Beardsley, whose drawings of sinuous figures reflected his own wiry frame and distinctive profile, had an extremely brief but prolific career that lasted only seven years. In this short time, and beset by bad health (Beardsley was plagued by tuberculosis and would eventually die of the disease aged just 25), he produced some of the most iconic images of the era, prefiguring the decorative elegance of art nouveau.
Beardsley’s style was heavily influenced by the poster designs of Toulouse Lautrec, as well as classical Greek vases and Japanese woodblock prints. Elements of these distinctive art forms were absorbed by the artist, and reinterpreted into prints, while the fragile originals were squirrelled away for posterity. But visitors to this exhibition will be able to see these precious drawings alongside some of the works that influenced them.
Beardsley is perhaps best known for his illustrations of Oscar Wild’s notorious play Salomé, based on the biblical story of King Herod’s stepdaughter who, after dancing for the king, demanded that the head of John the Baptist be brought to her on a plate. This subject provided Beardsley with an opportunity to probe the erotic, sensual and dark corners of his imagination. Also on display will be drawings he made for Alexander Pope’s The Rape of the Lock and Thomas Mallory’s Le Morte d’Arthur.
This, the largest exhibition of Beardsley’s work in over 50 years, will surely be a popular one. His elegant work, laced with opulence, sex, death and more than a touch of strangeness, has enduring appeal. Beardsley fans will be in their element, and art lovers will have their curiosity piqued. This will be one spring exhibition not to miss.
|What||Aubrey Beardsley, Tate Britain 2020|
|Where||Tate Britain, Millbank, London, SW1P 4RG | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Pimlico (underground)|
04 Mar 20 – 25 May 20, Open every day 10am – 6pm
|Website||Click here for more information|