Arts & Culture

5 Must-Reads from Art & Object this Month

We share our top picks from our friends at Art & Object.

By Sekka

Bridgerton. (L to R) Shelley Conn as Mary Sharma, Ruth Gemmell as Lady Violet Bridgerton, Adjoa Andoh as Lady Danbury in episode 207. Image: CR. LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX © 2022.

Sekka has partnered up with Art & Object to bring you intriguing articles about fine arts every month. Founded in 2017,  Art & Object is a fine art news website that brings readers the latest art news and most important art stories. Its mission is to inform collectors and drive the conversation about art. It is based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA. Here are our top five picks of stories published on their website  for you to kick off April with. 

1. Can you name five women artists from the Dutch Golden Age? 

Judith Leyster, Self Portrait. Image: National Gallery of Art, DC.

Although men have dominated art historical narratives of the period, women were active as artists and innovators in the seventeenth-century Netherlands. Women often operated outside traditional professional areas and without much formal training, what art historian Elizabeth Honig has called the ‘grey zone between the one world and the other.’ But they were there, working in a variety of mediums, marketing and selling their work, and advancing new genres and techniques.

The names and careers of many women were erased in the centuries to follow. They were variously relegated to the category of ‘amateur,’ positioned as exceptions to rules set by men, or their works were misattributed to their husbands, brothers, or teachers. If you cannot name five women artists from the period, it is a fault in how women are remembered. 

Read more here.

2. Julia Margaret Cameron & Questioning Beauty in Victorian Photography 

Julia Margaret Carmen, A Study, 1865-66. Image courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York

??Julia Margaret Cameron’s early critics were concerned with beauty—the beauty of her sitters, her sensitivity in capturing it, her own physical charm, and, of course, where she failed to meet certain aesthetic ideals. When, in 1926, Bloomsbury Group-celebrities Virginia Woolf and Roger Fry wrote the first earnest appraisal of Julia Margaret Cameron’s photography, Fry remarked, ‘Beauty was a serious matter to Mrs. Cameron and her beautiful sitters.’ Woolf too defined Cameron by this trait, partially in contrast to her Victorian setting: ‘it was from her mother, presumably, that she inherited her love of beauty and her distaste for the cold and formal conventions of English society.’ Woolf even claimed that, at the end of Cameron’s life, she lay observing a starry sky, when she ‘breathed the one word, “Beautiful,” and so died.’

Woolf and Fry’s short volume is called Victorian Photographs of Famous Men and Fair Women. Like the above statements, the title could be read and accepted as an of-its-time neutral or positive judgement of Cameron’s work. Yet Woolf, astute as she was, may have been probing at the gendered dialogue that surrounded Cameron and her work by playing with the notion of ‘fair women’ and beauty itself.

Read more here.

3. The Life and Art of Takashi Murakami

Takashi Murakami, Limegreen – Time. signed and dated 08 on the overlap. Acrylic on canvas. 71 x 71 in. (180.3 x 180.3 cm.). Currently listed in Private Sales. Image: Sothebys

Although Takashi Murakami’s art typically appears happy and bright at first glance, the artist expertly wields cartoony symbols and fantastical imagery to make larger statements on topics such as technology, violence, and history.

Murakami was born in Tokyo on February 1, 1962. The artist eventually earned a BA, MFA, and Ph.D. from Tokyo University of the Arts, studying nihonga. The term literally translates to “Japanese painting” and emerged in a time of globalisation for Japan—the Meiji period (1868-1912). Though it was initially used to differentiate between Western and Japanese art, it is now more often considered a stylistic or material indicator.

Read more here.

4. The Women of Pre-Raphaelite Art

Fanny Cornforth is the model for The Blue Bower by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1865. Image: The Henry Bargber Trust, the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham.

Tumbling locks, a pale complexion, a soulful gaze in the distance, and a loose gown: these are but a few of the characteristics of the women portrayed in Pre-Raphaelite art, women who, starting in 1848, would portray Biblical heroines, goddesses, historical, and literary figures. The art and lives of the Pre-Raphaelites retain immense popular appeal, with aesthetics that are pleasing to the eyes, an utterly romantic spirit of their world and a penchant for the depiction of myths, legends, and historical events.

On the surface level, the women portrayed almost appear as an ornamental element, brought to the fore by the artistic genius of painters such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais, Edward Burne-Jones, and their peers. However, what is oftentimes overlooked in the mystique of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood is how much its advancement in the arts and in culture depended on the endeavours of women not only as models, but also as artists and creative partners.

Unlike most models featured in previous artistic movements, Pre-Raphaelite models transformed their own lives through active engagement in art. They became lasting celebrities in their own right, the de facto figureheads of a movement that owes much of its appeal to the beauty of the subjects that were portrayed.

Read more here.

5. Bridgerton Lead Designer Talks Season 2 Costumes

Although cast and crew remain tight-lipped about most details concerning the nearly-here second season of breakout Netflix-Shonda series Bridgerton, new lead costume designer Sophie Canale was still able to tell Art & Object a bit about what to expect and look for in this new round of garments. Mainly—embellishments, signature character colours, and some Indian-influenced designs for new characters.

As many likely know, season one of Bridgerton received a lot of praise and a lot of criticism for its lack of historical accuracy in all aspects of the show including its costuming. While this is not rare for a period show, the sheer popularity of the series (and its racy content) seemed to propel this debate over the merits of such inaccuracy to new heights.

Read more here.

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