July 16, 2014

"The Pre-Raphealite Legacy" @ The Met

Looking for something to fill the need for culture without spending hours in a museum on a beautiful summer day?  I have the perfect exhibition for you!  Presented in two galleries in the Lehman Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a thorough but concise look at the "Pre-Raphaelite Legacy" and its contribution to the fine and decorative arts.

Sir Edward Burne-Jones "The Love Song", 1868-1877

The Pre-Raphealites actually began as the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in London in 1848 when a group of seven young artists and writers began to create in a radical new style.  Although the original group disbanded shortly after, their fresh approach to art and design continued with the second generation of Pre-Raphaelites who took up the cause with a renewed vigor and kept it alive for nearly a half century.  The Pre-Raphaelites championed Beauty and the artistic whole.  They believed in romantic idealism and visual splendor, art for art's sake and the equalization of all forms of artistic endeavor from sculpture to writing to home decor.

Sir Edward Burne-Jones "Angeli Laudantes", 1898 

Drawn exclusively from the Metropolitan Museum's own collection, this exhibition is a brief but excellent overview of the Movement, its aesthetic and its primary protagonists.   Drawings on paper, woven tapestries, printed books, ceramic plates, wallpaper, furniture and stained glass windows are all on view and exemplify the completeness of the movement - indeed, how the Pre-Raphaelites were advocating a life style rather than just producing objects.

Fragment of hand-blocked wallpaper
in the "Blackthorn" pattern, 1892
William Morris design

The influence of the Pre-Raphaelites can be seen in many 20th century art movements from Symbolism to Surrealism and though its popularity waxes and wanes, the idea of beauty for beauty's sake continues to fascinate.

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