“I have one aim – the grotesque. If I am not grotesque I am nothing”
Aubrey Beardsley was born on the 21st of August 1872, when he was 11 his family settled in London, he had already contracted “consumption” at age 7. Aubrey and his sister Mabel performed musical duets in public and was somewhat of an child prodigy. His artistic education was at Westminster School of Art.
Beardsley was easily the most controversial artist in the Art Nouveau period, concentrating his efforts in the grotesque arena rather than the elegance that the era is often recognised for. His association with Oscar Wilde and other english aesthetes led speculation into his sexual orientation and private life, where homosexuality and incest were in question. Aubrey was generally considered to be asexual.
Aubrey’s collaboration with Wilde, where his illustrations were published in Wilde’s book “Salome” a book on our family’s bookshelf, the cover which often beckoned us kids with it’s macabre imagery of a head on a pedestal, with the promise of more inside. We were equally enthralled and repulsed by it’s content.
Beardsley’s work was often in black ink, and were bereft of colour, in keeping no doubt with his interest in the dark realms as well as being influenced by Japanese woodcuts.