All Writing & Content © Nick Kushner Unless Noted Otherwise
"During The Renaissance, when they wished to imitate Immortal Greece, they produced Raphael. Ingres wished to imitate Raphael, and became Ingres. Cezanne wished to imitate Poussin, and thus became Cezanne. Dali wanted to imitate Meissonier and THE RESULT WAS DALI. Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing."Salvador Dali
from Dali by Dali
PRELUDE: THE GOLDEN AGE OF GROTESQUE | Before Tim Skold had publicly joined the band, Manson and his new collaborating partner would give a glimpse of some of the imagery which would unfold into 'The Golden Age of Grotesque'. Hinted at in the video for 'Tainted Love' in the Fall of 2001, it was the movie premier of 'Resident Evil' which Manson & composed the score of that the new aesthetic of the band would be unveiled in public.
With John 5 dressed as a GQ vampire, Manson in Black Face (which he would later wear onstage during 'The Grotesk Burlesk' and in photographs with Gottfried Helnwein), Tim Skold appeared in the most striking guise and was a reference to an Austrian artist's performance piece almost 50 years prior.
THE GROTESK BURLESK | Narcotics, Degradation & Decadence of Weimer Germany. 'The Golden Age of Grotesque' sought out to recapture the element of excitement, decadence and the unrestrained 'live for today because there is no future' ethos of post-war Weimar Germany and the late Nineteenth Century, absinthe infused Parisian nightlife.
The following is a miscellaneous presentation of various images from and inspired by the era which Manson has evoked both onstage as well as in artwork and music video.
SPADE & SEX MURDER | Certainly one of the most 'Grotesque' elements 'of The Golden Age' is that which the song Spade is about; 'Lustmord' or 'Sex Murder'. To reflect the degradation and depravity of the culture of the time, particularly in Weimar Germany after World War I was the artistic fascination of sex murder. The subject is not one that was by any means invented at the time period as it is a prominent and underlying aspect that has always existed in the human psyche, championed by de Sade, enacted by Jack The Ripper and analyzed by Freud. Like de Sade, who worshiped women and esteemed them as divine, and misconstrued completely as mere misogyny, giving a woman such power over a man's heart also gives her the power to destroy it. And with that destruction is the natural human instinct to reclaim what had been usurped, which is the what Sex Murder answers towards.
DOPPELHERZ | The limited edition film directed by Manson which came with The Golden Age Of Grotesque, Manson has said, is a stream of conscious directly into the mind and ethos of who and what Marilyn Manson is. Many elements of and in The Golden Age Of Grotesque, as Manson has said, are what they are in that they aren't meant to be "understood" via conventional means, they exist and they're in existence to be absorbed and taken in for what they are. DOPPELHERZ is this stream of conscious into the very personal mind of Marilyn Manson, unhindered and unobscured by any metaphors of previous eras, which have been thoroughly misunderstood by many, the thoughts plain and pure; abstract expressions like DaDa. In its writing/creation Manson ordered everyone else outside of the recording studio, laid out all of his open notebooks and recorded as each thought as it came to create what has been made.
THE ARCH DANDY OF DADA, AUBREY BEARDSLEY & OSCAR WILDE | "I'd like to think of myself as the arch dandy of the era", as Manson likened himself to a new persona while composing 'The Golden Age Of Grotesque', and this new demagogue emerged. The term 'Dandy' came to be with popular artistic and poetic association in the latter half of the 19th century heralding the new rebirth and era of decadence in art, poetry and expressionism. A Dandy can be described as an individual in the arts, with radical political and social views, an often shocking style and manner of dress which is often androgynous. The term was popularized by the expressionists of the era such as Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley, and notably associated to Dadaist fellow Raoul Hausmann in Hannah Höch's 1919 photomontage 'Da Dandy'.
MARLENE DIETRICH | Marlene Dietrich is someone who needs little introduction. Aside from being one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood ever she came to personify glamour, beauty, elegance and decadence in the 1930's. She also later went on to represent and symbolize freedom and expressionism, as she was a German expatriate who became an anti- Nazi activist. Which for all of those reasons made her an influence on 'The Golden Age Of Grotesque.'
'ELIZABETH SHORT AS SNOW WHITE' - MANSON & THE BLACK DHALIA | "This week was strenuous and I landed myself in the hospital as a result of "going too far" in the creation process. I am fine now and glad to be back in the studio. We have just completed the last track for the album and it is my favorite so far. I also started a series of life-size paintings of Elizabeth Short's bizarre death. It has haunted me all my life. "
Manson posting to his online Journal in July 2002. Within are Manson's watercolor series of The Black Dahlia, entitled 'Elizabeth Short as Snow White' and the original crime scene photos the paintings are based on.
MANSON, THE KNIFE | Kurt Weill, a German musician who came to fame in the 1920's, was most famous for writing the score for the theatrical piece 'The Threepenny Opera', by his contemporary Bertold Brecht, and is the composer of the very famous song 'Mack The Knife'. Manson has cited Weill a number of times as an influence on 'The Golden Age Of Grotesque', both for work and the reflection of the time period and context his work took place in, 1920's Germany predominantly. During a handful of solo performances of the 'Grotesk Burlesk' Manson sang, along with 'The Dope Show' and the album's title track, Weill's well known 'Alabama Song' or 'Whiskey Bar', a tune notoriously covered by other such musical legends as David Bowie and Jim Morrison.
PARANOIAC - DALI & NIETZSCHE'S MUSTACHE | "I've been in the bored room this past month trying to explain the difference between a night club and a night stick to a pile of idiots, who for the life of them, could not see the connection betwixt the moustache of Dali and the 'mustache' of Nietzsche. I have put the dirt back in my mouth and drank from the dead, regardless of what these powdered wig witch doctors prescribed. We will not be censored."
Dali and Nietzsche are two iconoclasts which Manson has invoked and sought inspiration from the beginning of the band to 1996's Antichrist Svperstar being a quoted tribute to the work of the latter. An offhanded remark from 2003 that Manson in his Journal made reference to a telling 1963 quote by Dali which demonstrated some of Manson's inspirations for 'The Golden Age'.
THE MEAT SHOW | "I'm most monster with my groan box / In the 'Meat Show." In 'The Golden Age of Grotesque', the idea of reuniting religion, sex and art along with mocking traditional forms of religion (and Christianity above all) becomes a matter of great importance for Manson. The Meat Show is an installation that was organized by Robert Delford Brown, for that very objective, in 1964 in New York and is mentioned by Manson in the song 'The Bright Young Things'
GOLDEN AGE OF GROTESQUE DIAMOND | The symbol of The Golden Age of Grotesque era is a regular black rhomb with a double white border against a black background, the outer border is thicker than the inner one. There are two stylized white capital M letters inscribed within the rhomb.
Aside from the SS insignia the specific outline of two M letters goes back to the Nazi Eagle, one of the main symbols of fascist Germany that embodies strength, power and might. In this context, by viewing the Marilyn Manson MM as representative of two eagles this is not-accidental connotation, as in alchemy the double eagle is a sign of Androgyne; Mercury.
RODENT DEATH'S HEAD | Alternate logo utilized onstage and accompanying tour program of 'The Golden Age of Grotesque'. The inversion of the traditional Nazi SS styled death's head amalgamated with a familiar pair of cartoon rodent ears. An extension of the artistic collaborations with controversial artist, Gottfried Helnwein, this more incendiary logo does in turn represent the very satirical themes Manson wished to portray throughout the album and era.
MARILYN MANSON'S ONLINE JOURNAL | The complete audio / visual archive of Marilyn Manson online journal between 2002 - 2004. First hand chronicling Manson's thoughts, the creation of 'The Golden Age of Grotesque' and Manson's own artwork. Now defunct and exclusively archived in complete form by The NACHTKABARETT of this former staple of MarilynManson.com.
MARILYNMANSON.COM - GOLDEN AGE OF GROTESQUE ERA | MarilynManson.com was very complimental to the themes and imagery which influence the album throughout this era. Though The Golden Age of Grotesque gave birth to no hidden "sister" sites it did however intricately chronicle Manson's transformation into the debauched, absinthe-infused Weimar era "Arch Dandy" artíste whom he evolved into on the album and during the Grotesk Burlesk.
Contained within are the various imageries and intricacies of the site between 2002 to 2004 which paralleled the time period to the creativity and artistic reckless abandon of 1930's Weimar Germany that Manson sought out to recapture with the album and era.
Sources & references of interest within The ART & THE GOLDEN AGE OF GROTESQUE section of The NACHTKABARETT:
- The Tragic Life Of Toulouse-Lautrec by Lawrence & Elizabeth Hanson (OUT OF PRINT)
- Degas/Lautrec : Painters Of Parisian Life by Keith Roberts (OUT OF PRINT)
- Toulouse-Lautrec by Richard Stone (OUT OF PRINT)
- Helnwein.com Gottfried Helnwein's Official site
- Otto Dix by Eva Karcher
- Otto Dix : Metropolis published by Fondation Maeght (OUT OF PRINT)
- "Degenerate Art" The Fate Of The Avant-Garde In Nazi Germany by Stephanie Barron, published by LACMA (OUT OF PRINT)
- Lustmord by Maria Tatar
- Voluptuous Panic : The Erotic World Of Weimar Berlin by Mel Gordon (OUT OF PRINT)
- Dada, Surrealim, And Their Heritage by William S. Rubin (OUT OF PRINT)
- Aubrey Beardsley : A Slave To Beauty by David Colvin
- The Early Work Of Aubrey Beardsley published by Dover
- The Hot Girls Of Weimar Berlin by Barbara Ulrich