the cult of beauty

So as you know we popped over to the V&A and one of the exhibitions was The Cult of Beauty. Now I’m pretty sure neither Boy or I expected that it would be as good as Yohji Yamamoto but we were captivated by the incredibly diverse collection. From paintings and etchings to costumes and metalwork, there was a lot to be inspired by.

So  if you don’t get the chance to go yourselves before it ends on the 17th July here’s a quick introduction to ‘The Cult’ and a few of my favourites from the exhibition.

The ideals behind the Aesthetic Movement was to create beauty in an era of industrialisation. (and I quote from Wikipedia) The artists and writers of Aesthetic style tended to profess that the Arts should provide refined sensuous pleasure, rather than convey moral or sentimental messages, they did not accept the utilitarian conception of art as something moral or useful. Instead, they believed that Art did not have any educational purpose; it need only be beautiful. The Aesthetes developed a cult of beauty, which they considered the basic factor of art. Life should copy Art, they asserted.

And they definitely did make some beautiful things. So a few of my favourites:

This picture, Veronica Veronese by Rossetti, mostly I just love the yellow canary in the birdcage at the top. This necklace is by Alexis Falize, a leading Paris jeweller who was known for working in the Japanese style.

This painting is but Whistler. I love the colours and the calmness of the image. Although apparently this slighly impressionist style had one critic accuse him of ‘flinging a pot of paint in the public’s face’ instead of producing”real” paintings (I wonder what they’d have thought of Rothko‘s work?!).

This intricate katagami stencil is cut from paper and was used by Arthur Silver for one of his designs for wallpaper. Poster illustration by Frederick Walker for the Woman in White.

And finally there is this book; The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, produced by Kelmscott Press and illustrated by William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones. I’m pretty much a lifelong fan of William Morris and this just cements the reasons why, each page is wonderfully patterned and illustrated.

Go and check them out yourself, seeing things in real life beats looking at them on screen any day!


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