Friday, October 10, 2014

Arty Farty Friday ~ Shock Art : Beardsley & Balthus

A look at two artists who liked to shock. Aubrey Beardsley, about whom I posted back in 2007, a copy of that post is repeated below; and the artist known as Balthus. Of this pair I find Beardsley's art to be far more appealing, and talented. I've considered posting about Balthus a couple of times in the past but balked, due to his paintings' content. Oh, what the heck, may as well make him part of this "shocking" pair!

(This is an extra-long post, so nothing further until Monday.)

#1 Aubrey Beardsley

First From an article HERE by by Erin Smith :
Beardsley expressed a sexuality in his drawings which mocked. the prudishness of the Victorian age, and advocated full freedom to explore sexuality. He shocked Victorians with his grotesque and highly unnatural style, and drawings of nude bodies which were not idealized. Nonetheless, his drawings do not explicitly depict fornication or denigrate women. For these reasons, Beardsley's art can arguably be placed in the sphere of erotica rather than pornography.

Though he was an important leader during the "Decadence" and an innovator in Art Nouveau, his art stands out as one of the most shocking and fantastic critiques of Victorian society. Through the medium of his highly symbolic and esoteric drawings, Beardsley revealed the hypocrisy of the Victorian patriarchal social structure. Victorian society tagged his art as controversial because Beardsley became involved with social issues, and supported sexual freedom. However, this was not the strongest reason for his controversy. For repressed Victorians though, Beardsley's most dangerous weapon was his perceptiveness: in his drawings, they could see visual representations of their most latent desires and anxieties.

And from my 2007 post:

Aubrey Beardley may not be a name well-known in the USA. He was an English artist/illustrator of the late 19th century. Homosexual, individualistic, original and an expert draftsman, he lived a short but probably very interesting life. He died of tuberculosis at the young age of 25. He managed to produce a large volume of illustrations for magazines and books in those few years. His work is instantly recognisable.
Born 21 August, 1872 in Brighton, England, according to Astrotheme his time of birth was 5.18pm. I'm skeptical about this, wondering where such precise information came from in a country where time of birth is not routinely recorded. Still - it might be correct, so I've used it. It gives Capricorn rising, Saturn on the ascendant, which may account for the large volume of work he managed to produce in such a short lifespan.

His Sun at 28 Leo is within a degree of the Vertex probably making that area extra sensitive to transits. On the day he died, March 16 1898, Mars was opposing his natal Sun/Vertex from 26* Aquarius.

Natal Mars and Uranus at 1 and 3 Leo tell me where his determined-to-shock originality came from. Mercury in Virgo would have endowed the attention to detail his expert draftsmanship required, being 8th house could account for the sexual content of his work. A Grand Trine in Earth involving Saturn, Mercury and Pluto, which in some people might manifest as a good dose of common sense, because the planets at the birth time given by Astrotheme occupy 8th, 12th and 3rd houses more likely manifest here as an almost obsessive concentration on sex - which I suppose IS earthy !
His bunch of Leo planets ensured he made himself felt in that late 19th century world.

Beardsley was one of those mortals most definitely "born before his time", even so, along with Oscar Wilde and a close group of like-minded friends he brought homosexuality out into the light of day - to the horror of many strait-laced individuals.

"His formally elegant style, inspired in part by Greek vase painting, in which ornamental rhythm of line combines with a perverse and wickedly satiric imagination to create unforgettable images, often hilarious, frequently erotic, and sometimes deeply moving

A highly original creator, he transformed the art of illustration and profoundly influenced artists of his own and subsequent generations.

His expert draftsmanship made his drawings particularly suitable to the technical advances in printing at the end of the nineteenth century. Perhaps most important, however, he came to maturity at a time peculiarly suited to his genius, when theories of decadence and aestheticism gave license to the expression of perverse sexuality and to fetishism of all kinds. His work is sexually frank and, occasionally, pornographic. "

( from here.).

There's an excellent set of 4 videos (each 10 to 15 mins. long) on Beardsley and his work, at YouTube. Here's Part 1, with links to the other 3.

Part 2

part 3

part 4

Google Image has more extreme examples of Beardsley's work.

#2 Balthus

Balthus, pseudonym of Balthazar Klossowski, also spelled Balthasar Klossowsky (born February 29, 1908, Paris, France—died February 18, 2001, La Rossinière, Switzerland), reclusive French painter who, in the midst of 20th-century avant-gardism, explored the traditional categories of European painting: the landscape, the still life, the subject painting, and the portrait. He is best known for his controversial depictions of adolescent girls.
His parents, both artistic and intellectual, from Poland and East Prussia settled in Berlin at the start of World War I. His parents separated before the end of the war and their son divided his time between Germany and Switzerland. His mother's friend, poet Rainer Maria Rilke, encouraged the young would-be artist to publish an early book of his drawings about Mitsou, a lost cat, for which Rilke also contributed a preface.

In 1924 Balthus settled in returned to Paris and studied painting. He was able to support himself from commissions for portraits and stage sets. His paintings at this point were, at first glance, fairly run-of-the-mill interiors and landscapes, but seeming conservative they became controversial
"...the scenes often have an erotic, disturbing atmosphere and are often peopled with pensive adolescent girls. The presence of these languid, dreamy girls has often given rise to charges of pedophilic overtones; however, the artist’s depiction of these girls has also been interpreted as a truthful, evocative portrayal of the awkwardness of adolescence."
He spent the last two decades of the century as a virtual recluse in Switzerland, where he lived in a grand, 18th-century chalet with his second wife. He continued to paint into his 90s.

For more on Balthus and an exhibition of his work see
Bizarre Balthus show reveals artist's fixation with cats and young girls
More character study than retrospective, the Met's provocative new Balthus exhibition has an unsettling undertone,
by Jason Farago at The Guardian (2013).

Cat Fancy
‘Balthus: Cats and Girls’ and ‘The Big New Yorker Book of Cats’

By Jennifer B. McDonald at the NYT Sunday Book Review (2013)

I'm still hesitating about posting images of any of his more controversial paintings. Typing "Balthus" into the Google Image search box will bring up dozens of 'em. Or... here's a video from YouTube showing some of his works; and three reasonably safe ones below, just to prove he really could paint!

 The Cat of La Méditerranée 1949

Born 29 February 1908 at 1:00 PM in Paris, France. Data from Astrodienst.

Two T-squares:
#1 links the opposition of Moon-Jupiter by two square aspects to Mars
#2 links the opposition of Neptune/North node-Uranus by two square aspects to Venus.

Venus (the arts) though in uncomfortable position in that second T-square also has a helpful sextile to Pluto (eroticism).

His Pisces Sun/Mercury is in harmonious trine to Pisces' ruler, Neptune (creativity, dreams, imagination). If birth time is accurate, Neptune is close to the ascendant angle, giving it extra emphasis.

Sun/Mercury and Moon are semi-sextile. The mix of Pisces/Aquarius isn't one of the worst "next-door neighbour mixes", and in Balthus' case does kind of describe his gravitation to imagined scenes with an element of shock involved.

Hmmm. Could be an uncomfortable chart, but with forgiving features, and fairly well balanced element-wise.


mike said...

That Victorian era...prudes on the outside, lascivious beasts on the inside. So many artists and authors from that era sacrificed their careers and livelihood to express themselves...not to mention they were thought to be complete perverts. I'm not sure our more modern era ever completely left the Victorian era...the 1950s and 1960s had many similarities.

No time for a lengthy comment today...whew! Found a tiny Yorkshire terrier puppy wondering the busy street this morning. Well groomed, playful, cute as can be. I called the "lost pet hotline" two hours ago, but no responders. Hmmmm. He's a bit of a handful, though...quite active.

Twilight said...

mike ~ What a good thing he found you !

Sonny G said...

aww a puppy..

let us know what happens Mike.. He's a lucky lil fella..I'm thinking Mikey would be a cute name:-)

the men you posted about seem rather mild compared to what I know is out there now, that folks call art..

change of meds for me.. feeling better this evening and will be seeking alernative methods of help to go along with the med stuff.

Twilight said...

Sonny ~ Yes, mild in some ways, but the pedophilia thing has been in the news lately, especially in the UK - so I was not too keen to have any of those types of pics front and centre!

Very pleased to know you're feeling better this evening. Stay strong! :-)

LB said...

Twilight ~ Enjoy your break this weekend. Don't know how you manage to produce so much on such a consistent basis!

I think you're right about Aubrey's Mars-Uranus conjunction.:0 Before I even looked at his chart I figured he must have something significant in Gemini, which he does, the North Node.

Ruler of his NN, Mercury, is placed in the 8th, conjunct Venus and square the Nodes. The outlet for the T-Square energy would've been his 2nd house, ruled by Pisces - which would be good for artistic expression.

mike ~ Hope you'll keep us posted about your new furry friend.:) Good luck finding his family.

Sonny ~ Glad you're feeling better. Maybe the Eclipse stirred things up.

Twilight said...

LB ~
Thanks. Thought I'd let the blog float for the weekend. Atmospheric pressure changes here, and Ragweed pollen, have been giving me migraine-ish headaches. That's improved somewhat today, thank goodness probably via storms last night. Also I'm dealing with aftermath of (I suppose, though not certain) recent eclipses, squares to natal planets etc. For me this manifests as recurrence of a painful left foot problem I had back in the 1990s. Hoping it'll heal quicker than 2 years this time! At least I know what to do about it now.
Anyway, it's not deadly serious, just a bit painful to walk and footwear irritates, so have been "shut-in" for days.

Re Aubrey Beardsley He looked like Gemini too, I think. I've always admired his work, for its high quality rather than for any "eroticism". I first came across it in our local library (which I used to haunt) when I was a teenager. They had some old copies of The Yellow Book containing some of his pieces.

LB said...

Twilight ~ Sorry about your head and food pain. How frustrating to be hit at both ends! Hope you feel better very soon, much sooner than last time, in the case of your foot.

Aubrey does look like a Gemini, also I think his art has an intellectual feel, or maybe that's just the way it comes across to me.:)

LB said...

Adding how if I was there I'd offer you Reiki.

My husband (whose 12th house Mars in Pisces is opposite his 6th house Virgo Moon) frequently has foot issues and *loves* it when I lay my hands on his feet.

If you're interested (and open-minded), I could try sending you distant Reiki. Don't know if it'll help but it couldn't hurt.:)

Except for my husband, I haven't used it much this way, but if you're game so am I. Just let me know.:)

mike (again) said...

The puppy, Maxwell, has been reunited with his humans. He's 8 months old, so he tested his wander lust instincts, but shame on his humans for putting him outside to do business unattended. No collar or tag on him, either. I had him for six hours and was beginning to plot his life's course when they came for him...LOL. I had a great deal of trouble doing anything with him around...he even wanted in the shower with me and I had to keep pushing him out.

LB, I had no idea reiki could be performed at a distance. I just did a search and was surprised at the hits. Happy birthday (whenever it is), LB!

Sonny, I hope the blues have turned into calm. The astrology of late has been intense for many.

Twilight, sorry to know that familiar ailments are visiting you...better the ones you know than the ones you don't know. Magnesium is known to help alleviate migraines. Don't know if you happen to have any on hand. If you have epsom salts around, it is magnesium teaspoon is an adult magnesium daily requirement...take a half teaspoon in water twice a day.

I have recurrent nummular dermatitis on my legs, which has an unknown etiology, is non-contagious, and not much is available prescription-wise. It's absolutely horrid when I have it and it can have a duration of several years. I found that curcumin (turmeric extract) works wonders and I've been able to almost eliminate it.

Take a gander at these photos:;_ylt=A0LEVxDfyDlU4EkACuVXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTB0dmM3ajNiBHNlYwNzYwRjb2xvA2JmMQR2dGlkA1NNRTY5N18x?_adv_prop=image&fr=moz35&va=foot+nummular+dermatitis

LB said...

mike ~ Thanks for the good wishes, but I'm hanging onto my youth for a while longer.

Funny about your little friend trying to shower with you! He must have strong water influences in his chart - maybe something significant conjunct one of your 6th house (house of small pets) Scorpio placements, which would help explain him showing up in your life. Lucky for him.

mike (again) said...


Nice music, too.

Twilight said...

LB and mike ~ Thanks for your thoughts and good wishes,

Not sure whether Reiki would help, LB, my problem is skin/venous insufficiency to foot. Back in the 1990s a metal decoration on a sandal burned the top of my foot. It caused a deep ulcer which was very hard to heal due, I discovered, to a faulty vein in the area. I have to bind my leg from knee to toe with compression bandage on top of a dressing.

It's sore and I can't bear footwear yet. Suddenly for no apparent reason the skin on top of my foot started playing up again about a week or so ago. Not wounded as deeply as before. It feels more like a burn in several places. I'll be off to the doc if no improvement this week. I'm wary of that though. Last time the nurses initially made it worse (that was back in the UK though).

Migraine much improved today - thank goodness.

Thanks mike - that is probably near to my problem, but not dermatitis - it's too ultra skin in that particular area.

Glad to hear the wee Yorkie is back home safely. Maybe you'll meet him again when out and about - hopefully on a lead this time.

Happy Birthday to LB from me too - whenever it comes up. :-)

Twilight said...

Sorry - that should read "it's ultra delicate skin". It's bedtime, bleary eyes. :-)

LB said...

Twilight ~ One end down, one to go. Good your head feels a bit better - hope your foot follows suit and heals sooner rather than later. Sounds painful.:(

My birthday is in about a week - thanks for the early good wishes!

Twilight said...

LB ~ thank you. And thank you for your offer of remote Reiki. If this persists I will take you up on it. For now, I'll see how things are going. Husband wants me to go to the doc - I shall do that in a couple of days, if things don't improve. Excedrin Extra is keeping the painfulness to a minimum today, but supposed to take no more than 2 in 24 hours.

Nice time to have a b'day - the Fall.
It'll be near the cusp for you. One of husband's grandsons has a birthday 22nd. 22nd features several times in his family - his is 22 March, a son 22 August, one I can't remember too.
Different months same number. :-)