“Pre-Raphaelite Artists Were Actually Very Modern”

“Visitors to the current exhibition Pre-Raphaelites: Drawings & Watercolours (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, closes 27 November) will encounter some surprisingly contemporary sides to these Victorian artists. Having affairs, taking drugs, chasing famous actresses, developing new fashion and spending long hours outdoing each other with the most outré interior design, these Victorians were like the denizens of today’s coolest districts.

“The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (PRB) were a group of British artists who worked from the 1850s to around 1900 who used different styles that resembled England’s pre-Renaissance (hence “before Raphael”) aesthetic. The throng of artists had varied interests but came together in a loose association as the PRB under the guiding influence of author, art critic and (extremely skilled) amateur artist John Ruskin (1819-1900).

“The works on paper in this Ashmolean’s exhibition are rarely shown due to the light sensitivity of the delicate pieces. The display includes art by all the most well-known of the PRB: Gabriel Dante Rossetti, John Everett Millais, Edward Burne-Jones, Ford Madox Brown, William Morris, John William Waterhouse, and William Holman Hunt. There are many pieces by less famous artists too, including women…”

Read the full review at whynow? here: https://whynow.co.uk/read/pre-raphaelites-modern-oxford-exhibition

Appraisal of Claes Oldenburg (1929-2022)

“Swedish-born American sculptor Claes Oldenburg (1929-2022) died in his home city of New York, on Monday, aged 93. He was one of the leading figures of the US counter-culture in the 1960s and early 1970s. Ironically, some his most distinctive achievements became a template for corporate art of the 2000s.

“Oldenburg studied art in at the Art Institute, Chicago before relocating to New York. At a time, the Abstract Expressionism of Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko dominated the galleries and art schools. Soon they would come to dominate the auction rooms. Once rebellious modernist abstraction would grace the walls of tycoons’ office walls of tycoons and socialites’ Long Island homes. Young artists in the late 1950s rebelled against what they saw as the commodification of art by staging free art performances (called “Happenings”). Oldenburg and his first wife participated in these.

“Oldenburg had been born in Stockholm and moved to the USA in the 1930s, where his father was a diplomat. He became an American citizen in the 1950s and is considered culturally American. Growing up in economic boom of World War II and the post-war period, the young artist was struck by the plethora of cheap food and consumer goods. He started to produce plaster sculptures of food, which he then painted. The results were like window-display samples. He sold these in an improvised gallery that he called The Shop.”

Read the full review on whynow? here: https://whynow.co.uk/read/claes-oldenburg-counter-culture-icon

“Wind turbines to ruin Dalí’s beautiful beach house view”

“Wind turbines have been proposed for the sea off Portlligat, the home of one of the world’s greatest modern artists, Salvador Dalí. For almost a century, art lovers have been captivated by the seascape views of Spanish Surrealist Dalí (1904-1989).

Starting as a youth in his childhood home of Cadaqués, Dalí was fascinated by the views of the Mediterranean Sea. Over the 1920s, as he grew to be a provocative modernist painter in Madrid, Dalí repeatedly made images of the sea as viewed from his home. Later, when estranged from his family, Dali moved across the headland to occupy a fisherman’s house in Portlligat (Port Lligat). It would be home for most of his life….”

Read the full article for free on whynow website here: https://whynow.co.uk/read/wind-turbines-set-for-dalis-haunting-view

“Sale of Ted Hughes’s Poem Reveals his Raw Grief”

Never-before-seen handwritten poems by the late poet reveal his mental duress after his second partner’s suicide, just six years after his first wife Sylvia Plath killed herself.


“Coming up for auction on Tuesday, 19 July is a powerful piece of literary history. Sotheby’s London will be selling a treasure trove of unique and rare materials related to Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. The cache includes poetry written by Hughes following the suicide of his lover Assia Wevill and the death of their daughter.

“In 1962, Hughes began an affair with Wevill in London. At the time, he was living in a home in rural Devonshire that he shared with his wife, poet Sylvia Plath. The infidelity contributed to the collapse of their marriage. Plath committed suicide in February 1963, leaving behind her two infant children. At the time, she was separated from Hughes and renting a flat in London…”

Read the full review on whynow? for free here: https://whynow.co.uk/read/sale-of-ted-hughess-poems-reveals-his-raw-grief

“Hockney’s California Love Life in his Early Sketches”

David Hockney, Love Life, Drawings 1963 to 1977 (Holburne Museum, Bath, ends 18 September 2022) collects drawings from the beginning of the stellar career of David Hockney (b. 1937). In the 1960s, Hockney was the ultimate art star of the British Pop Art movement. His shock of blonde hair and colourful-rim spectacles became a familiar sight in newspaper colour supplements and television interviews.

“This exhibition brings out the tender, private side of Hockney in 37 drawings. We follow him from Swinging London, to California, across France and to Egypt and Morocco. Hockney went straight from graduating from a fine-art course in the Royal College of Art (in 1962) to the international art world. He sold enough prints to pay for a year of hedonism and hard work in California. Hockney’s escalating prices and fame gave him the artistic and personal freedom he craved…”

Read the full review free in whynow here: https://whynow.co.uk/read/hockneys-california-love-life-in-his-early-sketches-1963-77

“Edvard Munch at the Courtauld”

“In a dramatic self-portrait, Edvard Munch (1863-1944) stares out at us, looking both grand and cautious. Self-Portrait in the Clinic (1909) was painted while the painter was in a clinic, as he was treated for a nervous breakdown. After years of working strain, public derision, disastrous affairs and heavy drinking, Munch had hallucinations and collapsed. He committed himself to a Danish clinic, where he was one of the first patients to receive electro-convulsive therapy.

The current exhibition Edvard Munch: Masterpieces from Bergen at the Courtauld Institute, London (27th May–5th September) shows aspects of the Norwegian artist’s turbulent life. The exhibition includes all Munch’s major genres. These paintings are loaned from a museum in Norway, all collected by Rasmus Meyer.

Meyer knew the artist personally and bought pictures directly from his studio. He selected the best paintings, ones that showcased Munch’s core themes and stages of his development. That provides an ideal selection for this small exhibition (only 20 paintings), which distils the essence of the Norwegian genius…”

To read the full review free visit whynow? website here: https://whynow.co.uk/read/edvard-munch-at-the-courtauld-review