Items from the Mark Samuels Lasner Collection, which is part of the University of Delaware Library, Museums and Press, are now on view in a new exhibition, Aubrey Beardsley, 150 Years Young, at the Grolier Club, New York City. Curated by Mark Samuels Lasner, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Delaware Library, Museums, and Press, and Margaret D. Stetz, Mae and Robert Carter Professor of Women’s Studies in the Department of Women & Gender Studies, the exhibition is on view in the Grolier Club’s second floor gallery through November 12. An online version of the exhibition is available at https://grolierclub.omeka.net/exhibits/show/beardsley-2022.
Presented on the anniversary of Aubrey Beardsley’s 150th birthday, this special exhibition explores the meteoric rise of Beardsley (1872–1898), a monumental figure in book and magazine illustration, graphic arts, and poster design, as well as the history of gender and sexuality. During Beardsley’s brief career from 1892 to 1898, cut short by his death from tuberculosis, he was a brilliant innovator in the British Art Nouveau and Decadent movements, creating daring black-and-white images for periodicals such as the Yellow Book and the Savoy, and for books published by the Bodley Head and Leonard Smithers. He was equally famous as the consummate “bad boy,” using his images to satirize Victorian norms of conduct and push gender and sexual boundaries. The exhibition highlights the rebellious and insouciant quality of his art and writing, celebrating the eternally young Beardsley.
Aubrey Beardsley, 150 Years Young features approximately seventy works, including unpublished letters and original drawings, rarely seen posters, periodicals, books, photographs, and ephemera. Highlights include original drawings for the Yellow Book and Savoy, illustrations for Oscar Wilde’s Salome, and a recently discovered drawing of the “key” for the back cover and spine of Keynotes, the bestselling 1893 volume of bold feminist stories by “George Egerton.” The exhibition also includes a heavily illustrated letter to a former schoolmate from August 1891 and an illustrated edition of The Lysistrata of Aristophanes: Now First Wholly Translated into English and Illustrated with Eight Full-page Drawings by Aubrey Beardsley (1896), which contains some of the artist’s most erotic and satirical drawings.
The Groiler Club will host related public programs, including curator talks “In Bed with Beardsley” by Margaret D. Stetz and “Beardsleyophily” by Mark Samuels Lasner on Friday, October 7, 2022 at 6–7:30pm; and public lunchtime exhibition tours on Wednesday, October 12, 2022 and Wednesday, November 9, 2022, both from 1–2pm.