The Cult of Beauty at the V&A

April 10, 2011

O museu Victoria and Albert de Londres apresenta a primeira grande exposição dedicada ao Esteticismo, enfatizando o trabalho produzido por artistas, designers e arquitetos do movimento contrário ao materialismo da Inglaterra do século 19 e conhecido pelo slogan “Arte pela Arte”.
Nos anos 1860 o novo e excitante ‘Culto à Beleza’ uniu Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Morris e Edward Burne-Jones; James McNeill Whistler e Frederic Leighton; e finalmente G.F.Watts, em uma tentativa de concretizar seu mundo imaginativo através da criação de móveis ‘artísticos’ e da decoração de ambientes. Nesse período, as casas de artistas e seus estilos de vida extravagantes se tornaram objetos de fascinação, criando uma revolução na arquitetura e decoração de interiores que levou ao reconhecimento da necessidade de beleza no dia-a-dia.
O nascimento do Esteticismo na pintura teve assim seu equivalente nas artes decorativas com o novo e difundido interesse pela decoração de casas. Muitos dos arquitetos e designers avant-garde se interessaram por trabalhar tanto para clientes de famílias ricas como no design das casas de indivíduos da classe média.
A abertura da Grosvenor Gallery em 1877, por sua vez, propiciou aos pintores do movimento um lugar glamuroso para exibir suas obras. A pintura esteticista se tornou o entusiasmo fashion de um círculo grande, rico e intelectual, disposto a adotar, além dos ideais do movimento, o estilo ‘artístico’ de vestir.
Oscar Wilde – que se tornou famoso promovendo a idéia de ‘The House Beautiful’ – escolheu a festa de abertura da Grosvenor para fazer sua sensacional aparição em Londres vestindo um terno feito sob medida seguindo os contornos e as cores de um violoncelo. O Esteticismo frequentemente se misturava à performance.
Na última década do reinado da rainha Victoria o movimento entrou na sua fase decadente, caracterizada pelos desenho em preto e branco de Aubrey Beardsley no The Yellow Book. A exposição se encerra com pinturas desse período final, incluindo obras como Bath of Psyche de Leighton , Midsummer de Albert Moore e a última pintura de Rossetti, The Daydream, mostradas ao lado de esculturas em bronze e materiais de Alfred Gilbert e outros expoentes do ‘The New Sculpture’.

The Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement está no Museu Vitória e Albert em Londres até 17 de julho de 2011.
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The V&A presents the first major exhibition dedicated to Aestheticism, which highlights the spectacular work produced by the artists, designers and architects of the movement which stood in stark and sometimes shocking contrast to the crass materialism of Britain in the 19th century. “Art for art’s sake” was its battle cry, a slogan that originated with the French poet Théophile Gautier.
In the 1860s the new and exciting ‘Cult of Beauty’ united romantic bohemians such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Pre-Raphaelite William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones, maverick figures such as James McNeill Whistler, and the ‘Olympians’ who belonged to the circle of Frederic Leighton and G.F.Watts.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and his friends were the first to attempt to realise their imaginative world in the creation of ‘artistic’ furniture and the decoration of rooms. In this period, artists’ houses and their extravagant lifestyles became the object of public fascination and sparked a revolution in the architecture and interior decoration of houses that led to a widespread recognition of the need for beauty in everyday life.
The rise of Aestheticism in painting was paralleled in the decorative arts by a new and increasingly widespread interest in the decoration of houses. Many of the key avant-garde architects and designers interested themselves not only in working for wealthy clients but also in the reform of design for the middle-class home. The notion of ‘The House Beautiful’ became a touchstone of cultured life.
The opening of the Grosvenor Gallery (with its famous ‘greenery-yallery’ walls) in 1877 at last gave the Aesthetic painters a fashionable and glamorous showcase for their much-discussed art. Aesthetic painting became the fashionable enthusiasm of a circle that was grand, wealthy and intellectual. As well as buying paintings these new patrons were keen to embrace Aesthetic ideals, commissioning portraits and even adopting the styles of ‘artistic’ dress.
Oscar Wilde – who initially made his name promoting the idea of ‘The House Beautiful’ – chose the occasion of a Grosvenor opening party to make his first sensational appearance in London wearing a custom-designed suit following the contours and colour of a cello. The aesthetic movement frequently veered over into performance art.
By the 1880s Britain was in the grip of the ‘greenery-yallery’ Aesthetic Craze, lovingly satirised by Gilbert and Sullivan in their famous comic opera Patience and by the caricaturist George Du Maurier in the pages of Punch.
In the last decade of Queen Victoria’s reign the Aesthetic Movement entered its final, fascinating Decadent phase, characterised by the extraordinary black-and-white drawings of Aubrey Beardsley in The Yellow Book. The exhibition ends with a superb group of the greatest late Aesthetic paintings, including masterpieces such as Leighton’s Bath of Psyche, Albert Moore’s Midsummer and Rossetti’s final picture The Daydream, shown alongside the sensuous nude figures sculpted in bronze and precious materials by Alfred Gilbert and other brilliant younger exponents of ‘The New Sculpture’.

The Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement is at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London SW7 from 2 April to 17 July.


A world of beauty, flamboyance and faint danger…

One Response to “The Cult of Beauty at the V&A”


  1. […] de Londres uniu forças com o museu Victoria and Albert, que até 17 de julho apresenta ‘“The Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement“, e dedicou suas vitrines à exposição, convidando para um duplo programa […]

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