9a. Curating the Renaissance with Peta Motture

Curating the Renaissance : Seminar session with Peta Motture, Senior Curator of Sculpture, V&A

What springs to mind when someone tells you they are a curator in an art and design Museum?  Is there a difference between an academic art-historian and a curator?  If you were a curator, how do you think you would spend your time?Based on case studies of work undertaken at the Victoria and Albert Museum, including the Medieval & Renaissance Galleries and a forthcoming book on the Culture of Bronze, this session will explore the role of a curator in researching and interpreting objects within their broader cultural context for a wide range of audiences.

  •   READ:   Stokstad, Chapters 19, 20 and 22.  Renaissance, Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. 
  • Peta Motture,  Inspire, engage
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One thought on “9a. Curating the Renaissance with Peta Motture

  1. Going to museums, I prefer the aesthetic parts: the paintings, the sculptures, the painted vases, china, and jewelry. I prefer to see the things that are nice to look at.I was especially intrigued by Peeta Motture when she was speaking about how the captions of the objects. The words have to engage the observer and make them look at the object and appreciate it, not just for it’s functionality or insight into history but also for the beauty in these objects.
    There is always this question of artifacts being material culture or art:was the object functional or used for display? But the curator sometimes has to bridge these two areas. The object, even if it was a functional object such as a fireplace– used for heating and cooking and the sorts, must also be shown in a way that we can appreciate the craftsmanship and style of the object. In the other direction we must be able to see the functionality of a piece of art work. The relief of the Virgin Mary and child was a beautiful piece of artwork, but it also held some resonance in that it may have hung in a bedchamber of a pregnant woman. What a woman saw during pregnancy was supposed to affect her birth, what better image than the ideal mother and child relationship to affect a pregnant woman. Plus boys were considered as more desired than girls, so the image of a boy was supposedly influencing the gender of the baby.
    There is almost nothing that is fully art or fully functional. The V&A is an art and design museum and each functional piece has an artistic design and each art piece has a functionality. When we were talking of iconic and narrative art Daita said that during the renaissance and medieval time there were no pieces that really just represented life as it was, not in an idealized form. Motture responded that this was true, of the time period, but that later on, this changed. This change is where the functionality of art changes also. During the impressionist and post-impressionist movement, artists such as Manet begin to try to depict life as it is, life in it’s simplest form. These works take on a new connotation where art can be used as a document to “read” history. Art was trying to record history. This must be a new twist for curators.

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