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"Baroque Sensibilities: Sherrie Wolf’ and the Influence of the Renaissance

Artistic Inspiration

The exhibition "Baroque Sensibilities: Sherrie Wolf" at the Long Beach Museum of Art feature the prominent Portland-based artist Sherrie Wolf.

Born in Portland and going on to study in both the UK and USA, Wolf studied the great master paintings and fell in love with the history of the classics. An artist and a printmaker, Wolf uses both the artist's brush and more modern technology to create her works.

Looking at the exhibition brings to light the current and forecasted trends across the globe as we step into history. The collection of 21 works explore the Baroque period, from the late 17th century through to the 18th century: a period that resulted in some of the most exquisite paintings in the history of art. The exhibition showcases both small and large-scale works, and two major scale self-portraits, which add a dimension of personalization to the show.

Wolf's works encompass the old-world, embellished and detailed aesthetic that is stretching across various mediums, popping up on catwalks, in literature (Shakespeare's would have celebrated his 450th birthday this year) and in television and films.

Many of the works are still life, with classical vases, flowers and objects used throughout. She says “Still life has always been my chosen genre for this, although my practice of placing arrangements in front of scenes from old master paintings has evolved more recently."

The use of colour and depth throughout her works in this celebration of classic art and design is reflected on the 2014 fall and winter runways. Design elements like lace, metallized textiles, laser cut outs and ruffles are also present. Deep maroons, plum, browns and reds are dominant features in the color palette, with highlights of pearl, pink and sky blue.

Classical influences are clear in her works in both their color palette and structure. They sit alongside a smattering of 20th century objects to bring the classic compositions into the modern age. Wolf says she embraces the “history of reinterpretation and artistic borrowing prevalent among artists. My images have evolved from a love of art history and a desire to present multiple levels of expression to my viewer."

Delving back into history for design inspiration, a blend of historical periods is clear. One thing is certain: it's all in the details. Decadence and luxury is back, not just in the colour palette but also in the textures: think velvets, heavy silks, yarn-dyed fabrics and brocades. You only have to turn on the television to see this trend come to life: the huge success of television shows like Game of Thrones or films like The Hobbit and the embellished, true-to-period Medieval costumes reflect this trend. Designers for brand Helmut Lang have admitted their collections are based on Game of Thrones.

It's clear in Wolf's work and the current design and color trends that Medieval and Renaissance influences are present and the hushed grandeur of history is celebrated. "Baroque Sensibilities: Sherrie Wolf" is now on at the Long Beach Museum of Art through June 15, 2014.

All images courtesy Sherrie Wolf and Long Beach Museum of Art.