Being as this blog is highly focused on beauty, chances are, those that are reading it are beauty addicts like me. So when I saw an advertisement for something called “The Cult of Beauty” while waiting for the bus in San Francisco, I was immediately intrigued. Turns out The Cult of Beauty is the latest art exhibit at the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco. Running through June 17, the display features the romantic, bohemian art of the Victorian avant-garde from 1860-1900.
The Legion of Honor itself is a stunning building, set atop a hill overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin to the north−talk about beauty. But the display of portraits, textiles, landscapes, furniture and other decorative arts by names such as James McNeill Whistler and Oscar Wilde transported me back to a more genteel era. The era of ladies wearing gloves at dinner, always covering their ankles and swooning at the slightest provocation. The exhibit is filled with portraits of old time beauties, lolling in lacey white dresses against backdrops of flowers and whimsically colored landscapes that inspire tears for no reason except the sheer melancholia of it all. The time period serves up a sumptuous and inspirational use of rich colors that will make you want to redecorate your own space.
The exhibition made me think about society’s standards of beauty through the ages. Where once voluptuous bustles were popular, now we wouldn’t be caught dead without our skinny jeans. But just because styles have changed doesn’t mean that we can’t appreciate the definitions of beauty in the past, and a thoughtful visit to The Cult of Beauty may just open your mind as well as broaden your vision of what makes something truly beautiful.
For more information on The Cult of Beauty, visit famsf.org.