the NachtKabarett

Translations available in:
Bookmark and Share
'Les Fleurs Du Mal' or 'The Flowers of Evil' by Marilyn Manson

All Writing & Content © Nick Kushner Unless Noted Otherwise

'Les Fleurs Du Mal', Marilyn Manson's 2007 to 2008 worldwide art exhibition named for its titlepiece watercolour which was first revealed via in mid-2006. At the time the piece was first shown was at the period when Manson had been thoroughly immersed in the composition of his film project 'Phantasmagoria : The Visions of Lewis Carroll'. As such, many of the paintings released simultaneously bore similar themes and re-interpretations of the nightmare world of Carroll's 'Alice in Wonderland'. 'Les Fleurs' notably evokes the chapter 'The Garden of Live Flowers', as featured below via both the original book illustration as well as the Disney retelling of 'Wonderland' (for more on the passages see 'Against All Gods').

Original drawing by John Tenniel with Alice exploring 'The Garden of Live Flowers', in one of her travels throughout Wonderland. The same garden as seen in Disney's version of the tale.

The title of the painting however evokes the much deeper and intricate reference of Charles Baudelaire's 1857 incendiary poetic collection during the era of Romanticism, 'Les Fleurs Du Mal', or 'The Flowers of Evil'. Another now classic work of literature, ahead of its time and subsequently censored with several sections banned from initial publication, Baudelaire's 'Les Fleurs' was a highly controversial release in the Nineteenth Century which was deemed an "insult to public decency" by the French government for which its author would be fined and prosecuted for unleashing unto the world. A work so malevolent that its ban which was only lifted nearly 100 years later in 1949. Laden with suggestively occult, alchemical, vampiric and Satanic themes, 'Les Fleurs' was a salaciously decadent and vitriolic diatribe against morality, God and society (as well as a personal favourite of this author), holding sex and death as the most high and sublime reality, whilst flirting with wanton sexuality and the very taboo subject of lesbianism.

In the similar vein of the Marquis de Sade, Nietzsche and Freud, Baudelaire would be later regarded as an iconoclast and hero of the Surrealist movement for his philosophy which was regarded as the antithesis of morality and ideals in the time period which he lived.

'Les Fleurs Du Mal', or 'The Flowers of Evil', the highly controversial book of erotic and insidious poetry, several entries of which were
outright banned upon first publication in 1857. Right ; an unused title piece for 'Les Fleurs Du Mal' by Felix Bracquemond, 1857.
"Another book that I was really drawn to when I was making this record, was Flowers Of Evil by Baudelaire. I did this painting of two heart shaped flowers that were skulls that I called the flowers of evil."
'The Passion of the Anti-Christ Superstar', i-D Magazine, July 2007
Manson performing live on the Summer 2007 European leg of the 'Rape of the World Tour'. An animate version of his
'Les Fleurs Du Mal' can be seen writhing and swaying on the background projection during 'The Nobodies'.



Still frame from the 'Disposable Teens' video.

From kristt7 on 02/22/03:

I was so interested to know if you ever pleased reading Baudelaire and its "Fleur du Mal". I always thougt thet there was a conection between the Dissasosiative [sic] video and Baudelaire (when the girl pick up a flower from your head- Flower of Evil) !!!

Answered by MM on 02/22/03:

Yes, of course.

From 'The Oracle'. A Q&A forum on in early 2003

For the occult correspondences to the above imagery in 'Disposable Teens' as well as the 'Holy Wood' album artwork, see the "It Is Finished When Seven Are One" article in the Alchemy & Kabbalah section of The NACHTKABARETT. It is noteworthy to mention that long-stemmed roses were originally meant to replace arrows in Manson's identification to St. Sebastian, as can be read in the video's "treatment" sheet.



Manson's 'Les Fleurs Du Mal' Exhibition in Zürich, Switzerland 2007 to 2008. Photo of, by, and courtesy of Peter-R Koenig.

Among the international stops ranging from Miami, Brazil, Moscow and Cologne which Manson's 'Les Fleurs Du Mal' exhibition was held was at the legendary Cabaret Voltaire in Zürich, Switzerland ; the birthplace of the Dada art movement in 1916, which has been a continually cited inspiration of Manson's.

Above and below are press scans and images following Manson's exhibition at Cabaret Voltaire, by friend Peter-R Koenig who authors The OTO Phenomenon & The Laughing Gnostic : David Bowie and The Occult.

Click for full sized images of Manson's art exhibition debut at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zürich, Switzerland ; the birthplace of Dada.
~ Press & scans courtesy of Peter-R Koenig. ~



Still frame of the flash vignette which acts as the introduction to Manson's online gallery of his paintings on
Featured are his pair of 'evil flowers' as they writhe "and coil like cigarettes" in the name of Art.



Left to Right ; an apparently alternate variation of 'Les Fleurs du Mal' revealed in Manson's late 2007 exhibition in Russia, 'Grey Daisy', a
hermaphroditic Hitler amongst columbines entitled 'Die Deutsche Kampferin' (for more see "Degenerate" Art & Fascism) and 'Yellow Daisy'.
"Someone said, 'Why don't you ever paint something nice, like a flower?' So I painted one, but I ended up using only the dirty water from another painting. If I wasn't me, I would probably want this one."
Interview for, 2002 (about 'Grey Daisy')

Flowers and Floriography have additionally been a subtle but recurring inclusion throughout Manson's entire body of work. At times, Biblical in nature, odes to the era of Romanticism, lyrical metaphors or simply tongue-in-cheek, the following are several video, art and musical references to other "Flowers of Evil", so to speak.


Man That You Fear Long Hard Road Out Of Hell Coma White Tainted Love Putting Holes in Happiness
Click thumbnails above for flowery scenes of Manson's videos.


Pierre et Gilles, "Le Grand Amour": Manson as the officer, sans traditional German accouterments, skull and bones contrasting against the purity and innocence of the daisy border - a flower traditionally recognized as that of innocence and loyal love. Here Dita is depicted as a Victorian beauty, noted by her radiant alabaster skin, and floral clothing pattern. The roses on her shirt capture the Victorian fascination with floriography, and offer a subtle nod to the Pierre et Gilles piece, "La rose et le couteau". Overall, set in contrast to the grotesqueries suggested by Manson's skull and bones, this creates an opposition of formidable beauty. Also read : 'Against All Gods' for more on the Pierre & Gilles collaboration.



And Hell was so cold / All the vases are so broken / And the roses tear our hands all opened
Great Big White World
'Mechanical Animals'



They slit our throats / like we were flowers / And our milk has been / Devoured
The Speed of Pain
'Mechanical Animals'


Left; 'Beyond the Pale'. Manson with Lily Cole in a Summer 2005 issue of the magazine Fashion Rocks.
Right ; Manson performing in St. Petersburg, Russian on the 2005 Summer leg of the 'Against All Gods' tour.


And all your sad endings are planting in their gardens / And they're waiting to grow and to die like flowers do
Diamonds & Pollen
'Disposable Teens' single B-Side



Slit our wrists and send us to heaven / The first flower after the flood
Valentine's Day
Holy Wood (In The Shadow of the Valley of Death)
The lush floral accompaniment, of thousands of red roses,to Manson and Dita's December 2005 wedding.
I keep watering a dead flower
Keep watering a dead flower
Keep watering the dead flower
Keep watering a dead flower
Keep watering a dead flower
Keep watering a dead flower
Keep watering a dead flower
Everything I make is a piece of plant
In some day it could have been a flower
And the things that are flowers are dead
I keep watering a dead flower
Keep watering a dead flower
There’s not enough of me to make a bouquet
There’s not enough of me to make a bouquet
Stop watering a dead flower
Stop watering the dead flower
Stop watering a dead flower
Marilyn Manson in Doppelherz, 2003


Another seemingly new piece revealed at the Zürich exhibition of 'Les Fleurs du Mal' is another portrait of Elizabeth Short, better known as 'The Black Dahlia'. This piece, entitled 'Wax Dahlia' is apparently ascribed as being a work of Manson's from 2002 and painted in oil and wax on canvas, as a departure of his usual watercolor medium.
( Link credits 1 and 2 )

Interesting, and apropos, to note in this context however is that a dahlia is actually a type of flower native to South America. Short, by all accounts, was nicknamed 'The Black Dahlia' as a play on words for her dark style of dress and hair along with a pun on the 1946 film 'The Blue Dahlia'. As a tangential relation to the subject at hand, Baudelaire's 'Fleurs du Mal' itself contains many such compositions bordering toward necrophilia with his penchant for corpses, particularly those of beautiful and supple young women.

For more on Manson's evocations, and paintings, of Elizabeth Short, see Elizabeth Short as Snow White ; Marilyn Manson and the Black Dahlia on The NACHTKABARETT.


All my lilies' mouth are open / Like they're begging for dope And hoping / Their bitter petal chant : "We can kick, you won't be back"
'The Golden Age of Grotesque'
Photos from a 2007 promotional shot by Perou that shows a romantic Manson holding a bouquet with knives in guise of roses, materializing the surreal invention distillated within Manson's lyrics. Left; notice the field of black poppies, a whole other kind of evil flowers, being where opium originates from.
Watch out your face / my sperm is cold as ice / Bouquet of knives, killer
You And Me And The Devil Makes 3
'Eat Me, Drink Me'
Left; hand-painted Dean ML Electric Guitar, decorated by Manson for "Six-String Masterpieces - The Dimebag Darrell Abbott Art Tribute", an auction sales to support music education program Little Kids Rock. Right; "art or cruelty? Simply a flower", posted in Manson's Myspace albums on October 11th, 2009.
You're a flower that's withering, I can't feel your thorns in my hand / This is no embrace / your buried deep
'The High End of Low'
Left; The day I wrote "Devour", a picture which surfaced on Manson's Myspace on December 20, 2009 (read more on the inception of Devour and The High End Of Low). Right; "You're a flower that's withering..." Manson frenetically shaking a fragile pink rose from the tips of his fingers while performing 'Devour' at the last venue of The High End Of Low tour in Paris on December 21st, 2009, before offering it to Evan Rachel Wood on the side of the stage.