Manuel Orazi’s Fleurs du Mal

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This collection of Baudelaire’s poems with illustrations by French artist Manuel Orazi (1860–1934) didn’t turn up when I was searching for illustrated editions a few years ago. With over 50 full-page drawings or vignettes it’s more profusely illustrated than most. It’s also more determinedly erotic than most, concentrating on depictions of female flesh at the expense of the poet’s other themes; Orazi’s fleurs on the title pages are a succession of priapic or vaginal orchids and fungi. The book was published in 1934, which means it was probably the last thing that Orazi worked on, but it resembles something from the fin de siècle, especially the work of Félicien Rops. Browse it or download it here.

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Max Ernst’s favourites

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The cover for the Max Ernst number of View magazine (April, 1942) that appears in Charles Henri Ford’s View: Parade of the Avant-Garde was one I didn’t recall seeing before. This was a surprise when I’d spent some time searching for back issues of the magazine. The conjunction of Ernst with Buer, one of the perennially popular demons drawn by Louis Le Breton for De Plancy’s Dictionnaire Infernal, doubles the issue’s cult value in my eyes. I don’t know whether the demon was Ernst’s choice but I’d guess so when many of the De Plancy illustrations resemble the hybrid creatures rampaging through Ernst’s collages. Missing from the Ford book is the spread below which uses more De Plancy demons to decorate lists of the artist’s favourite poets and painters. I’d have preferred a selection of favourite novelists but Ford was a poet himself (he also co-wrote an early gay novel with Parker Tyler, The Young and Evil), and the list is still worth seeing.

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Poets: Charles Baudelaire, Friedrich Hölderlin, Alfred Jarry, Edgar Allan Poe, George Crabbe, Guillaume Apollinaire, Walt Whitman, Comte de Lautréamont, Robert Browning, Arthur Rimbaud, William Blake, Achim von Arnim, Victor Hugo, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, William Shakespeare, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lewis Carroll, Novalis, Heinrich Heine, Solomon (presumably the author of the Song of Solomon).

Painters: Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Giovanni Bellini, Hieronymus Bosch, Matthias Grünewald, Albrecht Altdorfer, Georges Seurat, Piero della Francesca, Paolo Uccello, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Hans Baldung, Vittore Carpaccio, Leonardo Da Vinci, Cosimo Tura, Carlo Crivelli, Giorgio de Chirico, Henri Rousseau, Francesco del Cossa, Piero di Cosimo, NM Deutsch (Niklaus Manuel), Vincent van Gogh.

I’ve filled out the names since some of the typography isn’t easy to read. Some of the choices are also uncommon, while one of them—NM Deutsch—is not only a difficult name to search for but the attribution has changed in recent years. The list of poets contains few surprises but it’s good to see that Poe made an impression on Ernst; the choice of painters is less predictable. Bruegel, Bosch and Rousseau are to be expected, and the same goes for the German artists—Grünewald, Baldung—whose work is frequently grotesque or erotic. But I wouldn’t have expected so many names from the Italian Renaissance, and Seurat is a genuine surprise. As for Ernst’s only living contemporary, Giorgio de Chirico, this isn’t a surprise at all but it reinforces De Chirico’s importance. If you removed Picasso from art history De Chirico might be the most influential painter of the 20th century; his Metaphysical works had a huge impact on the Dada generation, writers as well as artists, and also on René Magritte who was never a Dadaist but who lost interest in Futurism when he saw a reproduction of The Song of Love (1914). Picasso’s influence remains rooted in the art world while De Chirico’s disquieting dreams extend their shadows into film and literature, so it’s all the more surprising that this phase of his work was so short lived. But that’s a discussion for another time.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Viewing View
De Plancy’s Dictionnaire Infernal
Max Ernst album covers
Maximiliana oder die widerrechtliche Ausübung der Astronomie
Max and Dorothea
Dreams That Money Can Buy
La femme 100 têtes by Eric Duvivier

The art of Rafael Romero Calvet, 1885–1925

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Recent picture research turned up another illustrator whose work I hadn’t seen before. Rafael Romero Calvet was Spanish, and the dates above aren’t necessarily accurate (he may have been born in 1884). He did die young, however, and probably too soon to make more of an impact outside the magazines he was working for. The covers here are all from Los Contemporáneos, a Spanish publication that ran from 1909 to 1926. Many of Calvet’s covers—dating from 1909–1910—are grotesque and macabre enough to suit Der Orchideengarten, although that magazine wouldn’t be launched for another ten years.

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There’s more of Calvet’s work at Wikimedia Commons, while this feature at Collectors Weekly has a glimpse of his cover for Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal.

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Weekend links 312

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The Shadow by Kenton Nelson.

• The week in Coil: An interview by Derek de Koff, plus an extract from the new edition of England’s Hidden Reverse by David Keenan. Opening later this month at Ludwig, Berlin, is Chaostrophy, a Coil-related exhibition/celebration.

Strange Flowers remembers the incomparable Marchesa Casati, a woman who happens to feature in the book I’ve been designing and illustrating for the past few weeks. (More about that later.)

• “It wasn’t about how we could meet the demands of the book, but rather how the book meets us.” Ben Wheatley (again) talking to Jamie Sherry about bringing High-Rise to the screen.

• The latest release from Hawthonn is Sea-Spiral Spirit. The album has two accompanying videos: Pan Laws and Last Chimes From A Dormant Moon.

Alan Moore celebrates Chris Petit’s The Psalm Killer—a nerve-shredding Irish noir.

• Not a mix but a reading guide: The Brit Horror Mixtape collated by Mark West.

• More Penda’s Fen: Graham Fuller on the Romantic tradition in British film.

• Previews of Tooth by Raime, “a steadfast concoction of brooding dystopia”.

• “How big an issue is the nausea problem for Virtual Reality products?”

• FACT chooses 16 of the best songs powered by Sly and Robbie.

Geeta Dayal on the pioneering computer music of Bell Labs.

• Mix of the week: Finders Keepers’ Space Rock Special.

Paul Schütze: The True Art of Fine Fragrance

The Surrealist Legacy of Claude Lalanne

Les illustrateurs de Baudelaire

• RIP publisher Peter Owen

• Perfumed Garden Of Gulliver Smith (1967) by John’s Children | Perfumed Metal (1981) by Chrome | Fragrance (Ode To Perfume) (1981) by Holger Czukay

Paul Laffoley, 1940–2015

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Alchemy: The Telnomic Process of the Universe (1973).

Another week, another incomparable artist gone. This small selection of Laffoley’s unique art and sculpture manages to combine references to (among other things) alchemy, William Blake, Charles Baudelaire, Oscar Wilde, HP Lovecraft, Mark of the Vampire, and Night of the Demon. And this is only a fraction of his work. Richard Metzger has a memorial post at Dangerous Minds together with more paintings and some video links. There’s more at the official website and Kent Fine Art. It’s good to read that the University of Chicago Press will be publishing The Essential Paul Laffoley in March, 2016.

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The Death and Life of Monsieur Sebastian Melmoth: Au Théâtre du Grand Guignol (2001–2003).

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The Solitron (1997).

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