Since its invention in the mid 19th century, photography has been at the forefront of progressive art making traditions—so its presence in The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860–1900 is no surprise. By the 1890s, photography was a half-century old and its supporters vociferously claimed it to be an independent art form, advocating for the idea of "art photography." Today we celebrate the birthday of Julia Margaret Cameron, one of the greatest photographers from this period and whose work is currently on display in The Cult of Beauty at the Legion of Honor (closing this Sunday, June 17).
The corset looms large in special exhibitions at both the de Young and the Legion of Honor. Jean Paul Gaultier, the subject of the de Young's The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk , integrated this iconic garment into his prêt-à-porter collections as early as 1983. Meanwhile, over at the Legion of Honor in The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860 –1900 (on view through June 17) the artists of the Aesthetic Movement rejected the corset in defiance of Victorian era fashions and social mores. Tonight, Friday Nights at the de Young explores the surprisingly dynamic world of Haute Corsets , with local corset makers Dark Garden and a screening of Truth or Dare , in which Madonna gets into the groove wearing Gaultier's unforgettable cone bra corset. Before you lace up, bone up on the fascinating history of this beguiling bodice!
In the special exhibition Making the Modern Picture Book: Children’s Books from the Victorian Era (on view at the Legion of Honor through June 17), the intimate art of 19th-century story telling is revealed. England at this time was undergoing a formative period in the design, production, and marketing of children’s books, which were often gifted as rewards or prizes, and reinforced socially acceptable behavior in the guise of entertainment. Maintaining the principles of the Aesthetic Movement, publishers and renowned illustrators achieved a compelling fusion of art and literature.
Tonight, Friday Nights at the de Young celebrates the history of the dandy from Oscar Wilde to Jean Paul Gaultier. Whereas Oscar Wilde’s aesthetic style was derided as too feminine, Jean Paul Gaultier embraces gender bending, dressing men in skirts and women in exquisitely tailored suits. In this way, Gaultier's designs approach a new androgyny and subvert established fashion codes. The designer toys with standard concepts of the masculine and feminine throughout the special exhibition The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk , but one exhibit in particular literally speaks to this issue. He is the Man in the Mirror.
This weekend marks your last chance to experience the special exhibition Arthur Tress: San Francisco 1964 , on view at the de Young until June 3. As book designer and guest blogger Martin Venezky aptly notes, the catalogue represents a lasting impression of an otherwise temporary exhibition. Today, Venezky shares with us the process behind the creation of this unique publication.
The catalogue for the special exhibition Arthur Tress: San Francisco 1964 provides a nice case study into the inner workings of a book design. The book itself is deceptively simple. It contains reproductions of sixty-eight photographs from the exhibition, an essay, an interview, locations and credits, a foreword, and a set of additional images—some historical, some personal, and some working contact sheets. But beneath the seemingly placid surface there were hundreds of options to consider and decisions to make.
Although the special exhibition The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde 1860–1900 (on view at the Legion of Honor through June 17) primarily features art by English artists, the impact of American expatriate James McNeill Whistler cannot be ignored. Whistler is best known for his subdued but complicated portraits—such as the world-famous Arrangement in Gray and Black No. 1 or “Whistler’s Mother”—but today’s FRAME|WORK highlights a rather unusual painting by this American in England. The Gold Scab: Eruption in Frilthy Lucre (The Creditor) is in the permanent collection of the de Young but is currently on view as a part of The Cult of Beauty.
For the past week, Max Fishko and company have been tirelessly converting the Concourse Exhibition Center from a cavernous abandoned train depot into artMRKT, San Francisco’s premier contemporary art venue. Tonight’s exclusive preview benefits the de Young and the Legion of Honor, so we thought we’d take you inside for a behind-the-scenes look at this remarkable transformation.
Tomorrow, May 12, 2012, the Legion of Honor presents Music, Muses and Divas , public programs associated with The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860–1900 (on view through June 17). Premier scholars of Victorian art Tim Barringer and Peter Trippi lecture on the complmentary topics of music and theater in the context of the Aesthetic Movement. We asked our lecturers a few questions about their respective talks to provide insight into the day’s presentations.
Guest-blogger Tim Svenonius is the interpretive media producer at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and an artist in his own right. Here he shares his insights and reflections after seeing Matter + Spirit: The Sculpture of Stephen De Staebler on view at the de Young through May 13.