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The Sistine Chapel 500 year’s anniversary and the Raphael Cartoons in London.

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The Sistine Chapel 500 year’s anniversary and the Raphael Cartoons in London.

Gregory Hilde Brand, 1st November 2012

Raphael Cartoons are on show at the V&A Museum in London

Sistine Chapel, The creation of Adam, particular, Michelangelo Buonarroti, courtesy Wikipedia

Wandering around Italy in these days, you can be overwhelmed by the news about the celebration for the 500 years of the inauguration of the Sistine Chapel ceiling by Michelangelo.The very famous ceiling frescos, in fact, were unveiled the 31st October 1512. These images are in between the most famous in the world. Everyone has seen, at least once in his life, the image of the two fingers getting closer, a particular taken from “The creation of Adam”.

Italy is inundated with news of the Sistine Chapel celebration, also a way to enhance the low appreciation the Vatican faces in these days.

However, it is undoubtable the Sistine Chapel is a marvellous patrimony of the world, one of the primary functions of which is as a venue for the election of each successive pope in the Conclave of the College of Cardinals.

The 31st October 2012, Pope Benedict XVI presided at the celebration of Vespers in the Sistine Chapel, to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the inauguration of the ceiling painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512.

Pope Julius II, who entrusted the decoration of the vault (1,100 square metres) to the sculptor of the Pieta, celebrated the completion of the work with the solemn rite of Vespers on All Saints’ Day, 31st October 1512.

The story of the Sistine Chapel starts in the XV Century. The return of the pontiffs in Rome, after the period in Avignon (France), marked a reconstruction time for the capital city of the Christianity, ruined and devastated by the civil wars.

Pope Sixtus VI worked on renovating Rome and culminated in the restoration of the Palatine Chapel of the Apostolic Palaces – aka the Vatican Palaces, residence of the Pope in Rome- that took its name of Sistine Chapel (Latin: Sacellum Sixtinum) from the pope’s name.

The architectonic project of the chapel was made by Baccio Pontelli. It has been built under the supervision of Giovannino de’ Dolci, between the 1477 and 1481, and consecrated in 1483.

The Sistine Chapel is a rectangular brick building, exteriorly unadorned. The internal measurements are 40.9 metres (134 ft) long by 13.4 metres (44 ft) wide—the dimensions of the Temple of Solomon, as given in the Old Testament. The vaulted ceiling rises to 20.7 metres (68 ft).

The interior presents a screen, or transenna, in marble by Mino da Fiesole, Andrea Bregno, and Giovanni Dalmata, who also provided the

Michelangelo Buonaroti, The last judgement, complete view, Vatican Gallery, Sistine Chapel, courtesy Wikipedia

cantoria, or projecting choir gallery.

The internal walls are divided into three main tiers. The lower is decorated with frescoed wall hangings in silver and gold. The central tier of the walls has two cycles of paintings, which complement each other.

The decoration was started by Perugino, and Piermatteo D’Amelia decorated the ceiling. In the meantime Lorenzo de’ Medici, ruler of Florence, as a part of the reconciliation project between him and his enemies of the Pazzi Conspiracy (1478), offered his help for the decoration of the chapel, including sending to Rome artists who left Florence on 27th October 1480.

The group of Florentine was composed by Sandro Botticelli, Cosimo Rosselli, Domenico Ghirlandaio and their assistants Pinturicchio, Piero di Cosimo e Bartolomeo della Gatta. They joined Perugino, who was perhaps the superintendent of the whole decoration. They started to work in the Sistine Chapel in the spring of 1481. Later on, Luca Signorelli replaced Perugino.

In 1504, for soil problems the Sistine Chapel was damaged, and once restored the ceiling needed to be redecorated. Pope Julius II wanted to commission Michelangelo Buonarroti, who signed the contract in 1508.

The decoration was terminated the 31st October 2012. Michelangelo was helped by Bramante for the scaffolding. The frescoes were subject to fungus attack but an assistant of Michelangelo, Jacopo l’Indaco, created a special mix that remained in the Italian builder’s tradition.

Furthermore, Pope Clement VII commissioned to Michelangelo the decoration of the wall above the altar with The Last Judgement, 1537–1541. There was a strong dispute between Michelangelo and Cardinal Carafa, who accused the artist of immorality and obscenity because he painted naked people.

Therefore, after Michelangelo’s death Daniele da Volterra was hired to cover the genitals in Last Judgment with vestments and loincloths. This earned him the nickname “Il Braghettone” (“the breeches maker”). In 1994 restoration, they have been partially removed but only on 38 minor figures and causing many protests.

And here is the connection with the UK – and this website. In 1515, Raphael was commissioned by Pope Leo X to design a series of ten tapestries to hang around the lower tier of the walls. The full-size preparatory cartoons for seven of the ten tapestries, known as the Raphael Cartoons, are on show at the V&A Museum in London. The fate of the other three cartoons is unknown.

Due to their large size, Raphael tapestries were woven in four years in the shop of Pieter van Aelst (Brussels). Their first delivery was in 1517, and seven were displayed in the Chapel for Christmas in 1519. Raphael’s tapestries were looted during the Sack of Rome in 1527 and were either burnt for their precious metal content or were scattered around Europe. In the late 20th century, a set was reassembled and displayed again in the Sistine Chapel in 1983, and used during occasional important ceremonies.

The seven Raphael Cartoons were bought from a Genoese collection in 1623 by Sir Francis Drake on behalf Charles I of England. He only paid £300 for them, probably they were considered as working designs rather than works of art. Charles I, in fact, made further tapestries from them at Mortlake but he was well aware of their artistic significance. They had been cut into long vertical strips a yard wide, as was required for use on low-warp tapestry looms, and were only permanently rejoined in the 1690s at Hampton Court. In Charles’ time they were stored in wooden boxes in the Banqueting House, Whitehall. They were one of the few items in the Royal Collection withheld from sale by Oliver Cromwell after Charles’ execution.

William III commissioned Sir Christopher Wren and William Talman to design the “Cartoon Gallery” at Hampton Court Palace in 1699, especially to contain them. In 1763, when George III moved them to the newly bought Buckingham House (now Buckingham Palace) there were protests in Parliament by John Wilkes and others, as they would no longer be accessible to the public (Hampton Court had long been open to visitors). In 1804 they were returned to Hampton Court, and in 1865 Queen Victoria decided that the cartoons should be exhibited on loan at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England, where they are still to be seen in a specially designed gallery.

The celebration of 500 years of Sistine Chapel marks that a piece of history is available to people, as every year 6 million of tourists visits the place.

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Written by davidfranchi

November 1, 2012 at 10:15 pm

Posted in Italian language articles

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"Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 – 1990" at The V&A Museum

Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 – 1990

“in-depth survey examining the movement”

David Franchi – 26th September 2011

Is Postmodernism finished? The V&A Museum exhibition “Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 – 1990” shed lights on some aspects of one of the most controversial cultural experience, at the V&A Museum, London, ongoing until 15th January 2012.

The V&AMuseum exhibition is particular and for those born in the 1960s will bring back melancholic youth memories. Postmodernism, in fact, began as a fairly elitist movement, that later influenced many cultural fields, including religion, literary criticism, sociology, linguistics, architecture, history, anthropology, visual arts, and music. “Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 – 1990” brings together over 250 objects across all genres of art and design, revisiting a time when style was not just a ‘look’ but became an attitude.

Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 – 1990” is the first in-depth survey of art, design and architecture examining the movement. It shows how postmodernism evolved from a provocative architectural movement in the early 1970s and rapidly went on to influence all areas of popular culture. In the 1970s it had its birth, while during the 1980s became a mass phenomenon mainly through fashion and music. Therefore the V&A Museum exhibition will be much appreciated by those aged in their forties. Or maybe not, as it states that we – including who writes- got old enough to be exhibited in a museum. Flattering, but a bit depressing at the same time, isn’t it?

However, defining Postmodernism is quite hard. It is a movement in contemporary culture characterised by the problem of objective truth and global narrative or meta-narrative. It is the art and design movement that follows Modernism but at the same time both of them went on in parallel for a while. Postmodernism believes that apparent realities are only social constructs, as they are subject to change inherent to time and place. It underlines the role of language, power relations, and motivations. Postmodernism challenges the severe categorising such as male versus female, straight versus gay, and white versus black.

Homage to Levi Strauss dress, Autumn Winter collection 1983-4, Cinzia Ruggeri © V&A Museum

For postmodernists style was everything whilst modernists considered style to be a simple incident to their ideas. “Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 – 1990” explores the radical ideas that challenged the orthodoxies of Modernism; overthrowing purity and simplicity in favour of exuberant colours, bold patterns, artificial looking surfaces, historical quotation, parody and wit, and above all, a newfound freedom in design.

Key Postmodernism aspects are identified in the three large chronological sections of “Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 – 1990”. The first gallery focuses on architecture considered the cradle discipline for postmodernism. The mixing of different cultural references created a new critical language, addressed to challenge the insufficiencies of Modernism together with the late capitalism. Architects, such as Aldo Rossi, Hans Hollein, Charles Moore and James Stirling, found a new way of combining elements of the past with the ones of the present. Charles Jencks was one of the founders and proclaimed its death. Designers, including Ron Arad, Vivienne Westwood and Rei Kawakubo, assembled cultural fragments applying the technique of ‘bricolage’ across many different disciplines. Italy was a key centre for critical practices where designers like Ettore Sottsass and Alessandro Mendini began to seek alternatives by challenging social norms, market imperatives and assumptions of taste. Italian critic Bruno Zevi indicated popular Las Vegas style as a new referent for Postmodernism and architect Robert Venturi, with his partner Denise Scott Brown, embraced this point of view. The 1980 Venice Architecture Biennale – titled ‘Strada Novissima’ – was a landmark of new ideas but it was much criticised by philosopher Jurgen Habermas.

The second part of the V&A Museum exhibition is focused on the proliferation of postmodernism through design, art,music, fashion, performance, and club culture during the 1980s. In this section of the exhibition seems to be in a mid-‘80s club. It is, in fact, focused on the club culture of the 1980s that came after the discos on the 1970s. This section displays audio-visual installations and objects including fashion photography by Guy Bourdin and Helmut Newton, stage collections worn by Annie Lennox and Devo, turntables used by hip-hop pioneer Grandmaster Flash, and dance costumes related to the choreography of Karole Armitage, Kazuo Ohno, and Michael Clark. Performers such as Grace Jones, Leigh Bowery and Klaus Nomi played with genre and gender, creating hybrid, subversive stage personas. There is a niche dedicated to “Blade Runner” considered a cult movie for Postmodernism. Like the music, objects and architecture of the time, these celebrities were themselves constructed from ‘samples’. The first design group to embrace postmodernism was Studio Alchymia (1978) in Milan. While in 1981 the launch of the group Memphis in Milan again, under the leader Ettore Sottsass, was recognised as a disturbance in the designer world but immediately hailed as introducing a new international style. The artist and singer Laurie Anderson created her Postmodernism style inNew York.

The final section examines the exaggerated possessions culture of the 1980s when money became to be worshipped by artists, designers and

Super Lamp, Martine Bedin © V&A Museum

authors. From Andy Warhol’s 1981 ‘Dollar Sign’ paintings, to Karl Lagerfeld’s designs for Chanel, consumerism and excess were trademarks of the postmodern almost imposed to the persons and the needs were artificially created to expand expenditures, so that capitalistic economy could run faster and generate huge profits for the big fat cat companies. Postmodernism criticised this situation, according to the well-known “Protect me from what I want”, by Jenny Holzer (1985), printed on one partition wall of this section. Brands were also keen to employ leading designers to apply postmodern style to their products; one example on display is a Mickey Mouse tea set designed by Michael Graves for Disney. As the novelist Martin Amis put it in 1984, “money doesn’t mind if we say it’s evil, it goes from strength to strength.”

By the late 1980s, many had started to declare the death of Postmodernism. However, it is not sure if it is dead as nothing seems to come after it. The exhibition ends encouraging visitors to consider the relevance of the postmodern moment. The last work on display is “Bizarre love triangle”, a video by New Order, an English band famous for their delightful Postmodernism style, recently back on scenes.

“Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 – 1990” is convincing although there still much more to say about this movement. For example, investigating about the very popular dimension of the movement: who reminds Klaus Nomi though he has been one of the beginners? But ask about the more popular icons Duran Duran, Prince or even Human League.

Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 – 1990” is curated by Glenn Adamson and Jane Pavitt. Sponsors are the Friends of the V&A and Barclays Wealth.

At the Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, South Kensington, London, SW7 2RL

Showing from 24th September 2011 until 15th January 2012

Written by davidfranchi

January 8, 2012 at 12:17 am

Postmodernism exhibition at the V&A Museum

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Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 – 1990

David Franchi – 26th September 2011

Is Postmodernism finished? The V&A Museum exhibition “Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 – 1990” shed lights on some aspects of one of the most controversial cultural experience, at the V&A Museum, London, ongoing until 15th January 2012.

The V&AMuseum exhibition is particular and for those born in the 1960s will bring back melancholic youth memories. Postmodernism, in fact, began as a fairly elitist movement, that later influenced many cultural fields, including religion, literary criticism, sociology, linguistics, architecture, history, anthropology, visual arts, and music. “Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 – 1990” brings together over 250 objects across all genres of art and design, revisiting a time when style was not just a ‘look’ but became an attitude.

Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 – 1990” is the first in-depth survey of art, design and architecture examining the movement. It shows how postmodernism evolved from a provocative architectural movement in the early 1970s and rapidly went on to influence all areas of popular culture. In the 1970s it had its birth, while during the 1980s became a mass phenomenon mainly through fashion and music. Therefore the V&A Museum exhibition will be much appreciated by those aged in their forties. Or maybe not, as it states that we – including who writes- got old enough to be exhibited in a museum. Flattering, but a bit depressing at the same time, isn’t it?

However, defining Postmodernism is quite hard. It is a movement in contemporary culture characterised by the problem of objective truth and global narrative or meta-narrative. It is the art and design movement that follows Modernism but at the same time both of them went on in parallel for a while. Postmodernism believes that apparent realities are only social constructs, as they are subject to change inherent to time and place. It underlines the role of language, power relations, and motivations. Postmodernism challenges the severe categorising such as male versus female, straight versus gay, and white versus black.

For postmodernists style was everything whilst modernists considered style to be a simple incident to their ideas. “Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 – 1990” explores the radical ideas that challenged the orthodoxies of Modernism; overthrowing purity and simplicity in favour of exuberant colours, bold patterns, artificial looking surfaces, historical quotation, parody and wit, and above all, a newfound freedom in design.

Key Postmodernism aspects are identified in the three large chronological sections of “Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 – 1990”. The first gallery focuses on architecture considered the cradle discipline for postmodernism. The mixing of different cultural references created a new critical language, addressed to challenge the insufficiencies of Modernism together with the late capitalism. Architects, such as Aldo Rossi, Hans Hollein, Charles Moore and James Stirling, found a new way of combining elements of the past with the ones of the present. Charles Jencks was one of the founders and proclaimed its death. Designers, including Ron Arad, Vivienne Westwood and Rei Kawakubo, assembled cultural fragments applying the technique of ‘bricolage’ across many different disciplines. Italy was a key centre for critical practices where designers like Ettore Sottsass and Alessandro Mendini began to seek alternatives by challenging social norms, market imperatives and assumptions of taste. Italian critic Bruno Zevi indicated popular Las Vegas style as a new referent for Postmodernism and architect Robert Venturi, with his partner Denise Scott Brown, embraced this point of view. The 1980 Venice Architecture Biennale – titled ‘Strada Novissima’ – was a landmark of new ideas but it was much criticised by philosopher Jurgen Habermas.

The second part of the V&A Museum exhibition is focused on the proliferation of postmodernism through design, art,music, fashion, performance, and club culture during the 1980s. In this section of the exhibition seems to be in a mid-‘80s club. It is, in fact, focused on the club culture of the 1980s that came after the discos on the 1970s. This section displays audio-visual installations and objects including fashion photography by Guy Bourdin and Helmut Newton, stage collections worn by Annie Lennox and Devo, turntables used by hip-hop pioneer Grandmaster Flash, and dance costumes related to the choreography of Karole Armitage, Kazuo Ohno, and Michael Clark. Performers such as Grace Jones, Leigh Bowery and Klaus Nomi played with genre and gender, creating hybrid, subversive stage personas. There is a niche dedicated to “Blade Runner” considered a cult movie for Postmodernism. Like the music, objects and architecture of the time, these celebrities were themselves constructed from ‘samples’. The first design group to embrace postmodernism was Studio Alchymia (1978) in Milan. While in 1981 the launch of the group Memphis in Milan again, under the leader Ettore Sottsass, was recognised as a disturbance in the designer world but immediately hailed as introducing a new international style. The artist and singer Laurie Anderson created her Postmodernism style inNew York.

The final section examines the exaggerated possessions culture of the 1980s when money became to be worshipped by artists, designers and authors. From Andy Warhol’s 1981 ‘Dollar Sign’ paintings, to Karl Lagerfeld’s designs for Chanel, consumerism and excess were trademarks of the postmodern almost imposed to the persons and the needs were artificially created to expand expenditures, so that capitalistic economy could run faster and generate huge profits for the big fat cat companies. Postmodernism criticised this situation, according to the well-known “Protect me from what I want”, by Jenny Holzer (1985), printed on one partition wall of this section. Brands were also keen to employ leading designers to apply postmodern style to their products; one example on display is a Mickey Mouse tea set designed by Michael Graves for Disney. As the novelist Martin Amis put it in 1984, “money doesn’t mind if we say it’s evil, it goes from strength to strength.”

By the late 1980s, many had started to declare the death of Postmodernism. However, it is not sure if it is dead as nothing seems to come after it. The exhibition ends encouraging visitors to consider the relevance of the postmodern moment. The last work on display is “Bizarre love triangle”, a video by New Order, an English band famous for their delightful Postmodernism style, recently back on scenes.

“Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 – 1990” is convincing although there still much more to say about this movement. For example, investigating about the very popular dimension of the movement: who reminds Klaus Nomi though he has been one of the beginners? But ask about the more popular icons Duran Duran, Prince or even Human League.

“Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 – 1990” is curated by Glenn Adamson and Jane Pavitt. Sponsors are the Friends of the V&A and Barclays Wealth.

Written by davidfranchi

September 28, 2011 at 10:29 pm

A new wave of South African Photography at the V&A Museum

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A new wave of South African Photography at the Victoria and Albert Museum

Monday, 25th April 2011 – David Franchi

 
The exhibition “Figures & Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography”, at the V&A Museum, London, until 17th July 2011, is focused on the social aspects of the post- apartheid country.

The V&A has the oldest museum photography collection in the world and holds the UK’s national collection of photography. This is, in fact, the first UK exhibition of contemporary South African photography. It features over 150 works from seventeen photographers, taken during the last ten years by some of the most celebrated photographers in the world, together with others less famous, living and working in South Africa today.

All the photographers are focusing on the subject ‘what does it mean to be human at this time in South Africa. In the post-apartheid country, in fact, an interesting and refined photographic culture of photography has emerged. When the severe South African regime ended, the whole nation needed to reshape many of its beliefs. Photography was used to depict people for science purposes when it arrived in South Africa in 1840. After the white government established photography became the medium to portray the unkind life of the people. However, this group of photographers is looking for new ways of thinking the post-apartheid South Africa.

Co-curator Martin Barnes said: “This exhibition shows the range and variety of politically-engaged fine art photography arising from a captivating period in South Africa’s history. These photographers are at the forefront of photography emerging anywhere in the world today and it’s a wonderful opportunity to gather them together for this first major exhibition showcase of the contemporary South African scene.”

South Africa had a long time regime of separation of the races with people categorised in into ‘black’, ‘white’ and ‘coloured’ that lasted nearly 50 years and collapsed in 1994. As a consequence of this fall, all aspects of life including sex, ethnicity, race, gender, religion, occupation and class have seen new laws regulations. Now there are middle-class black families who are able to settle down, buying properties and work in dignity, when white people are turning poor reversing the situation.

This exhibition gives a good picture of this condition. Photographers are doing a social reportage about South Africa that is leading a real revolution about all aspects of human life. Each photographer is represented by one or more series that imaginatively question the conventions of portraiture, ethnographic studies or documentary photography.

Works on display portrays people within their individual, family and community lives, practicing religious customs, observing social rituals, wearing street fashion or existing on the fringes of society. The artist array is quite comprehensive, but other important South African photographers could be included as partially has done in the catalogue. However, the exhibition is very interesting and it shed light on an emerging art wave and a transformed country focused on the future.

The photographers in the exhibition range from celebrities David Goldblatt and Santu Mofokeng to mid-career star Pieter Hugo, Zwelethu Mthethwa and Guy Tillim. There is a new generation, fresh to the international stage, including Zanele Muholi, Hasan and Husain Essop and Jodi Bieber. Also present are other interesting artists like, Kudzanai Chiurai, Terry Kurgan, Sabelo Mlangeni, Jo Ractliffe, Berni Searle, Mikhael Subotzky, Nontsikelelo ‘Lolo’ Veleko, Roelof Petrus Van Wyk and Graeme Williams.

The exhibition co-curators are Professor Tamar Garb from University College London and Martin Barnes, Senior Curator of Photographs at the V&A. Sponsored by Standard Bank the V&A exhibition is not a come along in itself. Until the 31st July 2011 the V&A Photography Gallery will display ‘Lifetimes: Under Apartheid’ by David Goldblatt. Besides, there is a selection of short films featuring interviews with the artists available to view on the V&A Channel. Moreover, there are panel discussions with artists, museum night views, talks, late opening, courses and workshops.

Written by davidfranchi

April 25, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Art exhibition: The Cult of Beauty – Victoria & Albert Museum London

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The exhibition on the art of the Aestheticism in London.

Saturday, 9th April 2011 – David Franchi

12._The_Cult_of_Beauty_2011_-_Copia“The Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement 1860-1900” is a marvellous exhibition with many visitors, at the V&A Museum, London, ongoing until the next 17th July.

The V&A exhibition is the most wide-ranging ever organised on the Aesthetic Movement in Britain. Amazingly nothing was made before, being the Aesthetic Movement a real British epitome, incarnating the quintessence of the country. It traces the Aestheticism development from the romantic bohemianism of a small avant-garde circle in the 1860s to a cultural phenomenon, finishing with the final Decadent phase at the end of the 19th century.

The Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement 1860-1900” assembles over 250 objects and for the first time many of the greatest masterpieces in painting together with sculpture, design, furniture and architecture as well as fashion and literature.

The exhibition is organised in a chronological order crossing over the decades from 1860-1900. It is structured in five galleries, opening with the room “Introduction”, which explains the general frame of the British culture in the middle years of the 19th century. The Aestheticism, in fact, was born in the late 19th century in the UK as a reaction to the art and ideas of the Victorian establishment. It was part of the anti-19th century reaction. It had post-Romantic origins, and as such anticipates modernism.

Usually, Aestheticism is associated to the French Symbolism and Decadence, or the Italian Decadentismo, for it represents the same tendencies and may be considered the British version of the same style.

Additionally, the philosophy of Aestheticism formed as a cultural answer to the one of Positivism, another movement born at the beginning of the 19th century determined on science only. The new style mitigated the weight of the rationality and science, emphasising aesthetic values more than socio-political themes. Aestheticism was focused on life experiences; so much as that a certain moment a number of pundits claimed that science was inferior to intuition. Art was considered especially prestigious, but the movement was believed slightly elitist.

5._Alma_Tadema_Chair_-_Copia The second exhibition gallery, “The search for a New Beauty 1860s”, deals with the early ideas of the movement. Between all the styles of the mid- 19th -century, the unambiguous artistic ideal that emerged was the ‘cult of beauty’. Aestheticism brought together the Pre-Raphaelite bohemians like Rossetti, nonconformist figures such as Whistler and the neo –classical painters like Leighton and G. F. Watts. The guru of the style was Oscar Wilde.

An alternative kind of beauty was also created where temper, colour and harmony were more important than the subject. The style spread into all areas of life and many leading producers of furniture, ceramics, metalwork, wallpaper and textiles commissioned prominent designers including Walter Crane and Christopher Dresser. The style was characterised by a widespread use of motifs such as the lily, the sunflower and the peacock feather, drawing on sources as diverse as Ancient Greek art and modern day Japan.

The third gallery, “Art for Art’s Sake 1860s-80s”, deals with the adulthood of the movement. The slogan ‘Art for Art’s Sake’, coming from the French ‘L’art pour l’art’, is still famous today. Aestheticism created an unprecedented public fascination in the lives of artists. The V&A exhibition explores the stunning selection of artists in the group such as William Morris, James McNeill Whistler, Frederic Leighton, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones and Oscar Wilde.

However, for Aestheticism the pleasure of beautiful items and art were above any other thing. Therefore, it was the first artistic movement to inspire a whole lifestyle. Besides, it affected many kind of themes including design, literature, fine art, the decorative arts, and interior design.

Sir Mark Jones, Director of the V&A, said: “Art as important for its own sake, beauty to be valued for itself alone – the ideas proposed by the Aesthetic Movement are current again today. This exhibition, drawn from a wide range of public and private collections, is the richest and most complete picture of this extraordinary movement yet.”

2._Leighton_Sluggard_-_CopiaIn the fourth gallery, “Beautiful people & Aesthetic houses 1870s- 90s”, the focus is on interior design, architecture and clothes. The immense success of the Grosvenor Gallery, opened in 1877 by Sir Coutts Lindsay to show the work of his Aesthetic friends, revealed the movement was fashionable and much requested both by the elite and the common people. As well as commissioning Aesthetic paintings and portraits, its followers approached in the same way the adornment of their homes and even the design of their clothes.

The last room, “Late- flowering beauty, 1880s-90s”, focus on the last period of the movement. Many artists were still active in those years, even if it was thought the opposite. Satire and parody were made about Aestheticism and Britain was caught by the style.

The Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement 1860-1900” has been organised in collaboration with the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. After London, it will travel to the Musée D’Orsay in Paris in September 2011 before travelling to the Young Museum (part of the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco), opening in February 2012.

The exhibition has been sponsored by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, with further support from Liberty. Curators, Stephen Calloway, lead curator for the V&A and Dr. Lynn Federle Orr, lead curator for the Fine arts Museum of San Francisco.

 This exhibition has a real British taste. It is unmissable and it couldn’t be different because Aestheticism involved the whole society and its culture and art.

Published for: www.italoeuropeo.com

Direct link: http://www.italoeuropeo.com/entertaiment/arts/the-exhibition-on-the-art-of-the-aestheticism-in-london./

Written by davidfranchi

April 9, 2011 at 8:22 pm

Yamamoto, three events in London for one Japanese fashion designer.

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Saturday, 26th March 2011 – David Franchi

Yohji_Yamamoto_Exhibition_3_c_VA__-_CopiaThe exhibition “Yohji Yamamoto”, focused on the famous Japanese fashion designer, opens in a dreadful moment for Japan devastated by an inconceivable series of dreadful events. We all wish the best to Japanese people who in this painful time maintain a dignity to be revered.

The V&A Museum organised “Yohji Yamamoto”, until the 10 July 2011. It runs in parallel with two other events “Yohji making waves – The Wapping project” (12 March – 10 July 2011), and “The Wapping project Bankside, Yohji’s women” (12 March – 14 May 2011) both in Wapping, London. These three events together celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the first European show of a major fashion designer and converge on the key question: is this fashion or art?

“The Wapping project Bankside, Yohji’s women” displays the pictures of seven international photographers: Nick Knight, Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin, Peter Lindbergh, Craig McDean, Sarah Moon, Paolo Roversi, and Max Vudukul. They moved their first steps in the stimulating burst of creativity provoked by Yamamoto’s arrival in Europe at the beginning of the 1980s.

“Yohji making waves – The Wapping project” has one only major piece installed the renowned gigantic white silk wedding dress with bamboo crinoline from Autumn/Winter Collection 1998. The item is placed in the vast Boiler House of the Wapping Hydraulic Power Station.

The main exhibition, “Yohji Yamamoto”, is at the V&A Museum. It’s a solo installation-based retrospective, displaying over eighty outfits. It consists in one large room and several installations in others museum galleries. The main space presents over sixty mannequins dressed with pieces of clothing from Yamamoto’s womenswear and, for the first time on display, items from his menswear collections. On a side wall stands a mixed-media timeline presenting excerpts from Yamamoto fashion shows, films and performances, graphic material and select photographs.

Yohji_YamamotoBesides, Yamamoto’s visionary design is exhibited on mannequins placed amongst the galleries of the V&A: the entrance is paying, so people who decide not to buy the ticket can still interact with his works. Positioned in hidden corners of the Museum, chosen by Yamamoto himself, the silhouettes create a direct dialogue with the surrounding environments in which they are. However, this is a piece of hunt and probably not really clear. If someone wants to follow a Yamamoto itinerary at the V&A will have to literally chase these mannequins through the British Galleries Landing, in the Norfolk House Music Room and looking out onto the John Madejski Garden from an alcove in the Hintze Sculpture Galleries. Other pieces are in the Paintings Gallery, amongst the museum’s Ceramics collections and within the Tapestry Gallery.

The garments are on unprotected mannequins, so visitors are free to walk through, or around, them, having almost a physical contact. Fabrics are essential for Yamamoto, they are a brand of his work. Supporting local craftspeople in Kyoto area, his textiles are created to specification often employing traditional Japanese dyeing and embroidery techniques such as Shibori and Yu-zen. The selection of items on show gives visitors the opportunity to see Yamamoto’s application of traditional Japanese techniques.

Yohji Yamamoto was born in Tokyo in 1943. His father was killed in the Second World War. He graduated in Law from Keio University in 1966. He then started to work with his mother dress-making business. His further studies in fashion design at Bunka Fashion College led to a degree in 1969. In 1972 he set up his own company, but in 2009 it was filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo, being into debts of more than 65 million of US dollars. However, another Japanese company, Integral Corp, is restructuring Yamamoto’s company.

From the start of his career Yamamoto was recognised for challenging the fashion conventions and, through this, subverting the traditional ideas about sex gender. In his early time, he was struggling to reproduce the magazine fashion style. Moreover, he was working and living in the prostitute area of Kabukicho, Shinjuku. Therefore, since childhood he was strongly resolute to avoid the icon of the sweet- doll- woman desired by prostitute clients. He believes perfection is ugly because is a sort of forced order of things. Therefore, his work has strong asymmetric proportions and cuts emphasised by mostly using the black, white and grey colours.

This counters the common beliefs of the glittering glamour. In his first show in Paris in 1981, together with Rei Kawakubo at that time his partner, the catwalk was plenty of models with sulky expressions, white painted faces, cropped hair and flat shoes. The music was an electronic heavy heartbeat. Black was the main colour at that time very unpopular. The establishment did not appreciate, press defined it “Hiroshima chic” and in Japan women dressed in this style were called ‘the crows’. However, Yamamoto and Kawakubo have rewritten notions of beauty in fashion, and the humorous androgyny of their work creates new modalities of gender identity, becoming a status symbol for young urban creative generations.

Yamamoto has also become familiar to consumers through his partnerships with other brands, including Adidas (Y-3), Hermès, Mikimoto and Mandarina Duck. He also realised significant collaborations with different kind of artists such as musicians Elton John and Placebo, filmmakers Takeshi Kitano and Wim Wenders, theatre personalities Pina Bausch and Heiner Müller, art director Marc Ascoli and M/M.

With respect to the catalogues and iconic images they produced for Yohji Yamamoto in the late 1980s, Peter Saville art directs the V&A exhibition identity, publicity and catalogue working with Nick Knight to create imagery and YES Studio on graphic design.

The exhibition is designed by Masao Nihei, Yamamoto’s long-time collaborator scenographer and lighting designer, it is curated by Ligaya Salazar, the V&A’s Contemporary Curator and it is supported by Canon UK Ltd.

This exhibition should be an artistic and delightful alternative to the weekend shopping for Londoners.

Published for: www.italoeuropeo.co.uk

Direct Link: http://www.italoeuropeo.com/entertaiment/life-and-style/yamamoto,-three-events-in-london-for-one-japanese-fashion-designer./

Written by davidfranchi

March 28, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Diaghilev and Ballet Russes – V&A Museum London

Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes on show at the V&A Museum.

Sunday, 3rd October 2010 – David Franchi

“Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballet Russes 1909-1929” is an impressive exhibition that reveals the importance of Diaghilev as impresario and artistic director of his “total theatre” an amazing combination of dance, music and art. It is an exhibition with more than 300 objects and popular material showed in a chronological order.

At the V&A Museum there is a vast collection of Ballet Russes and Diaghilev. Ballet Russes collaborated with famous choreographer, artists and designers. New music scores were commissioned for nearly half of the Ballets Russes: music was crucial, so it was put around the visitors at the show. The exhibition begins with Diaghilev’s life in St. Petersburg, proceeds to a deconstruction of the ballet through inspiration, choreography, music and creation of the sets, next is the difficult moment during the War and a final gallery about the 1920s a period when he had achieved great status.

This superb exhibition gives to anyone the chance to deepen the knowledge about Sergei Pavlovich “Serge” Dyagilev and the Ballet Russes in an intense manner with more than 300 objects and popular material that gives a global glimpse.

Designs and colours used in Ballet Russes created a new aesthetic in the twentieth century. The exhibition is a chronologically ordered digression on the Ballet Russes, from the origins to Diaghilev’s death in 1929 in Venice, where he’s still nearby buried. Ballet was a declined art across Europe and America at that time but Diaghilev transformed it.

This major retrospective will celebrate Diaghilev enduring influence on 20th–century art and design including objects from the V&A’s own unrivalled collection and from a variety of lenders. Jane Pritchard curator – together with Geoffrey Marsh –explains the reason why this exhibition was opened: “At the V&A Museum we have Britain’s major collection of theatre and performance materials and we have a vast collection of Ballet Russes. We have the largest collection of costumes in the world from Diaghilev’s company. And we also have very expensive collection of designs, drawings and archives. So two thirds of the exhibition comes from our own collection and the rests are loans.

So it seems very appropriate that we should do an exhibition on the Ballet Russes”. The ballet uses the human body to express story and emotions. Then an interesting part of the show analyse the elements of the production of a ballet: inspiration, choreography, music and sets. “In the third gallery which is our central gallery we do much more deconstructing what goes into a ballet. So we’re looking at the ideas, the choreography, the music and the sets. People who come to the V&A Museum tends to have a general interest in the arts, they maybe have not great ideas about dance in particular” Jane Pritchard said. Ballet Russes had five main choreographers Mikhail Fokine, Vaslav Nijinsky, Leonide Massine, Branislava Nijinska and the young George Balanchine. Particularly Nijinsky, on one side his dances reflect the Expressionism art, but also he was Diaghilev lover for many years, followed by Massine. On show the original works of the many artists and designers that collaborated with Diaghilev to create sets, costumes, props and cloths including Leon Bakst, Alexandre Benois, Coco Chanel, Jean Cocteau, Giorgio De Chirico, Natalia Goncharova, Tamara Karsavina, Mikhail Larionov, Serge Lifar, Henri Matisse, Nicholas Roerich, Misia Sert, and Auguste Rodin. Amazing the huge front cloth for Le Train Bleu, an example of the collaborations with Pablo Picasso, who also married a company dancer Olga Kokholva.

The superb music had a vital role in the Ballet Russes.

New scores were commissioned by Diaghilev mainly from leading Russian and French composer for nearly half of these ballet including Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Debussy, Ravel, De Falla, Respighi, Satie and Poulenc. Specifically created for the show footages of composer and broadcaster Howard Goodall explaining the development of music accompanying the Ballets Russes. It is also possible to see videos about creating a mini- choreography so could understand what choreography is. “Because we also feel that music is crucial has brought to the Ballet Russes how’s the ballets has new music written for that. If you just put music in the background now, people don’t pay attention to it. So we used to put music around us. We acknowledged the British composer, he is also a podcaster, Howard Goodall to make four AVs explain what’s happening and music in that shows is Mussorgsky and Stravinsky and Debussy. How is about to composing of the dance and the importance of the Firebird composed in the 1920” Jane Pritchard said. The exhibition begins with Diaghilev’s life in St. Petersburg. With an overview of the dance scene the first gallery tells the story of the Ballets Russes up to the outbreak of War in 1914, including a rich array of costumes designed by Bakst. The second gallery will take visitors behind the scenes of the Ballets Russes’ productions their inspiration, choreography, music and creation of the sets.

The exhibition will look at how the Ballets Russes survived during the War having been cut off from their roots in Russia with little access to the cities they performed in before 1914.

The final gallery will present Diaghilev and his company in the 1920s a period when he had achieved great status in European culture. The works of artists, authors and musicians he knew or was associated with will be shown – including manuscripts by Joyce, Proust and Eliot. Diaghilev’s dedication to pushing boundaries and collaborating with the best designers, choreographers and artists of his time left an inspiring legacy.

An interesting bit of trivia is that even a perfume was created by Chyphré dedicated to Diaghilev.

Today the V&A Museum proposes again, in limited edition, “Diaghilev” a fragrance by Roja Dove. The exhibition isn’t an end in itself, there are also other related events like talk and tours, courses and workshops, study day and young people and families.

Internet details: www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/future_exhibs/diaghilev/index.html

Published for: www.italoeuropeo.co.uk

Direct link: http://www.italoeuropeo.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3256:-diaghilevs-ballet-russes-on-show-at-the-vaa-museum&catid=53:artsarte&Itemid=214

Written by davidfranchi

November 14, 2010 at 7:36 pm