The Crowther-Oblak Collection of VictorianArt, the core of the Awakening Beauty project, currently numbers around 180 works with extensive support material from the artists’ other cultural outputs (unpublished letters, volumes of poetry, novels, theoretical writing, and illustrated books). It is being added to continuously and comprises mainly material from the Victorian classical tradition, from artists influenced by John Ruskin, and works of historical genre.
Works acquired for the collection are selected by Paul Crowther and Mojca Oblak in consultation. Crowther performs historical and cultural analysis of them. Crowther has a special interest in works influenced by Ruskin, and in the enduring critical potential of his ideas (and the artists championed by him) in relation to contemporary ideologies of global consumerism and ‘enterprise culture’. Oblak’s artistic work is an exploration of a kind of living-alongside art as a means of overcoming standard spectatorship and gallery formats. She holds that the traditional media of art have now been taken to their limits – we are in an age (to modify Aristotelian terminology) of artelechy where art is, technically speaking, a fully realized concept. Significant innovations within the traditional media individually considered are no longer possible. The time has come, therefore, to reconfigure art practice.
The Awakening Beauty project, then, is not just a collection – it is a matrix for continuously developing critical interdisciplinary research in philosophy, art history, cultural history, and contemporary art practice.
Among over one hundred and fifty works of British artists in the exhibition, we can find those produced by e.g. members of the Preraphaelite Brotherhood and their immediate circle John E. Millais, Holman Hunt, James Collinson, Dante G. Rossetti, John Brett, Arthur Hughes, Ford Madox Brown and Thomas Woolner as well as their followers Edward Burne-Jones, Henry Holiday, William Morris, John Waterhouse. Well represented are John Ruskin and his landscape followers Alfred W. Hunt, John Inchbold, Albert Goodwin, George P. Boyce and William Davis, representatives of other landscape traditions, among them Edward Lear, Benjamin W. Leader, J. S. Raven, Maw Egley, William B. Scott, the paragons of the classical tradition Lord Leighton, Edward J. Poynter, Alma-Tadema, George F. Watts, Frederick Goodall, and others. The exhibition is focused on the theoretical and critical influence of John Ruskin in Victorian Britain in which the author of the present presentation, Crowther, extrapolates certain properties of a period style.
Curator of the exhibition
Tina Buh, Eva Ilec, Marina Čurin
Project was supported by
Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and
National Gallery of Slovenia in cooperation with
The Moore Institute, National University of Ireland, Gallway
24 September 2014–4 January 2015
National Gallery of Slovenia