Jacques de Bascher is an exhibition about a great artist whose only artwork was his life. De Bascher died young (1951-1989), but he became a vital figure of the 70’s and 80’s. He was a famous seducer, dripping with glory and shrouded in darkness. He was a romantic aesthete, an insatiable night owl, and a decadent muse. He played a particularly important role in the life of fashion genius, Karl Lagerfeld, who out of love and sublimation, took care of him until his death.
Little remains of his material life: a few handwritten letters, a fur jacket, spotted flannel pajamas. His professional life is just as unintelligible: a film for Fendi, a few articles in L'Uomo Vogue, the written trace of his participation in the theatrical adaptation of "The Leather Man". Throughout his life, he took on multiple roles: a simple canoeist, a prim anglophile from a time when French writers could not imagine themselves without a penpal across the Channel, a Prussian soldier embodying the imperial fantasy of a defeated Mitteleuropa, a fin-de-siècle ether addict and deviant aristocrat pledging allegiance to Gilles de Rais, a gloved "leather-boy" from Castro Street in the phase of asserting his homosexuality. He based his masks, costumes, and affectations on a dizzying arsenal of references such as Durtal, the anti-hero in Huysman's Là-Bas; Baron Maximilian von Heune; Lord Lyllian's masses; or the sordid scenes in Jésus-la- Caille. His ethos fascinated his descendants and continue to make him stand out today.
The 70's were accelerated times, and his life was both intensely tied to this era and yet so anachronistic. This temporal paradox gave him a kind of gravity, even a sense of tragedy. From this tension, he drew unparalleled energy and magnetism. Electrified by cum, oil, and cocaine, his life was almost motorized, in constant combustion, cutting aerodynamic lines into his physique. He sped in and out of clubs, the scenes of his expenses. He reached his climax with his Black Moratorium at La Main Bleue where fishnets, fist-fucking, and foils drowned in the smell emanating from amyl nitrite bottles.
Jacques de Bascher was one of those so-called unreasonable men who preferred to die rather than to work without spirit and pleasure. At the price of exhaustion and destruction, he made his lifework, his oeuvre, about the intensified present. Was he trying to say to André Léon Talley in Interview Magazine that his life was heading for a beautiful fall? He said, "Decadent comes from the Latin cadere, which means to fall. To be decadent is a way to fall in beauty. It's a very slow movement, very beautiful. It can be a form of suicide in beauty." Jacques de Bascher, or one second of eternity for a patron of nothingness.