I don’t very often go to exhibitions at art galleries, but when I saw that the Sainsbury Centre at UEA would be hosting Sense and Sensuality: Art Nouveau 1890-1914, I really didn’t want to miss it. As something of a vintage/Art Nouveau/Art Deco enthusiast, I wanted to see the original artworks in the flesh.
I will start with my (ever-so-slight) dismay that the exhibition wasn’t as exhaustive as I had hoped. Occupying a mezzanine floor of the gallery, space was limited and one of the cabinets contained information about the collectors, rather than the collection. That said, the items on show were beautiful and really emphasised that the movement was rather fragmented. The articles from all disciplines came together under a banner because of common elements, such as the time at which they were produced and influences from the natural world.
Posters such as Le Chat Noir by Théophile Alexandre Steinlen sat alongside Sarah Bernhardt prints; Aubrey Beardsley’s illustrations from Oscar Wilde’s Salome are placed next to illustrations by John Ruskin; a breathtaking sculpture called The Sleep sits near to a chair by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and an inkwell by François-Rupert Carabin, which appears to depict a lady having a cuddle with a giant aubergine (yes, I am fascinated by this item more than any of the others).
I would say that it’s a romp through the fin de siècle movement and a great introduction to the style. It took around 40 minutes to peruse the whole exhibition, reading most of the boards on the way. I would recommend taking a if you’re visiting the Sainsbury Centre.
The exhibition is open until 14 December 2014. Tickets cost £5/£4 conc.
Visit the website for more details www.scva.ac.uk.