Love Art After Dark
Art, booze and sophistication
Love Art After Dark at the Fitzwilliam Museum promised us many things, and thus we went with high expectations.
The evening started off well: fuelled by the free champers at the members’ reception and lulled by the live music of Lorelai and The King’s Men, guests were given free reign to roam the galleries.
Sipping my champagne whilst exploring the most reputed art gallery in Cambridge, and surrounded by students dressed in black tie, I was feeling the most sophisticated I’ve ever been.
I headed first to the Impressionist Gallery, where Rachel Sinfield delivered a short but absorbing talk on Monet’s Springtime and Poplars paintings, two artworks representative of the classic brushstroke style of the Impressionist era.
She pointed out the significance of the three ‘bands’ used in Springtime, noting the artist’s unique handling of shape, colour and light, and informed us of the importance of Poplars, which was painted in 1891 almost a century after the French Revolution, during which the poplar tree was a symbol of liberation. Fascinating. No, but really.
Time for some more drinks: this time, white wine and an attempt to find all the eerie mannequins scattered throughout the galleries as part of the museum’s Silent Partners exhibition. All whilst trying to look cultured.
In the Spanish and Flemish Art gallery upstairs, Director Tim Knox lectured us on the arresting sculpture Virgin of Sorrows by Pedro de Mena. The incredibly emotive artwork depicts the Virgin Mary weeping over the crucifixion of Christ.
It was fashioned during the Baroque period, in which the Catholic Church aggressively headed the production of religious art in order to counteract the growth of Calvinism following the Reformation. The high degree of realism in the piece is stunning: first formed from wood, then painted, the sculpture is at last embellished with glass and real eyelashes made from human hair, giving it an unnerving and lifelike quality.
Overall, the evening did not disappoint. Admittedly, the wine was a bit shit, but the museum was open after hours, informative talks on striking pieces of art were given by experts, and there was live music and alcohol – all for free.
I enjoyed the event and, judging by the vast amount of students attending, and the long queue outside the museum, so did everyone else.