From top left clockwise,Frederic Leighton, Pavonia, 1858; William De Morgan, Charger, c.1888; Edward Burne-Jones, Ladies and Animals Sideboard, 1860; George Watts, Choosing,
Desperate Romantics, BBC, 2010
and I love the titles:
Cool exhibit…the cult of beauty @ the V&A
A highlight of my recent trip to London was the exhibition about the London-based Aesthetic Movement of the nineteenth century at the V &A. The Aesthetic Movement centred around a group of bohemian artists who espoused the importance of beauty in everyday life, hating what they saw as the vulgarity of commercialism which was a result of the industrial revolution. They believed that art should exist to for no reason other than for beauty, expressed by the phrase ‘art for art’s sake’.
The artists, who included Frederic Leighton, Gabriel Dante Rosetti, John Millais, William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones and James McNeill Whistler. These artists fought against the harsh urban realities of the Industrial Revolution which they deemed lacking in cultural and aesthetic values. Rosetti formed the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood which venerated the simplicity and idealisation of Italian painting before Raphael, whose paintings were over -embellished.
Their style was not cohesive, however, and drew its inspiration from not only the Renaissance but also classical art and Japanese and chinese art. The peacock, daffodil and long flowing hair of the female subjects were widely used motifs in Aesthicism.
The movement also encompassed the decorative arts: ceramics, furniture, silver and textiles were also an important part of the movement. These products where sold in places such as Liberty’s of London. The interior of Liberty’s dates from this period.
The exhibition includes the most famous examples of art, architecture and decorative arts of this movement. The interiors of some of the most famous rooms have been recreated. In addition, the exhibition shows the importance of the relationships between the leading artists and designers of the period.
The BBC’s adaptation of the lives of these artists, Desperate Romantics, shows a dramatic (soap opera-ish) but relatively faithful version of their lives- definitely worth a view. As my friend Adam, with whom I viewed the exhibition, their lives were at least, if not more, as interesting as their art!
22 June 2011