Aubrey Beardsley, Tate Britain - ★★★★★ - Until May 25, 2020


Considering his influence on the world of art, it is hard to believe that Aubrey Beardsley's career lasted less than seven years before he died at age twenty-five. His sinuous line and sensuous subjects define the British fin de siècle. He was instantly recognised by his contemporaries as the premier artist of the British Decadent movement, and unlike many shooting stars his light has not been dimmed by time. This is an artist whose brilliant draughtsmanship creates a stunning sense of elegance which is cunningly and surprisingly complemented by a subversive humour and erotic playfulness. In this exhibition of just over two hundred and forty works, the focus is on Beardsley's inspirations, from Edward Burne-Jones, through his Japanese period and on to his interest in rococo and then the French poster art of his time. Beardsley was able to assimilate all these influences and make them his own. His work is never imitative, although he himself comes often to be imitated. The inclusion of pieces by Beardsley's successors offers a wonderful coda to the main exhibition. It has been argued that the last major exhibition of Beardsley's work at the Victoria & Albert Museum in 1966 had a profound affect on the psychedelic art of that period. After more than fifty years since that exhibition, it is certainly time to relish a fresh look at this uniquely gifted artist. The fifteen sections of this beautifully curated exhibition offer a lot to take in, so be sure to allocate sufficient time!

Reviewed by J.C.
Image: The Climax by Aubrey Beardsley, 1893.

 Our Score:  ☆☆☆☆☆ 

WHEN, WHERE, GETTING THERE:
Until May 25, 2020
Mon - Sun: 10 am - 6 pm
Tate Britain
Nearest tube: Pimlico
https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/exhibition/aubrey-beardsley

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