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Raphael Paintings Now On View In A Giant Mirrored Funhouse

The Raphael Cartoons, commissioned by Pope Leo X in 1515, have hung in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum since 1865. This month, for the first time in their 500-year history, the cartoons’ cast of characters–including St. Paul, St. Peter, and Jesus Christ–will get to look at themselves in a funhouse mirror.

For the London Design Festival, Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, the industrial design masterminds behind the blinged-out London Olympic torch and the money-saving redesign of Virgin Atlantic’s meal tray, have transformed the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Raphael Gallery into a trippy installation.

In collaboration with BMW, they’ve created a large-scale kinetic sculpture, called “Double Space for BMW,” composed of two giant mirrored half-cylinders suspended in the center of the gallery. On one side of the structures, there’s a completely flat, sheer mirror; on the other, there’s a curved mirror. The structures turn, as if on rotisseries, in opposite directions, and the room below, where the Raphael Cartoons are on display, appears to warp and move in the reflection.

“Double Space for BMW” opens at the Victoria & Albert Museum today.

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