I’m not speaking of some tawdry film set in the San Fernando Valley or a Palm Springs pool party ; I’m thinking of that infinitely more satisfying period in the 1890’s when the line between beauty and perversity was fully explored, the Decadent Movement.
I was reminded of this delightful time by my friend Kim Cooper of LAVA Sunday Salon fame. Kim had thoughtfully sent along an email announcement that UCLA was putting together a lecture series devoted to the Decadent Movement and Aestheticism, of course I made reservations pronto.
Once I knew I had secured a seat, I felt free to share the info. I tend to be greedy.
It is a two day lecture, November 19th and 20th at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus, if you happen to be in L.A. please join me.
Of A Neophyte And How The Black Art Was Revealed Unto Him By The Fiend Asamuel
We can’t really think of the Decadent movement without regarding Huysmans and his wonderfully perverse novels À rebours (Against the Grain, 1884) and my personal favorite Là-Bas (The Damned, 1891). À rebours chronicles the exploits of the wicked aesthete Jean Des Esseintes. It is a marvelous novel, beloved by Wilde and his set, I must revisit this novel.
Jean Des Essientes is said to be based on that dandy of dandies Robert de Montesquieu, a delightful portrait by Giovanni Boldini follows.
Joris-Karl Huysman was himself a bit of a dandy, I really admire this photo-portrait of Huysmans. I find it intriguing how a sacred object such as a crucifix can appear sinister when in the company of this man. I want my next portrait to be in this pose.
b. Feb. 5th 1848
d. May 12th 1907
Certain dark themes recur time and again within the Decadent Movement, Oedipus and the ghastly Sphynx, dark angels and swooning lamentations, Moreau’s Orpheus a good example. But no figure held the imagination so firmly as Salome . Wilde, Beardsley, Moreau, and Ricketts, along with many others, all tried to capture her dark allure.
Although not of the period it is difficult to not toss in the silent screen starlet Alla Nazimova and her iconic 1923 depiction of the wanton Salome.
As I intend to experience the lecture fully, I will re-read that silly little novel that caused such a sensation in ’94, Robert Hitchens, Green Carnation.
I hope to be a s precious as Esmé Amarinth, hope to see you there.
Have a pleasant evening,