Spotlight on Beardsley and Spilliaert at the Musée d’Orsay

The museums remain closed, but we don’t want you to miss two extraordinary exhibitions. Please discover below Aubrey Beardsley‘s virtuoso black-and-white drawings and enter into his strange, erotic, and daring universe… and escape into a moment of peaceful reflection with Léon Spilliaert‘s Light and Solitude. His lonely figures in endless space often reflect unconscious existential fears, but not without tranquil and benevolent beauty.

Please enjoy while we wait to welcome you again one day soon.

Aubrey Beardsley (1872-1898)

Musée d’Orsay
October 13, 2020 – January 10, 2021

His success seems without limits when Aubrey Beardsley dies at the early age of twenty-five. The work of this prolific young artist is everywhere and he quickly becomes a fixture of the London art scene in the 1890s.  This is his first solo exhibition in France and the first of importance in Europe since he was honored at the Victoria & Albert Museum in 1966.

The twenty-year-old artist receives his first major order from the publisher J.M. Dent:  the illustration of Thomas Malory’s  Le Morte Darthur, for which he creates several hundred drawings. From now on, he is able to live off his art.  Within a few years, England’s editorial world claims his work for journals, magazines, collections of poetry, and novels. His illustrations for Oscar Wilde’s Salomé are among his most celebrated works.

The drawings of this ingenious figure of end-of-the 19th-century England – lively and virtuous, in black-and-white – present a strange, erotic, daring, and utterly non-conformist universe. His very personal style is easily recognizable, partly due to the overwhelming presence of his work and elevates him to a phenomenon that art critic Max Beerbohm called  “the Beardsley Period”.

The exhibition shows this exceptional artist’s journey from his first works published in 1891 to his last in 1898, along with about a hundred of his original drawings, examples of several original editions of his illustrations, and a selection of posters. They emphasize the wide range of this personality well outside of any norm.

Explore the exhibition rooms
Click the Play button to start the slideshow









Léon Spilliaert (1881-1946)

Painter of troubling solitude and infinite perspectives, Léon Spilliaert surprises and disturbs. His work is hard to classify, his very own symbolic representation of inner darkness. The originality of his work is already inherent in the somber watercolors of his early years.

Like other artists at the beginning of the century, Spilliaert explores the unconscious and existential angst at the moment in time when science begins to examine the human psyche and motivation.

He is close to the symbolists, inspired by Nietzsche, Poe, Lautréamont, Verhaeren, and Maeterlinck; His figures are phantom-like and solitary – mask-like faces with harrowing eyes –  that lean towards expressionism, while certain of his landscapes – empty and barren, radically and dynamically geometric – could make him a precursor of the minimalist movement.

The exhibition focuses on the years 1900 to 1919, the most intense in the career of this autodidact beyond classification.  Through his mastery of ink and paper, he creates extraordinary nuances within a restrained color range.  It showcases his most radical works.

Explore the exhibition rooms
Click the Play button to start the slideshow









©Frédérick Evans, L’illustrateur Aubrey Beardsley© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d’Orsay) / Christian Jean
©Léon Spilliaert (1881 – 1946), Portrait de l’artiste par lui-même,1903, Paris, musée d’Orsay, conservé au département des Arts Graphiques du musée du Louvre © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d’Orsay) / Thierry Le Mage