Sunday, July 19, 2009

Letter M Tchotchke - Matchboxes

M = Matchboxes

These empty matchboxes were purchased at an estate sale – I think I paid about $5 for them.

I can’t find anything that indicates that these were designed by Aubrey Beardsley, except for the initials “A.B” on the front and that many of them are done in his distinctive black and white ornate style, but with lots of geometrics and graphic designs mixed in. I think it’s a pretty safe bet that they’re his.I keep some of them in this display case.
From wikipedia...

Aubrey Beardsley was the most controversial artist of the Art Nouveau era, renowned for his dark and perverse images and the grotesque erotica, which were the main themes of his later work. Some of his drawings, inspired by Japanese shunga, featured enormous genitalia. His most famous erotic illustrations were on themes of history and mythology, including his illustrations for Aristophanes' Lysistrata and Wilde's Salomé. Beardsley was also a caricaturist and did some political cartoons, mirroring Wilde's irreverent wit in art.

Beardsley's work reflected the decadence of his era and his influence was enormous, clearly visible in the work of the French Symbolists, the Poster art Movement of the 1890s and the work of many later-period Art Nouveau artist.

Most of his images are done in ink, and feature large dark areas contrasted with large blank ones, and areas of fine detail contrasted with areas with none at all. Wilde said he had "a face like a silver hatchet, and grass green hair." Beardsley was meticulous about his attire: dove-grey suits, hats, ties; yellow gloves. He would appear at his publisher's in a morning coat and patent leather pumps. Although Beardsley was aligned with the homosexual clique that included Oscar Wilde and other English aesthetes, the details of his sexuality remain in question. He was generally regarded as asexual—which is hardly surprising, considering his chronic illness and his devotion to his work.

Through his entire career, Beardsley had recurrent attacks of the disease that would end it. He suffered frequent lung hemorrhages and was often unable to work or leave his home. Beardsley was active till his death in Menton, France, at the age of 25 on 16 March 1898 [6], of tuberculosis.

I’m surprised to learn that he was only 25 when he died.

The Tchotchke challenge is led by Pam J. Feel free to join our little meme and post something for letter N!

You may have noticed that my photos are of particularly bad quality lately. I have been using my camera phone exclusively since I lost my camera at Arrow Park two weekends ago. My other camera is in my car, which has been in the repair shop. Apologies and I hope it doesn't scare you away forever.


Lzyjo said...

It's always so sad to read about people who died so prematurely, often at the height of their career. Last night I read about Patsy's Cline demise at 30. It's so sad. Very interesting about Beardsley. I like his simple graphic style and it does indeed remind me of Japanese paintings. I love your matchbox collection, it looks great in the California Job Case.

tina said...

Such a young age to die. I like how you have those matchboxes displayed. They look really good.

Lzyjo said...

Don't worry about the photos I would have never known the difference. Quite a while ago my uncle, a professional photographer, went to a seminar led by a NatGeo photographer, who showed astounded evidence that high quality photos could be taken with camera phones, regardless of Megapixels.

Joanne said...

Wow, after reading his bio here, I was really surprised at his young death. He was very accomplished, indeed, to have done all this work by his mid-20s!

Sorry about losing your camera, not fun :( I didn't notice a difference in quality, though.

brigit said...

What a great score those matchboxes are! I love Beardsley's work, but had no idea he died so young. For some unknown reason I always imagined him older.

What a shame about your camera. However it takes more than a good camera to take a good photo, and you do take good photos.