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Archive for the ‘art exhibits’ Category

The first exhibition featuring the life and achievements of Virginia Woolf through portraiture will be staged at the National Portrait Gallery in London, according to The Guardian.

NPG 5933. Virginia Woolf (née Stephen) by Vanessa Bell (née Stephen), 1912. Oil on board, 15 3⁄4 x 13 3⁄8 inches (400 x 340 mm). National Portrait Gallery, London

NPG 5933. Virginia Woolf (née Stephen) by Vanessa Bell (née Stephen), 1912. Oil on board, 15 3⁄4 x 13 3⁄8 inches (400 x 340 mm). National Portrait Gallery, London

The exhibit, curated by Frances Spalding, will feature more than 100 works, including paintings, photographs, drawings and rare archive material. The letter Woolf wrote to her sister Vanessa Bell before her suicide in 1941 will be included.

Titled “Virginia Woolf: Art, life and vision,” will be staged July 10 to Oct. 26. Read more.

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This month, the International Virginia Woolf Society shared a series of “interesting facts about Virginia Woolf on its Facebook page.

Vanessa Bell

The most recent, * Interesting fact no. 12, * told the story of how Woolf, 28, and her sister, Vanessa Bell, 30, “once appeared in public almost nude,” according to the judgment of some who saw them at a ball held in conjunction with Roger Fry’s 1910 exhibition of Post-Impressionist painters at the Grafton Galleries.

Inspired by the paintings, the two sisters browned their arms and legs, adorned themselves with flowers and beads, and appeared as bare-shouldered, bare-legged, ‘indecent’, figures from a Gauguin canvas.

It’s said that the two women recreated their Gauguin girl look for a later photo, which has not been located.

Visit the IVWS Facebook page for more interesting facts about Virginia, including the fact that Woolf’s Dreadnought Hoax escapade heads the list of “The Twelve Best Facts from a Year of Interesting Literature.”.

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Carol Anshaw has created paintings based on interpretations of Vita’s life in this exhibition, “Walking anshaw-ecardThrough Leaves,” Nov. 15 – Dec. 13  at Rockford University in Rockford, Ill.

For those of us not close enough to see it in person, some of these works, including an imagined tryst with Virginia in the basement at Richmond, are on Carol’s site.Carol has evoked Woolf in fiction as well as on canvas.

I began communicating with her when I was researching references to Woolf in contemporary fiction and posted about her on Blogging Woolf.

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Here’s a preview of Lottie Cole’s “Bloomsbury Interiors” show on Nov. 19 at Cricket Fine Art, 2 Park Walk, SW10.

http://youtu.be/SHqWpCpmQ_4

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Blogging Woolf is back from a holiday hiatus made longer by a bout with On Being Ill — the virus, not the Virginia Woolf essay published in 1930  by the Hogarth Press. But now that we are back, we recommend a couple of essays for your edification in this new year.

armoury-show-posterThe first, “1913–What year…” by Kathleen Dixon Donnelly on the SuchFriends blog, takes an in-depth look at the New York Armory Show in February 1913, connecting it to Bloomsbury Group painters Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, Roger Fry, etc. who closed London’s Second Post-Impressionist Exhibit early so many of the paintings could be sent on to New York.

Donnelly promises to post updates all year on what was happening to writers in 1913. You can also check out the Such Friends page on Facebook.

The second is Blogging Woolf contributor Alice Lowe‘s latest published work, “On the Road Again,” which appears in the current issue of The Feathered Flounder.

Lowe notes that “being the mother of a daughter and the daughter of a mother is a rich source of feathered flounderreflection.” In this latest poignant essay, she draws on those dual experiences, as well as “from those other gems, memory and aging” to wonder whether she has encountered the beginning of her dotage.

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Night and Day: Monk’s House, Rodmell (2011), an original cut paper collage by Amanda White that is part of her Writers' Houses series. See more at http://www.amandawhite-contemporarynaiveart.com.

Woolf and collage, anyone?

That was the question that came up on the VWoolf Listserv a few weeks ago. Other list members promptly and generously shared information on the topic of Woolf and modern collage.

Here are the highlights of that discussion, along with some details I have added:

  • Brenda Helt cited Woolf’s writing about the 1910 and 1912 Post-Impressionist Exhibitions and the Omega Workshop.  Specifically, she mentioned the
    sometimes snide and snarky commentary” in Volumes 1 and 2 of Woolf’s letters, indexed as “Post-impressionist Exhibition” and “Omega Workshop,” and “her later more complex and appreciative understanding” included in the chapters on Post-impressionism and the Omega in Woolf’s biography of Roger Fry.
  • Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and other post-impressionists worked with collage. Both used collage in objects sold at the Omega Workshops and in decorating furniture at Charleston Farmhouse and elsewhere.
  • Woolf knew of early Cubist collage, but would have been most familiar with applied arts such as collage through Bell’s and Grant’s work, as well as the work of other Bloomsbury artists.
  • Three examples of Bell’s and Grant’s collages from 1912, 1914 and 1915 are included in the exhibition catalog for A Room of Their Own: The Bloomsbury Artists in American Collections. You can read a post about the last stop on that exhibit’s 2010 cross-country tour here. Collage examples in the exhibition catalogue include:
    • Bell’s Composition (1914), oil and gouache on cut-and-pasted paper, Page 124
    • Grant’s In Memoriam: Rupert Brooke (1915), oil and collage on panel, Page 176
    • Grant’s Design for a Fire Screen (1912), watercolor, gouache and collage, Page 220
  • Christopher Reed, associate professor of English and visual culture at Penn State, discusses and shows examples of others in Bloomsbury Rooms: Modernism, Subculture, Domesticity. They include:
    • Grant’s On the Mantelpiece, 46 Gordon Square (1914), oil and collage on board, Page 149.
    • Roger Fry’s Essay in Abstract Design (1915), oil and collaged bus tickets, Page 155.
    • Grant’s Abstract Kinetic Collage Painting with Sound (1914), gouache, watercolor and collage on paper, Page 156
    • Grant’s Abstract (1914-5), paint, fabric and collaged paper on board, Page 158
    • Grant’s Interior at 46 Gordon Square (1914-5), collaged paper on board, Page 159
  • In Bloomsbury Rooms, Reed discusses Grant’s use of a piece of foil from a cigarette pack liner in In Memoriam as its only collaged element and says it is echoed in Woolf’s review of Edward Marsh’s 1918 memoir on Brooke (161). He also mentions that reviewers unanimously dismissed Grant’s abstract collages in the 1915 Vorticist exhibition, calling them a foreign joke (162).
  • Other important research sources on this topic include:
    • Frances Spalding’s biographies of Bell and of Grant
    • Simon Watney’s The Art of Duncan Grant
    • Douglas Turnbaugh’s Duncan Grant and the Bloomsbury Group
    • Richard Shone’s The Art of Bloomsbury
    • Bell and Nicholson’s Charleston

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Editor’s Note: This commentary and photo were contributed by Suzanne Bellamy who exhibited her painting, “Woolf and the Chaucer Horse,” at the 21st Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf.

"Woolf and the Chaucer Horse" by Suzanne Bellamy

The research

Researching illuminated manuscripts and Psalters opened the vision of the written page to the visual world that has always been there for me in Woolf as a reader. The page drips with image and interaction with other form, and as a writer of that tradition she embodies that now invisible world. Woolf says in ANON that the printing press ultimately took that rich layered other dimension away, but she is still soaked in it in her visual invocations, in her synaesthesic imagination.

The painting

I started working on the painting as I was reading the scholarship around Between The Acts, the late 1930s and Woolf’s last writings. Seeing her riding on Chaucer’s horse, as the Chaucer of her times, came visually first, then all else flowed from that. The Chaucerian trope of the stories wrapped within the journey infuses all Woolf’s work, as also in the essayistic form itself, street haunting being an expression of the pilgrim’s way.

The painting is as much an illuminated manuscript as a map… as a collage of layered memory, where everything happens and all at the same time, as in the novel. In harmony with the 1930s’ rural revivalism and sensitivity to possible loss of cultural heritage, the spirit of continuity is challenged by the threat from the planes and the coming war. But the land itself holds the dream of a common culture which is soaked in Nature and wild forms, animals birds, structures and sounds.

Some images swirled around in my head for weeks but never made it onto the canvas much as I tried to force the issue. The old wall and the ladder, the horse with the green tail, Sohrab the dog, the greenhouse, Mrs. Swithin’s hammer, and also Mrs. Swithin’s criss-cross letter (a term from ancient manuscripts), imps, elves, demons and mirrors, all the flowers, cars, the barn, the pub, the megaphone, Giles feeling chained to a rock, the white lady — those never made it but are in there somehow.

But the stegasaurus and the mammoth made it, and the fossils, the Roman roads, the planes, the pond, the house (taken from Vita Sackville-West’s book on English Country Houses), the cows, the Ouse and the map of the Sussex coast, and then the Celtic maze which held it all together. The maze, the Chaucerian horse, and the lines of the Prologue were the moments that gave it all a structure. The idea that words came from hearing birdsong drawn from the core of the maze holds the centre.

There are several examples of doubling and tripling images, as for example with the Uffington White Horse, the Guernica Horse and the Chaucer Horse. Also with the Circle of Birds and the formation of Lancaster Bombers over the English Channel, as contrary formations. The South Downs, the coastline, the map of Sussex, Lewes and Rodmell, the River Ouse and tributaries, prehistory, mastodons, cars and Roman roads, images improvised from medieval illuminated manuscripts. I used the Oxford Ellesmere text for the five lines of the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales. Copying those five lines straight onto the canvas from the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, from the online Oxford site of the Ellesmere text, was a deep thrill.

The exhibit

The painting, which measures two by four metres, was planned to act as a set canvas behind the pageant performance, but that proved to be technically impossible. In the end it hung in the Bute Hall below the stained glass windows, close to the window of Chaucer. The light streamed through the image of Woolf on her horse, the Chaucer of her times, and all was well.

More coverage of the 21st Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf on Blogging Woolf:

  

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Valentina Mazzei and her Woolf bust

Today is the last day to vote for Valentina Mazzei, in the Art Takes London competition.

Her Virginia Woolf bust charmed conferencegoers at the 20th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf in Georgetown, Kentucky, last June. Vote here by clicking on the stars in the upper right hand corner of the page.

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Ilana Simons' Woolf painting as it appears on Flickr

Ilana Simons, sent out an invite to a Jan. 14 gallery opening in Chelsea featuring the work of 11 visual artists and her own stitching series, “Let Me Self Soothe Without Self-Harm.”

I live too far away to attend, but I’m wondering if any Blogging Woolf readers stopped by last Friday. The exhibit included Simons’ most recent painting of Woolf.

Simons has painted Woolf before. On paper plates, in fact. Two Woolf portraits are included in Simons’ collection of 50 portraits of authors on plates, which she created one summer using 99-cent tubs of acrylics.

A literature professor and the author of  A Life of One’s Own: A Guide to Better Living Through the Work and Wisdom of Virginia Woolf (2007), Simons also writes weekly for the Barnes and Noble Unabashedly Bookish blog.

Writing and art are not Simons’ only interests. She is a trained therapist and writes the Literary Mind blog for Psychology Today.  Simons mentions Woolf in some of her posts. “Painting Might Help You Find Flow” and “A Therapist Should be a Good Storyteller” are two I noticed.

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Tomorrow, you can decorate your own Bloomsbury plate. Yesterday I heard a lecture on Bloomsbury artists.

These are some of the final activities during the final days of the final stop on the cross-country tour of the traveling exhibit, A Room of Their Own: The Bloomsbury Artists in American Collections.

The exhibit will be at the Palmer Museum of Art at Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pa., through Sept. 26. After that, all the artwork, books, fabric and furniture will be carefully packed and returned to their owners. Artist Jasper Johns, for example, will be reunited with his Omega Workshop pottery.

When Benjamin Harvey, associate professor of art history at Mississippi State University,  reviewed the exhibit for Blogging Woolf nearly one year ago, he recommended that Bloomsbury afficionados “make every effort to see it.”

Riders on the storm

Early Thursday evening, I took his advice, setting off from Ohio to Pennsylvania in a violent rainstorm — the one that brought tornadoes to the East Coast — with the expectation that we would view the Bloomsbury exhibit the next day. We did, despite the unfortunate weather that kept us on the edge of our car seat the entire way.

It was worth the trip.

I have been to Charleston Farmhouse and Monk’s House, so I have seen many original works of Bloomsbury art. But this exhibit was different. It displays a large collection of Bloomsbury art together in a gallery setting, which gave me the chance to step back and appreciate it one piece at a time without feeling overwhelmed or rushed by tour guides.

As a result, I felt a new appreciation for the artistry of Vanessa Bell. I clearly saw that her artwork stands on its own rather than in the shadow of Duncan Grant.

Giant canvas greeting

© 2010 by Nasher Museum Blogs

Visitors to the Penn State exhibit are initially greeted by a giant Duncan Grant painting that depicts an exuberant male nude holding cymbals. Although it dwarfs even the tallest art lover, the painting is just one part of the 1937 original oil on canvas, which was commissioned to hang over the massive fireplace in the first-class lounge of the Queen Mary, according to Christopher Reed, associate professor of English and visual culture at Penn State and co-curator for the exhibit.

Along with other commissioned designs, such as upholstery fabric of cotton velveteen patterned with an obviously Bloomsbury design, and carpeting, it was never used on the ship. Cunard, the ship’s owner, changed course and decided to use an art deco look for the first-class quarters instead.

Grant’s massive painting featuring the nude cymbal player and other elements was discovered years later in the barn of Kenneth Clark, English art historian. It was covered with pigeon droppings, so had to undergo extensive restoration before it was fit for exhibition, Reed explained.

Drawn into Bloomsbury

A multi-media display greets visitors to the Bloomsbury exhibit.

A multi-media display introduces visitors to the actual exhibit, and it draws them into the Bloomsbury scene with its life-size graphics of a Charleston Farmhouse bedroom. Just below the window ledge is  a video screen where a slide presentation shows scenes from the early 20th-century era, photographs of Bloomsbury Group members, examples of their art and quotes that help illuminate their thinking.

Even the display tables that hold important artifacts are decorated in Bloomsbury style. They were loaned to the Penn State exhibit by Cornell. Inside the glass cases resting on the decorated display tables are letters from Leonard and Virginia Woolf, Roger Fry and others, as well as numerous volumes published by the Hogarth Press. These included Virginia’s novels with dust jackets decorated by Vanessa Bell, along with the English translations of the works of Sigmund Freud.

Influence of Bloomsbury artists

Joyce Robinson and Christopher Reed, co-curators of the Bloomsbury exhibit at Penn State

In his noon lecture, Christopher Reed, associate professor of English and visual culture at Penn State and co-curator for the exhibit, discussed the influence of Bloomsbury artists on early twentieth-century thinking about art and the art of home decoration.

He also noted their appreciation for the unique imperfections of handmade art – from Omega Workshop pottery to the utilitarian shutters painted by Vanessa Bell.

While some items that were included in earlier installations were not part of the Palmer exhibit — such as Woolf’s writing desk decorated by Quentin Bell — three paintings that did not appear in earlier exhibits are part of this one. All three were loaned by an individual who viewed an earlier exhibit and noted that he had several paintings by the same artist at home.

The three turned out to be the work of Duncan Grant. They are:

  • “Hatbox”
  • “Still Life with Jug”
  • “Paul Roche in the Bath”

Joyce Robinson, curator at the Palmer, gave visitors insight into how Vanessa and Virginia worked together. She quoted Woolf as saying the sisters had the same eyes but wore different spectacles.

Palmer's Bloomsbury bookmark

In particular, she cited the edition of Kew Gardens decorated by Vanessa Bell. Robinson said Vanessa and Virginia worked on the layout together, making sure that Vanessa’s decorations and Virginia’s hand-set type complimented each other both visually and symbolically.

More on Woolf and knitting

Another interesting item from the exhibit, in light of the ongoing discussion on the VWoolf Listserv regarding Woolf and knitting,  is a pencil drawing by Roger Fry depicting his daughter, titled “Pamela Knitting and Reading.”

Reed, author of Bloomsbury Rooms: Modernism, Subculture, and Domesticity, said some argue that paintings depicting Virginia knitting really show her engaged in book binding.

Welcome commodification at the museums

Bloomsbury 2010 tattoo

To view more artwork from the exhibit visit the Nasher Museum exhibit page. The Duke University museum was the first stop on the tour. You can also purchase the exhibit catalogue from Cornell.

However, unless you make a trip to the Palmer soon, you will have no chance to get the freebies they gave out: an exhibit bookmark and a Bloomsbury 2010 temporary tattoo that features Woolf. I can’t wait to apply mine.

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