Event Title

Pornocrates and The French Decadent Movement

Research Mentor(s)

Sapin, Julia

Description

Inherently, a work titled Pornocrates exudes scandal, intrigue, and allure. Created in 1878 by Felicien Rops, the gouache and pencil piece was displayed at the Les XX exhibition of 1886. Felicien Rops was a wealthy Belgian-born artist who collaborated alongside the likes of Claude Monet, Odilon Redon, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Rops’s works articulated more diabolical motifs and grotesque sexual imagery than both his Impressionist and Symbolist contemporaries. As a result, his artworks are far less circulated and research surrounding Rops is scarce. This does not mean he was the only artist creating taboo media, however. Decadent art which depicted debauchery, excess, and sin was fairly present, especially in France. Rops collaborated with many playwrights, authors, and poets at the end of the 19th century, and was surprisingly popular among wealthy socialites of Paris and Brussels. Rops participated in many coalitions of artists across Europe, but the Les XX society is arguably one of the most significant. Artists, authors, and musicians exhibited their works and celebrated individualized aesthetics rather than a unified, nationalistic style. The group rejected a specific political or regional identity, which contributed to the notion of Belgium as a center for the Avant Garde. Rops’s display of Pornocrates elicited shock and commotion among the artists for its uncensored, sexual critique of high society men and women. This essay aims to synthesize some of the scholarship surrounding the display of Pornocrates and serves to further highlight the significance of Decadent art in the Fin de Siècle period.

Document Type

Event

Start Date

May 2020

End Date

May 2020

Department

Art, Art History

Genre/Form

student projects, posters

Type

Image

Rights

Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this document for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author’s written permission.

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

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Pornocrates and The French Decadent Movement

Inherently, a work titled Pornocrates exudes scandal, intrigue, and allure. Created in 1878 by Felicien Rops, the gouache and pencil piece was displayed at the Les XX exhibition of 1886. Felicien Rops was a wealthy Belgian-born artist who collaborated alongside the likes of Claude Monet, Odilon Redon, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Rops’s works articulated more diabolical motifs and grotesque sexual imagery than both his Impressionist and Symbolist contemporaries. As a result, his artworks are far less circulated and research surrounding Rops is scarce. This does not mean he was the only artist creating taboo media, however. Decadent art which depicted debauchery, excess, and sin was fairly present, especially in France. Rops collaborated with many playwrights, authors, and poets at the end of the 19th century, and was surprisingly popular among wealthy socialites of Paris and Brussels. Rops participated in many coalitions of artists across Europe, but the Les XX society is arguably one of the most significant. Artists, authors, and musicians exhibited their works and celebrated individualized aesthetics rather than a unified, nationalistic style. The group rejected a specific political or regional identity, which contributed to the notion of Belgium as a center for the Avant Garde. Rops’s display of Pornocrates elicited shock and commotion among the artists for its uncensored, sexual critique of high society men and women. This essay aims to synthesize some of the scholarship surrounding the display of Pornocrates and serves to further highlight the significance of Decadent art in the Fin de Siècle period.