean well
Young Charmides was lying, wearily
He plucked the blossoms from the asphodel,
And with its little rifled treasury
Strewed the dull waters of the dusky stream,
And watched the white stars founder, and the land was like a dream,
When as he gazed into the watery glass
And through his brown hair’s curly tangles scanned
His own wan face, a shadow seemed to pass
Across the mirror, and a little hand
Stole into his, and warm lips timidly
Brushed his pale cheeks, and breathed their secret forth into a sigh.
Then turned he round his weary eyes and saw,
And ever nigher still their faces came,
And nigher ever did their young mouths draw
Until they seemed one perfect rose of flame,
And longing arms around her neck he cast,
And felt her throbbing bosom, and his breath came hot and fast,
And all his hoarded sweets were hers to kiss,
And all her maidenhood was his to slay,
And limb to limb in long and rapturous bliss
Their passion waxed and waned, — O why essay
To pipe again of love too venturous reed!
Enough, enough that Eros laughed upon that flowerless mead.
To venturous poesy O why essay
To pipe again of passion! fold thy wings
O’er daring Icarus and bid thy lay
Sleep hidden in the lyre’s silent strings,
Till thou hast found the old Castilian rill,
Or from the Lesbian waters plucked down Sappho’s golden quill!
Enough, enough that he whose life had been
A fiery pulse of sin, a splendid shame,
Could in thy loveless land of Hades glean
One scorching harvest from those fields of flame
Where passion walks with naked unshod feet
And is not wounded, — ah! enough that once their lips could meet
In that wild throb when all existences
Seemed narrowed to one single ecstasy
Which dies through its own sweetness and the stress
Of too much pleasure, ere Persephone
Had bade them serve her by the ebon throne
Of the pale God who in the fields of Enna loosed her zone.
Have a Great Wednesday!