Art Inspired by the Arts

By Valentina Kohli

The renaissance polymath Leonardo da Vinci once quoted, “painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.” Today, art is created easily mixing different mediums, unlike in da Vinci’s time when the different disciplines of art did not exist in unison. Whether an artwork is influenced by the performing arts, or literature or music, or even a piece of film its significance does not shift. Multi-disciplined art harmoniously illustrates how art across the board can bring another facet, another story, another angle to our world.

From novels to poetry, from music via photography, different art disciplines have inspired The Arts. As well they have woven an invisible web of homogeneity and expressiveness that have entwined themselves into our lifestyles today.

We are lucky to live in a city that celebrates and embraces this web of artistic talent throughout the ages. London is home to various world-class art museums showcasing vast collections of art. The art scene in London honours multi-disciplined art in many of its exhibitions and collections. We have centuries of art to look back at, be inspired by and appreciate. This web of history shows the eloquence and expressiveness of the arts.

At the heart of the City of London sits an extremely old building you may well have passed but never really considered, the Guildhall Art Gallery. You many not know that the building has been used as a town hall for several hundred years, and is still the ceremonial and administrative centre of the City of London and its Corporation. Because the city area of London has its own ‘managing company’ and rules.

Also now, Guildhall displays works of art dating some from as early as 1670 all the way to the present day, illustrating the history of our beloved London.

Its newest exhibition explores the relationship between the visual arts with other disciplines of art, like Romantic literature and poetry. The exhibition, titled Inspired: Art inspired by theatre, literature, and music embraces Leonardo’s statement that art can be anything, but the ultimate goal when creating it is stimulating emotion and weaving a minutiae narrative. 

The exhibition delves deep into how Romantic novels and poetry in the 19th century influenced Victorian artists, reflecting especially on some of Shakespeare’s famed plays. For instance, Thomas Lawrence’s (1769-1830) painting John Phillip Kemble as Coriolanus, portrays Kemble, a prolific actor posing as Coriolanus from Shakespeare’s tragedy

John Philip Kemble as Coriolanus in Corionalus by Shakespeare (c.1798), Sir Thomas Lawrence.

Influenced by symbolic minutiae stories from contemporary poetry and literature are the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. A group of artists who gave credence that art should resemble the real world as much as possible.

Namely, William Holman Hunt’s (1827-1910) painting Study for the Eve of Saint Agnes (1847-1848) calls upon John Keats’ famed poem The Eve of St. Agnes illustrating the story of two forbidden lovers, Madeline and Porphyro weaved through the vivid paint colours and great detail in its composition.

The Eve of St Agnes (1848), William Holman Hunt.

In the West End neighbourhood of London, is the Photographers’ Gallery. The first public gallery devoted purely to the art of photography, is soon hosting its newest exhibition, For the Record: Photography & the Art of the Album Cover. It commemorates and weaves together the central role photography and art and design has played in portraying the identity of musical artists in album covers aka ‘object d’art.’ This is where photography and music meet, joining together the musical rhythm with the visual rhythm.

Vinyl: Grace Jones, Island Life, Island Records – 207 472, France, 1985. Photography: Jean-Paul Goude ; Design: Greg Porto.

For the Record entwines over 200 album covers, exhibited through a series of thematic led chapters featuring work by photographers, Robert Frank for The Rolling Stones, Herb Ritts for Madonna and Jean Baptiste Mondino for Prince. Also featured are other photographic imagery by instantly discernible creatives like Cindy Sherman, Andy Warhol, Elliot Erwitt and Nan Goldin. 

Across the world is the The Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale. Located in the JAX district of Saudi Arabia, the gallery is opening its doors to showcase global contemporary art to its local audience. In an exhibition titled Feeling the Stones

Tavares Strachan is one of 63 other artists participating in the exhibition with his installation Eighteen Ninety and Distant Relatives. Strachan achieved a breakthrough in the art world last year. Through weaving narratives of overlooked historical pioneers and placing them in their respective historical space. Strachan illuminates the web of art inspired by the artistic and honourable deeds of people of our past. 

The many different disciplines of art have created its own sphere of rhythm, taking us on a voyage, either literal or figuratively. From using sound and colour for special effects and illusion, to evoking compelling emotions and weaving unforgettable stories. Inspired and For the Record are two must see exhibitions in London, while in Saudi Arabia, its art biennale is worth reading about and even visiting. They guarantee to take you on a journey of the arts and its influences, leaving you inspired. 

If you enjoyed reading Art Inspired by the Arts, why not read Art-i-Facts? 

.Cent magazine London Be Inspired; Get Involved