The Bloomsbury Group

Art & Architecture
February 25, 2010 1:15 pm

One of Northwestern University’s hidden treasures is the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art. It’s located conveniently right on campus and best yet, it’s free for anyone who ambles in. Still, few students take advantage of the opportunity to see art from Mapplethorpe, Michelangelo and Motherwell on display, all of which happened in the past year.

We recently stopped in to see the current exhibit, A Room of Their Own: The Bloomsbury Artists in American Collections, which runs through March 15. The British modernist group included artists and writers (plus an economist) Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell, E. M. Forster, Roger FryDuncan Grant and John Maynard Keynes.


"Dancers" (1910-1911) by Duncan Grant, from the Tate Museum (


The Bloomsbury group was, in essence, a group of friends that became a self-proclaimed “family.” Lacking a common ideology or artistic style, friendship was the only glue that held them together. Bloomsbury was a terribly unchic part of London in the early 1900s, and they spent their time there experimenting with styles and surfaces that defied Impressionist and Post-Impressionist tradition. At the Charleston Farmhouse (their vacation home in East Sussex) and the Omega Workshops (in Bloomsbury), they learned from each other; Vanessa Bell was called a hopeless painter by critics before she met Roger Fry. Walking through the five rooms of the exhibit, you not only see each artist’s experiments with different artistic styles, but the works of those around them, whose influence is obvious.

What stuck with us the most was not the art, but the camaraderie. And as corny as it sounds, when reading about their collaborations, we couldn’t help but see some of ourselves and TKGO in the Bloomsbury artists and their movement. Good friends are all you need to start a project that changes the way the world is perceived.

(Unfortunately, museum rules prevented us from taking photos, but check out some images at the Block Museum official site. For more information on the Bloomsbury Group and images, take a look at this site.)

Tara and Karina for TKGO

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