Celebrating the Oregon College of Art and Craft community


Review of Victorian Radicals Exhibition at SAM / Deb Bouchette

Here's my take on the show at SAM.

Some disappointment.

But take that with a grain of salt: I'm not any scholar of the Pre-Raphaelites, which were founded mid-19th century.

I took the provided tour to learn more. In general, the small group of men in the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood (self-named), were rebelling against the standards of the English academy art forms, which they believed to be too grand-mannered. They wanted to include details of everyday life (nature, portraiture) while still maintaining the perfection of painting technique developed in the Renaissance.

To me, there was only a small handful of recognizable paintings in the show. I suppose that not being a scholar, I wanted to see what I'd already seen in textbooks to assure myself that I had a grasp on the works of the Pre-Raphaelites. Instead, there were many small works and sketches, some textile art, and (of course) a little William Morris wallpaper. So someone more erudite in the movement would be able to dig deeper, but I couldn't do that with the wall text and the tour alone. And the lovely poetry that is associated with the Pre-Raphaelites wasn't included at all that I remember.

But another thing that knocked me down is that the wonderful Taste restaurant in SAM has been reduced to a grab-and-go with coffee bar and a very few fresh items. What a loss! And there was nothing in the neighborhood to replace it, either.

I did re-visit some "old friends" in the modern area including a Gerhard Richter and three large Anselm Kiefers (among others). And, as usual, I wandered through the First Nations / Native Americans exhibit (which never fails to impress me), and the Australian Aboriginal contemporary exhibit (which entrances me). So the day was not a total loss.

Taking the train up & back in one day is a perfect way to see SAM, and if you reserve your coach seat a few weeks in advance, the round-trip train cost is rather reasonable. The museum is within walking distance of the train station, and you can avoid most of the rougher part of Pioneer Square by traversing 1st Ave. There are a couple of nice restaurants along S. King St.

- Deb

Dakotah Fitzhugh