Unexpectedly for an economist, Keynes was well known for his sharp wit, literary bent, and remarkably adventurous sex life, even by Bloomsbury standards. Other well known members or close associates included trailblazing novelist E. M Forster, famous for his sympathetic portrayals of characters from across the class and race divide.
Analytic philosophers G.
E Moore and Bertrand Russell also had a profound impact on the Bloomsbury artists - they especially appreciated Moore's emphasis on aesthetic enjoyment and friendship as the most essential of human values. Aldous Huxley, too, was deeply influenced by his many early encounters with the Bloomsberries at their patron Lady Ottoline Morrell's country house, Garsington Manor.
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These meetings are widely credited with helping the author of Brave New World develop his exceptionally honed literary mind and conversational skill, qualities that would make his later novels so exceptional. Over the years, the Bloomsbury Group became equally famous for their permissive attitudes to sex and relationships - especially by the conservative standards of their era - as they were for their art and literature. In the British national imagination particularly, they have become synonymous with sexual freedom and open relationships, with exhibitions about them often providing diagrams to enable viewers to make sense of their tangled love lives.
The American writer and friend of the group, Dorothy Parker, famously quipped that they " Clive Bell, for example, fell in love with Virginia Woolf soon after the birth of his and his wife Vanessa's first child. Vanessa herself had a relationship with Roger Fry, as well as a longstanding and open affair with the otherwise mostly homosexual Duncan Grant that resulted in a child, Angelica, who would eventually marry her father's long term lover, David Garnett.
The critic Lytton Strachey had numerous affairs with men while in his long relationship with Dora Carrington, who herself married one of his lovers, reportedly to keep Strachey close to her. The Friday Club's primary focus - spearheaded by Clive Bell - was to provide exhibiting opportunities for its participating artists at small London galleries such as the Alpine Club and the Bailey Gallery. This was in addition to coordinated lectures and discussions about art and developments in the European art world and beyond. The roster of attendees between - reads like a Who's Who of the British avant garde of the time.
From , the Bloomsberries and many of their associates shifted from the Friday Club to a new exhibiting society founded by Roger Fry, the Grafton Group.
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This club focused on UK artists working in the Post-Impressionist style - though they also showed American Cubist Max Weber and Russian pioneer of abstraction Wassily Kandinsky as part of their extensive program. In fact, he was the first to coin the term 'Post-Impressionism' to describe what he saw as this new and vital artistic style that prized form over content. While Fry was convinced that bringing these or so works to a UK audience would breathe fresh life into British artistic and cultural life, the country's public and critics had other ideas.
The show was almost universally panned, with words such as "anarchy", "putrescence", "sickness of the soul" and "pornography" among the accusatory terms used to describe it. It ruined Fry's reputation as a cultural force among his contemporaries, but ultimately fixed his place in history - Post-Impressionism would prove to be one of the 20 th century's most pivotal movements, emerging as a vital influence on Cubism, Art Nouveau , and the German Expressionists. A second Post-Impressionist exhibition closely followed in Although the British artists in Fry's show were ultimately less esteemed than their European counterparts, the exhibition linked them to each other and cemented the Bloomsbury artists' especially Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant's place in the artistic canon.
While the Bloomsbury artists all regularly vacationed together, to France, Italy, and Greece, they routinely congregated at the home of Vanessa Bell, the group's longstanding artistic linchpin.
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She and her lover Duncan Grant and occasionally Clive Bell would spend extended periods of time at the property, which they filled with rich decorations on doors, walls, fireplaces, and furniture. The house was converted into a Bloomsbury Museum in the s and remains a vivid, living testament to the Bloomsberries' extraordinary visual abilities and entwined histories. The studio where Vanessa and Duncan for years painted side by side, for example, is faithfully reconstructed. The Bloomsbury artists had an undeniable tendency to intense snobbery and cultural elitism, qualities for which they've been roundly derided.
Despite their stated desire to break free of the uptight conventions of Victorian England, the group steadfastly held onto incredibly traditional notions of the upper classes vs the uncivilized masses.
Clive Bell, for example, wrote a book called Civilisation in , in which he expressed disdain for "the barbarian" in his "suburban slum", hoping that such people would take note of the "civilizing elite" and their superior cultural pleasures, rather than continuing to involve himself in such abhorrent activities as "football and cinema. Bell also completely discounted the relevance of ordinary citizens' emotional responses to artworks. He unapologetically stated that genuine art was not concerned with "what the grocer thinks he sees" but was designed to be appreciated only by "educated persons of extraordinary sensibility.
Unsurprisingly for a group that was so forcefully driven by such strong personalities who lived, worked, and loved so closely for so long, the Bloomsbury artists produced a large number of portraits and self-portraits throughout their artistic careers.
Comparative Literature Studies
Their favorite subjects were each other, their relatives, and their intellectual associates, especially the Bloomsbury writers - most of the well known painted portraits of Virginia Woolf, for example, were produced by either Vanessa Bell or Duncan Grant throughout their earlier conservative, mid Post-Impressionist and later Naturalist phases.
Duncan Grant, meanwhile, painted unabashedly erotic young male nudes, which are now considered fundamental works of Queer art, as well as secretly making many erotic photographs of himself and his lovers of both genders. Grant reportedly realized Bell was in love with him when he caught her staring at him in his shaving mirror - a scene which she later immortalized on canvas. The Bloomsbury Group were among the first British artists to engage with pure abstraction.
Core Bloomsbury artists Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, and Roger Fry were especially experimental between about - , pioneering techniques such as collage, as well as groundbreaking ideas around color and form that were heavily inspired by the Post Impressionists they so admired.
Bell's abstract works from this period, such as her Abstract Painting , in which she boldly translated everyday objects into sophisticated abstract forms, are now considered particularly important. The impact of these experiments on the direction of British art as a whole was enormous too, directly inspiring artists such as Paul Nash and Wyndham Lewis, who would go on to become highly significant 20 th -century artistic figures. Founded by Virginia and Leonard Woolf in , the Hogarth Press gave rise to some of the most famous collaborations between Bloomsbury writers and artists.
The Press's first project was a book of stories written by Virginia and Leonard and illustrated by Dora Carrington, printed on a simple hand press on the Woolf's kitchen table. By the s, the endeavor had moved to larger premises on Tavistock Square in Bloomsbury, and was publishing works by other key writers of the age, including the first translations of Russian greats Chekhov, Tolstoy, and Dostoevsky; the first edition of The Wasteland by T S Eliot and works by Sigmund Freud, in addition to many important novels by Virginia Woolf herself.
Vanessa Bell designed distinctive and strikingly unconventional covers and book jackets for the majority of the press's literary output. She also brought in artists such as Graham Sutherland and William Nicholson, and these book designs combined with the groundbreaking literature they were illustrating to lend a bold, unmistakably modernist feel to the Hogarth Press's seminal publications.
Established by Roger Fry in , with Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant as co-directors, the Omega Workshops represented a radical effort to blur the boundaries between avant garde especially Post-Impressionist art and design. Unlike the overlapping Arts and Crafts Movement , which was driven by a strident political and social ethos, Fry was simply concerned with erasing what he saw as the false split between art and the decorative arts. He also wanted to help his artist friends make a decent living by putting their artistic talents to broader use.
Despite its long-term impact, the Omega Workshops lasted only six years. Fry was forced to cease operations in , due to a combination of dwindling orders, inefficient techniques, and expensive materials. Internal arguments also played a large role in the enterprise's downfall. In , four Omega artists - including future Vorticists Wyndham Lewis and Frederick Etchells - quit the workshops after a dramatic and very public falling out over Omega's contribution to London's Ideal Home Exhibition.
They released a slanderous letter to patrons and shareholders, accusing Fry of nefarious dealings and mocking Omega's ideals and products. Having ploughed huge amounts of his own money into the workshops, Fry was particularly bitter at its enforced closure, writing to a friend at the time: "I can't waste more money on a country that regards the attempt to create as a kind of Bolshevism.
Unsurprisingly for a group that was so inspired by the regular exchange of artistic ideas through conversation, the Bloomsberries included important art critics, theorists, and art historians as well as novelists and artists. I am no longer an artist interested and curious, I am a messenger who will bring back word from men who are fighting to those who want the war to go on for ever. I noticed on the parapet in front of me where I stood shivering with cold and wet and not a little fear — a very small fly seated stupidly tranquil on a clod of earth.
It seemed such a tiny atom and yet There are less aesthetic scenes which do not bear describing. The foreground of the story, however, is the relationship between John Nash and Carrington. They meet in He falls in love, he wants to have her.
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He amuses her; but she does not want to have him. Two bodies which no longer exist never embraced, and you are left with the gnawingly melancholy residue of the resulting substitute. Bloomsbury in France , by contrast, presents the imagination with a glut.
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In Auxerre, we are told, the Woolfs had hot chocolate in a tea-shop, before buying a looking-glass. That seems like mean-heartedness for the sake of it. Or is it that you wish that they could have had all that fun after going through the trenches with the Nashes, the fat following the lean in the same body of experience? That might be more dramatically satisfying. And yes, it implies a restlessness with the way these letter-writers represent things pictorially. Either way, by lean or by fat, by the gaunt, pared-back lines the Nashes use for English landscape or by the fulsome fruitiness that France seems to bring out in the oils of Grant and Bell, a passion for the motif seems to be put into quotes, made into a mannerism, the sensibility rather than the specificity of the object foregrounded.
With the elder Nash, at any rate, the ineffabilities of Symbolism in would resurface as the ineffabilities of Surrealism in , via a magnificent interlude of war painting whose importance he himself downplayed. It only works given the rule that we know the object in question very well indeed. After an ineffectual foray c. And finally, this is not a game you have to play in order to paint. You do have the option of looking things in the eye and naming them.
In corners of the overstretched Tate display — in a room of portraits where the French Bloomsbury associate Simon Bussy got a look-in; and elsewhere, intermittently, in the work of the possibly fey, possibly slippery, occasionally awesome Carrington; and yet further afield, if you bring to mind Stanley Spencer at his best — the painter is Adam: he looks at things and tells you what they are.
Add to those instances the swan-songs of Fry, Grant and Bell.
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And finally, after the passage of so much of her habitual and dignified reticence, so much of her cautious looking through doorways and windows, I can point to her own portrait, c. Book Description Oxford University Press. Seller Inventory NEW Ships with Tracking Number! Buy with confidence, excellent customer service!. Seller Inventory n. Items related to Bloomsbury and France: Art and Friends. Bloomsbury and France: Art and Friends. Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc , This specific ISBN edition is currently not available.
View all copies of this ISBN edition:. Synopsis About this title This volume presents a literary and visual overview of the interchange between France and England as experienced by members of the Bloomsbury group of writers and artists, including Virginia and Leonard Woolf, Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, Clive Bell, Roger Fry, Lytton Strachey, and Dora Carrington during the years , particularly their travels and sojourns in France which shaped much of their thinking, their painting, and to some extent their writing.
Review : "My lifelong devotion to Bloomsbury has been to Bloomsbury in England.
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