The Cult Of Beauty at The Legion Of Honor Museum

Bocca Baciata/Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Today was the first museum excursion of 2012. The ride on the 18 was as delightful as ever with views of bucolic beauty outside the bus windows. Starting at the cafe for lunch. I cancelled an appointment that I had mid-day so I could drink up the experience of being here without worrying about time constraints. I needed to be here today. Figuring I was going to ceramics tonight, I wore jeans with my turquoise velvet peacock patterned short kimono. I fit right in with the theme. I adore being in this environment; the buzz of the other guests enjoying the cafe and such a lovely view of trees out the window in the gracious courtyard. It’s a bit too chilly for me to sit outside to eat and write. The food here is surprisingly good; gluten-free available with surprisingly delicious rice bread. Not the usual “door stop” hard rice bread that I usually avoid. How refreshing. I want to do at least one sketch today, but we’ll see. There is so much to look at and I need to find a rhythm for being in the museum so that I can settle into a space for sketching. Never having done this before…around so many people…it may take some getting used to before I’m comfortable. It occurs to me that it might be a great venue to continue work on writing The Gods In The Mirror. Under a tree or such. Onward now to the show. The Cult of Beauty! Yum! I will drink in as much as I can with my eyes.

AubreyBeardsley-TheClimax

From my first erotic book of Aubrey Beardsley’s work, to the bedroom that I had in my 20s that was filled with large prints of William Waterhouse, I have been a lover of this work. Long before I knew it was called The Aesthetic Movement, I was a devotee of this “art for art’s sake”. Edward Burne Jones. Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Leighton. On and on…I didn’t realize ’til today that they were all part of the same artistic movement. I will come back over and over to see the show until I soak up this work and allow my work to be further informed by it! James McNeil Whistler…one of my lovers in my early 20s sent me the White Girl as a postcard and I had it on my wall for years. This work has so informed my life. Remembering being 18 years old, sitting in a tree straddling the small creek that runs through the Berkeley campus of UC, leafing through the page of my first art and erotica book. Aubrey Beardsley’s unexpurgated provocative and astonishing images sparked my libido and my imagination, both. I had never seen or even heard of images depicting the Queen of the Fairies having sex with a horse! Babies being born out of the back of someone’s calf and unheard of little men whose phalluses were twice the size of their bodies! Oh, my! We aren’t in Kansas anymore! I lament the loss of this book and wonder if I can find another copy on the Internet? eBay? William Waterhouse’s The Lady of Shallot and Hylas and The Nymphs kept company with Echoe and Narcissus in full wall sized prints on my bedroom walls in my early 20s. Circe Invidiosa has graced the bedroom of my current home for nearly twenty years.

The Girl In White/James McNeil Whistler

I can feel the beauty of the works in this show filling me with light. The glowing colors and sensuous drawings of women are perfect for the month celebrating women. I’ll have to figure out how to display the postcards that I bought. It’s also fascinating to see how some of the paintings Whistler created skate on the edge of abstraction. Actually, being able to see these works in person brought home the rich brush strokes and relaxed but bold use of color. The pairing of decorative backgrounds with portraits intrigued me. I found myself transfixed in front of paintings of stodgy men dressed in bourgeoisie suits as well as the radiant and luminous goddesses of the Aesthetic sensibility. The way the paintings were rendered just knocked me out! Time to up my game as an artist.