Les Fleurs Du Mal

Few books have had more impact on modern literature than Charles Baudelaire’s compendium of poems, Les Fleurs du Mal. Exploring humanity’s many contradictions, Les Fleurs du Mal’s melancholic and erotic verse ensconce the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the spleen and the ideal. With the poems’ rich symbolism and lexicon, it is not surprising that the poet’s masterpiece has inspired generations of artists to interpret his work through illustration. This online exhibition traces the evolution of the art of the book, or book arts, over the past two centuries through the common factor of Baudelaire and his poems. Although scholars debate the taxonomy of “artist’s books,” livres d’artistes, deluxe editions, and book illustration, there is no doubt that the various editions of Les Fleurs du Mal featured here are works of art. Experience this “illustrated history” through thirty-three unique editions, all of which reside in the W.T. Bandy Center for Baudelaire and Modern French Studies. They are organized in chronological order from the prized first edition of 1857 to one of the latest artistic interpretations, Alain Bonnefoit’s stunning 2011 masterpiece. Click any one of the title pages below to immerse yourself into the world of that edition, its artist, Baudelaire, and Les Fleurs du Mal

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