The Yellow Book, Beardsley, and the Avant-Garde

I was intrigued by the contrast in Aubrey Beardsley’s art. The front cover and the “Portrait of Madame Réjane” both utilize very different styles. The art on the front cover utilizes bolder and darker lines to create strong contrasts that will grab the attention of a passerby. In this sense, Beardsley takes into consideration the consumer and marketing context of the Yellow Book. This reminds me of how detailed and aware of their space artists were in an increasingly commercialized world. We looked at that briefly in “The Art of the Hoarding.” The “Portrait of Madame Réjane,” however, is subtler. It is the costume, as we discussed in class, that consumes her figure. I also found it interesting that, already, in Volume II, editors are breaking what they have promised to readers in that the art is not meant to illustrate any text. Here, we see that Beardsley’s “Portrait of Madame Réjane” clearly links to Dauphin Meunier’s “Madame Réjane.” Perhaps this ties in with the idea of the avant-garde as the Yellow Book’s brand. They are remaining contemporary and popular through contradictions to their own statements about their magazine. Essentially, this would place them firmly against tradition as they wished.

19 October, 2020

Sabrina Pavelic

Comments are closed.