If You’re Heading to London

Joseph Cornell, Tilly Losch, c. 1935-38

This summer’s theme in these parts has clearly settled on travel. Whether extended weekends or weeks long summer idyls, inspiration is everywhere. For those who might be heading to London, there are several not-to-be-missed exhibits in town. Most appropriate perhaps is the Joseph Cornell show at the Royal Academy of Arts.

Joseph Cornell, Tilly Losch, c. 1935-38
Joseph Cornell, Tilly Losch, c. 1935-38

Entitled Wanderlust, it focuses on Cornell’s imaginary voyages expressed in his incredibly detailed and creative shadow boxes and other work. In collaboration with the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, the exhibit assembles over 80 of the artist’s amazing boxes, assemblages, collages and films.

Joseph Cornell, Naples, c. 1942
Joseph Cornell, Naples, c. 1942

Cornell was the ultimate armchair traveler. While he rarely left New York and in fact never spent a night away from home, he was a passionate collector and obsessed with travel. Often connecting past and present in his work, he elevated ordinary objects he found to art in his scenes that celebrated themes from “opera and European history to ornithology and astronomy.”

Joseph Cornell, Habitat Group for a Shooting Gallery, 1943
Joseph Cornell, Habitat Group for a Shooting Gallery, 1943

Another exhibit that celebrates travel is at the V&A. The photographs of British Captain Linnaeus Tripe are “some of the earliest and most striking views of the landscape and architecture of India and Burma.”

Linnaeus Tripe, Trichinopoly: Musjid of Nutter Owleah, from the Head of the Lane Leading to it
Linnaeus Tripe, Trichinopoly: Musjid of Nutter Owleah, from the Head of the Lane Leading to it
January or April 1858
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

From archaeological sites, to monuments and landscapes, Tripe chronicled these rarely seen cultures with detail and sensitivity. Through the then new medium of photography, he both documented and expressed artistically the exotic world around him.

Linnaeus Tripe at the V&A
Linnaeus Tripe
Amerapoora: Corner of Mygabhoodee-tee Kyoung
September 1-October 21, 1855

Organized by two state-side institutions (the National Gallery of Art and the Metropolitan Museum) in association with the Victoria and Albert, the exhibit is part of the V&A India Festival which, this fall, will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Museum’s Nehru Gallery with a variety of exhibits and events.

Linnaeus Tripe Rangoon: Near View of the Shwe Dagon Pagoda November 1855
Linnaeus Tripe
Rangoon: Near View of the Shwe Dagon Pagoda
November 1855

Lastly, at the Foundling Museum, is a wonderful exhibit melding past and present through the decorative art of plasterwork. Lines of Beauty explores the history of the medium, including William Wilton’s rococo Foundling Hospital Court Room, below.

Founding Hospital Court Room in London

The Court Room, featuring Samuel Wales, St Thomas' Hospital, 1748 © The Foundling Museum

In conjunction with the museum’s own interiors will be the work of contemporary architectural sculptor Geoffrey Preston. Responsible for the restoration of many historically significant properties, Preston will show work in stucco and cast plaster, with drawings, photographs and models. A new flower panel below.

New Flower panel by Geoffrey Preston

Preston’s work includes such distinguished projects as The National Trust’s Uppark House, below,

Geoffrey Preston plasterwork at  Uppark House

and Robert Adam’s Charlotte Square.

Geoffrey Preston Charlotte Square

Stop back tomorrow for a sneak peek at a special feature in House Beautiful’s Small Spaces issue.

7 thoughts on “If You’re Heading to London

  1. Stacy,

    You express yourself with intelligence and sophisticated flair.
    I love your unique finds…and have visited a few venues you have recommended.

    Thanks and keep up the good work!

  2. I’m heading to London in early September, then 3 weeks driving up to Scotland, then back to London the first week in October. So these museums are on my must see list. I always go to the V&A, but have not visited the others. I always love your travel suggestions!!

  3. That “sneak preview” of Uppark House is just…wonderful!! The original music composed by Film Music Composer Rachel Grave sends shivers through my soul. franki

  4. This post is well timed, Stacy; I am headed to London on Sunday to meet up with my girls and visit my sister. We’ll definitely seek these out. Hope you are having a wonderful summer.

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