Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Bedroom as Art

I'm always been intrigued by how the twentieth century brought about a public discussion of what constitutes art.

Marcel Duchamp's "ready-mades" pretty much established that art takes many everyday forms; his display of a urinal he dubbed "Fountain" forever changed the popular perception of art.

The VMFA has acquired an 1880s bedroom which might well fit into that expanded definition of art.

The elaborate Worsham-Rockefeller bedroom contains seventy objects, including a massive chandelier, a rug that repeats the pattern of the ceiling. a Turkish niche for seating and the repeated use of ebonized wood.

It is the bedroom of a long bygone era.

It is the kind of detail-filled room that would take some time to fully take in.

At today's lecture at the VMFA, the focus was on the remarkable woman whose rags to riches story began in RVA, namely Arabella Worsham.

Her slow rise after the Civil War from a fatherless child to the owner of the magnificent Italianate house on W. 54th Street in NYC and the accompanying high-profile relationships, would have been fascinating even if she had not taken on the creation of a house interior that was, without a doubt, a work of art.

The lecture explored how the VMFA came to receive the bedroom from the Museum of the City of New York.

Because Arabella was originally a Richmond girl, there was a compelling reason to move the bedroom here once the MOTCONY could no longer accommodate it.

Fortunately, when the negotiations began, VMFA's renovation was not so far along that they couldn't plan for inclusion of the bedroom.

When the VMFA reopens (finally!) in May, one of the new masterpieces on view will be the Worsham-Rockefeller bedroom.

Neither Duchamp nor I would question its merit as art.

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