The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, England has announced that it is putting together an exhibit of Pre-Raphaelite paintings. This isn’t particularly earth-shattering news in itself, but their plan is to bring the show to San Francisco, which is an enjoyable six hour drive North through vineyards and amazing coastal scenery from my home, and my favorite city to visit. I’m going to keep a very close eye on this, and I won’t be missing the show when it gets here.
Late 19th Century Pre-Raphaelite painters produced art that was beautiful for the sake of being beautiful; enamored by romance and opposed to functionalism, they looked for grace and craftsmanship in their work, producing richly detailed images of chivalrous men and graceful women. Although these are ideas and themes that have been deeply unfashionable during the modern period and have attracted the scorn of the contemporary art world, the romantic work of the Pre-Raphaelites has remained very popular and now seems to earn increasing attention as we steadily move away from the skepticism and ironic self-reflection that characterized 20th Century Post-Modernism.
Fantasy seems to accompany economic difficulty in the West, so given that we seem to be immersed in a downturn of epic proportions I’m looking for new millennium painters who are engaged in the same ideas that excited the Pre-Raphaelites for the gallery at the University, planning an exhibit to correspond with the V and A show when it comes to California, showing how the work of these wonderful painters continues to influence artists today.
There’s a story about the V & A Pre-Raphaelite exhibit in the Guardian newspaper here.