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Künstliche Paradiese

Museum Folkwang

Fear of the end of the world, and an ensuing appetite for ideas and images of paradise, often grow strong as centuries near their close, but in the 19th century this phenomenon had an earlier precedent in the literary works of Charles Baudelaire. A reference to this theme and to the poet was explicit in an exhibition called “Künstliche Paradiese” (Artificial paradise), curated by Zdenek Felix. Its title comes from Baudelaire’s Les Paradis artificiels (1860), and Felix makes mention of the poet in his catalogue introduction. Baudelaire had attempted, in his work and through his use of drugs, to gain entry to a euphoric paradise of the mind, a paradise set apart from the everyday world. This turning away from the world presaged a radical skepticism toward the promises of the modern age.

Today, the promises of the early years of the 20th century are utterly without hope of fulfillment, and,

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