“Useful and Beautiful” Conference at the University of Delaware Announced

The University of Delaware has announced a conference entitled “Useful and Beautiful: The Transatlantic Arts of William Morris and the Pre-Raphaelites.” The conference will run between October 7-9 at the University of Delaware, the Delaware Art Museum, and the Winterthur Museum. This sounds like such an exciting conference. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend, but I hope that some readers will go and report back!

The conference, which has been organized together with the William Morris Society in the United States, will take feature rare books and manuscripts from the University’s holdings, as well as fine and decorative arts from the Delaware Art Museum. The keynote speaker for the conference will be Fred Kaplan, Professor Emeritus of English at Queens College and the Graduate Centre of the City University of New York. His address will be held Thursday, October 7, at 4:30 p.m. in the Reserve Room of the Morris Library. Dr. Kaplan has written a number of biographies,including The Singular Mark Twain; Gore Vidal; Henry James: The Imagination of Genius; Charles Dickens; Thomas Carlyle(finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize); and, most recently,Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer. His lecture, entitled “Useful and Beautiful: Henry James and Mark Twain,” is sponsored by the University of Delaware Library Associates and associated with the exhibition, London Bound: American Writers in Britain, 1870–1916, at the University of Delaware Library.

In addition to the keynote address, there will be numerous sessions by internationally recognized scholars and specialists in Pre-Raphaelite Art, and a special performance of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest by the University of Delaware’s critically acclaimed Resident Ensemble Players/Professional Theatre Training Program.

For more information, contact Mark Samuels Lasner, Senior Research Fellow, University of Delaware Library by email at: [email protected], (302) 831-3250; or visit them on the web www.udel.edu/conferences/uandb

The conference is priced at $150 per person, and $75 for students. There is no charge for University of Delaware faculty, students and staff.

“Apostles of Beauty: Arts and Crafts from Britain to Chicago”

“Apostles of Beauty: Arts and Crafts from Britain to Chicago” is a new exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago celebrating the Arts and Crafts movement. For those of you who would love to see Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s “Beata Beatrix” in the flesh, this is your chance, as it’s one of the pieces featured in the exhibit!

“Apostles of Beauty” features 187 “handcrafted, organic works by the movement’s most notable practitioners.” The pieces in the show are drawn from a variety of artistic disciplines, including ceramics, wood and metalwork, paintings, photographs and textiles.

In its overview of the exhibit, the museum’s website calls the Arts and Crafts movement “one of the most politically progressive and aesthetically compelling artistic movements of modern times.” It planted the seeds for the sort of critical thinking about modern living that has driven the green movement. Arts and Crafts connected organic thinking and living on a large scale for the first time, and demonstrated that the “beautiful and useful” as William Morris loved to say, were not mutually exclusive. As the museum’s website so beautifully puts it:

The Arts and Crafts movement sprang from a rebellion against industrial life and mass-produced objects yet eventually united hand and machine in the service of beauty.

On a side note, it certainly seems like 2009 has been a great year for interest in Arts and Crafts and the Pre-Raphaelites. It would be interesting to know if there are actually more exhibits being held, or if it just seems like there are because I’m always looking for them! (I suppose I could find out if I had the time or discipline to research the issue). Could it be a bit of both?

“Apostles of Beauty” runs now through January 31, 2010.

Read more at The Art Instutute of Chicago’s website.

Imperishable Beauty at the Cincinnati Art Museum

For those of you in the Ohio area, there’s a new exhibit of Arts Nouveau Jewellery at the Cincinnati Art Museum. Entitled “Imperishable Beauty,” the exhibit opened November 17, 2009, and features jewellery designed by René Lalique, Henri Vever, Philippe Wolfers and Tiffany & Co. In addition, textiles by William Morris, posters by Alphonse Mucha, Tiffany glass, silver, and ceramics from the Cincinnati Art Museum’s permanent collection will also be featured in order to give a background for the art movements that influenced these designers.

One of the staggering aspects of Art Nouveau jewellery is the realism and detail that the best designers were able to bring to their work. This dragonfly brooch by Belgian artist Philippe Wolfers (Belgian, 1858–1929) is constructed from platinum, gold, enamel, diamond, ruby, and pearl, but it looks so life-like. Beautiful, useful, and true to nature – definitely wearable art!

The exhibition will run from now until January 17, 2010. For more information, visit the Cincinnati Art Museum website. There are a number of related programmes and events that sound like a lot of fun!

Images courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Top image: Orchid brooch, 1901. Georges Fouquet (French, 1862–1957). Gold, enamel, diamond, and pearl.