Published: April 8, 2008
“Wedded Bliss, The Marriage of Art and Ceremony,” an exhibition on view at the Peabody Essex Museum April 26⁓eptember 14, explores the wedding as impetus for the creation of art in cultures around the world.
Approximately 130 objects from the United States, Asia, Europe, Africa and the Pacific are showcased for a unique look at the complex beliefs and emotions surrounding the matrimonial experience. Works spanning three centuries, from the Eighteenth Century to the present, reveal the diversity of creative response inspired by weddings as well as changing attitudes and customs over time.
The exhibition features objects in a wide range of media †including paintings, sculpture, photography, film, ceramics and clothing †by more than 50 major artists, designers and craftspeople. Works by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Winslow Homer, Benjamin West, William Hogarth, Cecily Brown, Claes Oldenburg and Jacob Lawrence are presented alongside an extraordinary array of objects created for wedding rituals.
These include historic and couture gowns, ceremonial items and rare jewelry †ranging from Tiffany & Co.’s one-of-a-kind creations to the diamond nuptial crown of Alexandra, the last Russian empress. Just as every couple has its story, each work in the exhibition reveals its artistic significance and unique history as a token of promise, an expression of love won or lost, a ceremonial object, a social statement or a memento of this important rite of passage.
Performing arts and forms of perishable aesthetic expression related to weddings, such as culinary and floral artistry, will be explored through programming related to the exhibition.
Organized thematically, the exhibition reflects the full spectrum of the matrimonial experience †from courtship, engagement and prenuptial arrangements to wedding rituals, ceremonies and anniversaries.
As part of the exhibition, museum visitors will be invited to submit images documenting their thoughts, emotions and experiences about their own weddings, a selection of which will be included in a multimedia gallery installation.
“Among the most rewarding aspects of this exhibition has been the undeniable emotional response of people to the creative potential and personal experiences of wedding,” said Paula Bradstreet Richter, curator of textiles and costumes. “The same impulses and feelings that brought these objects of great beauty into being are present in everyone.”
A fully illustrated, scholarly publication by Bradstreet Richter, with contributing essays by Tiziana and Gianni Baldizzone, Chrys Ingraham and Donald Clay Johnson, will accompany the exhibition. In addition, a full array of “Wedded Bliss”-related public programs will accompany the exhibition.
The Peabody Essex Museum is at East India Square. For information, 866-745-1876 or www.pem.org .
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