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The Flowers of Evil Still Bloom, Spleen: Les Fleurs Du Mal

Cueto Project
551 West 21st Street, 212-299-2221
November 6, 2008 - January 10, 2009
Web Site


Since my school years when I studied symbolism with Mme Geneviève Lacambre (former curator at the Gustave Moreau Museum) at l’Ecole du Louvre, I have been passionate about this multiple-faceted artistic movement. For me, Symbolism opened Pandora’s box of forbidden images by revealing to my eyes reality in its gritty particularity and those representations hidden by the ideal and the moral.

During a casual conversation with my journalist friend Roxana Azimi last May, we mentioned the revival of the Symbolist movement within the works of the Surrealists as well as in many artists’ works of our contemporary era. This discussion developed into an intense exchange of ideas from which was born the exhibit concept for “Spleen: les Fleurs du Mal.”

The idea is to transform the 4,000 ft of my gallery, located in the heart of the New York City Chelsea art district at 551 W 21st, into an apartment. Each room, the walls covered in black, gold, red, and purple textiles, will be inspired by a key character of the symbolist imaginary. The exhibition will begin with a dedication to Baudelaire, from whose poetry was derived the impetus for the Symbolist movement and the title for this show. This first room will be adorned in gold, representative of the luxury and sensuality that was essential in the mind of Baudelaire, as well as to Oedipus and to the Sphynx, messenger of intriguing questions. Beyond this room will be the dining room of Des Esseintes (the principal character of Joris-Karl Huysmans’ novel, À Rebours), the bedroom of Edgar Allan Poe, Freud’s psychoanalyst cabinet of Gradiva, and Dorian Gray’s library, as described in Oscar Wilde’s celebrated novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. In each room, works by symbolist and contemporary artists will together weave a strange, mystical, and decadent message. To illustrate, the nineteenth century works of Odilon Redon’s Araignée (“Spider”) and Gustave Moreau’s Salome will interact with the contemporary canvases of Axel Pahlavi’s La Petite Mort and Damien Hirst’s Who is Afraid of the Dark? (fly painting). The final piece will be a recreation of “le repas noir” (the black meal) of Des Esseintes. Furniture and other decorative objects will also be included to reinforce the atmosphere of le fin de siècle.

Valerie Cueto

The exhibition will take place 06 November 2008 through 10 January 2009.


Arman – Artists Anonymous – Bachelot Caron – Rina Banerjee – Matthew Barney – Hans Bellmer -Jacob Boeskov – The Bruce High Quality Foundation – Camille Claudel – Nicolas Darrot – Maurice Denis – Damien Deroubaix – Jeanne Detallante – James Ensor – Laurent Esquerré – Lin Esser – Gabríela Friðriksdóttir – Léon Gérôme – Damien Hirst – Claudia Huidobro – Natacha Ivanova – Thomas Lerooy – Lucien Levy-Dhumer – Fernand Khnopff – Gustav Klimt – Dawn Mellor – Pierre Molinier – Adolphe Mossa – Gustave Moreau – Florence Obrecht – Francis Picabia – Axel Pahlavi – Bruno Perramant – Sabine Pigalle – Paul Elie Ranson – Odilon Redon – Auguste Rodin – Félicien Rops – Tanja Roscic – Boo Saville – Stephane Sednaoui – Loredana Sperini – Edouard Stellmacher Florence Obrecht – Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir aka Shoplifter – Marko Velk – Franz von Stück – Jean Luc Verna – Vuk Vidor – Fritz Welch – Viktor Wynd
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