Tag Archives: V&A

More about That Incredible Wallpaper at the V&A

Here’s a bit more by and about Fallen Fruit, aka David Allen Burns and Austin Young, who created the fantastic wallpaper for the Victoria and Albert Museum’s “FOOD: Bigger than the Plate” exhibition, which runs through 20 October 2019. The artists drew their inspiration from images in the V&A’s massive collection of prints.

Detail from "Fruits from the Garden and the Field"

Detail from “Fruits from the Garden and the Field”

Here’s a video from the artists:

And here’s a PDF containing 321 pages about Fallen Fruits’ larger, long-range goals,  notes on the V&A show, and lots of amateur collages.


McQueen — Trailer

Alexander McQueen, four-time winner of the British Designer of the Year award, didn’t look like one of the most important and influential designers of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

But, like Bowie, like Warhol, he seemed to be living not in the present, but in some vastly more exciting, colourful, and, yes, dangerous future. Like them, his life and vision helped bring that future into being.

A new documentary, titled simply McQueen, went into limited release last week.

McQueen’s October 2009 “Plato’s Atlantis” presentation, featuring his Spring/Summer 2010 collection, showed him at his peak.

Just breathtaking. Other than that, I’ve got no words.

The song at the end of the show, btw, was the surprise début of “Bad Romance”, by McQueen’s friend, Lady Gaga.

Back in 2015, I visited the V&A’s “Savage Beauty” exhibition in London. Here are some of the clothes from that show:

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The Breathtaking Brilliance of David Bowie is at the Brooklyn Museum

David Bowie is at the Brooklyn Museum is the most exciting, dynamic, and fascinating show you’ll see this year.

Here are some of the things you can see or hear at the exhibition:

“Highlights of the exhibition include more than 60 custom-made performance costumes…85 handwritten lyric sheets, including those from “Fame” and “Fashion”… drawings, including a sketch for the Young Americans album cover; and oil paintings, including two of musician Iggy Pop, all by Bowie…more than 40 pioneering music videos, television clips, and filmed roles as well as a multimedia presentation of international tour footage…custom audio mix made up of snippets of Bowie’s songs…”

—from the exhibition’s web page


The show originated at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, in 2013. Since then, it has been on a tour that took it to 10 cities on five continents. David Bowie is has been seen by more people than any other show in the V&A’s 166-year history.

These reviews, from Vogue (“Go. Just go.”) and Rolling Stone (“Stunning”), describe parts of the show, and explain why it’s the Must See exhibition of 2018.

It runs through 15 July 2018. This is the last stop of the tour, so once it’s gone, it’s gone.


Even if you can’t get to the exhibition itself, you can buy the David Bowie cotton tote bag ($10) or the lavishly illustrated David Bowie is exhibition catalogue ($45 softcover, $55 hardcover). All available at the Brooklyn Museum’s shop.

(Photography wasn’t allowed, so all these pictures are from the museum’s website.)

“David Bowie is” Coming to the US!

This makes me very, very happy.

“David Bowie is”, an exhibition that originated at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum in 2013, will be installed at the Brooklyn Museum next year. It will be the last stop on a long journey.

After the original blockbuster show at the V&A, “David Bowie is” went on tour, visiting 10 cities on five continents. Along the way, it became the most popular exhibition in the museum’s 165-year history, attracting 1.8 million attendees so far.

I saw it in Toronto, at the Art Gallery of Ontario, on the first stop of the tour. You can read my rapturous reaction here, along with a description of some of the items on display. A quick summary: It was one of the most brilliantly staged and mounted museum exhibitions I’ve ever seen.

Here’s perhaps the highest compliment I can give to “David Bowie is”: It’s worthy of Bowie himself.

“David Bowie is” will be on display at the Brooklyn Museum from 2 March 2018 through 15 July 2018.

Symmetry Breakfasts — Breakfast as an Art Form

One morning back in 2013, Michael Zee made breakfast for himself and his boyfriend, Mark. When he plated the meal, he noticed it was symmetrical, and took a picture of it with his IPhone.

That was the first of several hundred symmetrical breakfasts.

Zee, who was teaching at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, started posting the pictures to his Instagram feed, where they went viral. As I write this, he’s published images of 1,297 breakfasts, and has acquired almost 700,000 followers.

He still gets up by five every morning, to prepare an often elaborate and always beautiful meal. His breakfasts are literally works of art.

(Me, I’m not a morning person—I often get less done in a whole day than some people do before breakfast. If I have any breakfast at all, it’s either a warmed croissant with lots of Irish butter, or cereal with cream (real creamnot skimmed milk, not 2% milk), and some combination of blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, golden raisins, and bananas, which some judgmental people have been known to describe as my “wake-up dessert.”)*

Last year Zee published a book called SymmetryBreakfast, which contains both gorgeous pictures of meals, and 100 of the recipes that produced them. You can see the full collection of Zee’s images on his Instagram feed at  Symmetrybreakfast.

All the photos here were found on the web.

*Ummmm, butter and cream. Gotta keep those cholesterol levels in the “Who wants to live forever?” territory.

Botticelli in Berlin

The Official Logo for the Show.   Warhol, of Course.

The Gemäldegalerie houses one of the world’s great collections of European paintings, despite suffering massive losses during and after WWII, when more than 400 large works were destroyed by a fire in a  bomb shelter, and hundreds of paintings were stolen by the members of the various victorious armies or confiscated by the Russian military and never returned.  It’s ironic that a war that was fought in part because of Germany’s belief in the superiority of its culture resulted in so many of the greatest real achievements of that culture being blasted into rubble or carted off to Russia.

Rich as the permanent collection is, with its masterpieces by Titian and Caravaggio, Raphael and Titian, Rubens and Rembrandt, the blockbuster exhibit at the Gemäldegalerie was an amazing show called Botticelli 2015 – 1445.

After his death in 1510, Sandro Botticelli was largely forgotten until his work was re-evaluated in the 19th Century.  Since then, his reputation has grown, and his  influence can be seen in the  works of countless artists.  The exhibition featured hundreds of pieces that echoed–sometimes obviously, other times not—the  art of Botticelli.

Here are some samples:

The Birth of Venus, Tomoko Nagao, 2014

The Birth of Venus, Tomoko Nagao, 2014

Birth of Venus, David LaChapelle, 2009

Birth of Venus, David LaChapelle, 2009

The Renaissance of Venus, Walter Crane, 1877

The Renaissance of Venus, Walter Crane, 1877

Botticelli Dress, Dolce & Gabbana

Botticelli Dress, Dolce & Gabbana, 2013

Venus, Yin Xin, 2008

Venus, Yin Xin, 2008

Warhol Again

Warhol Again

The show at the Gemäldegalerie runs through 24 January 2016.  It was only after I got home and reviewed the guide that I discovered that the exhibition is a collaboration between the Gemäldegalerie and the V&A.  A version of the show, retitled Botticelli Reimagined, will run at the V&A from 5 March 2016 through 3 July 2016.

The V&A Has a Rival — The German Historical Museum

I hadn’t planned to spend an entire day at the Deutsches Historisches Museum (German Historical Museum), but the permanent collection and the special exhibits were so interesting that I couldn’t leave. My long-time favourite museum is the Victoria and Albert, in London, but the Deutsches Historisches Museum gives it a run for the money.

The museum consists of two buildings, connected by a pleasant enclosed courtyard.  The older building, which houses the permanent exhibition, is the Zeughaus, the old arsenal, which dates back to the 17th Century.   In 1943, it was the site of a failed but undetected attempt by a suicide bomber to assassinate Hitler.

The permanent exhibition traces the history of the German people from the 5th Century to the end of the 20th Century.  It’s a beautifully staged exhibition, grouping paintings, clothing, tools, armour, musical instruments, religious items, and furniture chronologically.

The upper floor explores history through the end of the WWI, and the first floor covers the period from the Weimar Republic through the Nazi regime, the post-war division of Germany, and the 1990 reunification.

The Deutsches Historisches Museum is everything a history museum should be.  It tells its story in a comprehensive, linear, and coherent way.

I found a five-minute walk-through of the museum on YouTube.  It doesn’t even begin to capture the richness of the collection, and the videomaker has, for no apparent reason, added some weird sound effects, but it gives a small taste of  the exhibition.