Love is Enough – Andy Warhol and William Morris at Birmingham MAG

I was a little sceptical of this as I found it difficult to see the connection.  I really like Jeremy Deller, so had faith that he would deliver something special here.

I am in two minds about this exhibition.  Aesthetically, I can see the connections.  Deller said that he was looking at how politics, aestheticsm business models and iconography overlap and I quite agree.  Both men were astutely aware of how art connected with these key areas but where I had a problem was with the artwork itself.

Throughout the exhibition, the comparison art works placed Warhol next to artists linked to Morris, rather than with Morris directly.  The section headings were well thought out: Camelot, Hopes and Fears, Fears for Art, A Factory it Might Be, and Flower Power.  However, with the exception of Flower Power which put Morris’s wallpaper designs up against flower works by Warhol, the other sections used Rossetti and Burne Jones as the comparisons.

Having said that, it was wonderful to see Burne Jones’ Holy Grail Tapestries again and I so adore DGR that I will give anything just to see his work, so who am I to complain when I get what I want!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZ8FDQWeP64

The entrance to the exhibition had the cleverest pairing I have seen: Warhol’s Joan Collins and Gabriel’s La Donna Della Finestra.  If you just compare the gaze and head tilt, it is quite astounding.  But, apart from the fact that it is Morris’s wife as muse, what is the connection to Morris?

(c) DACS/ARS; Supplied by The Public Catalogue FoundationDante_Gabriel_Rossetti_-_La_Donna_Della_Finestra_(The_Lady_of_Pity)_-_Google_Art_Project

Having explored Warhol last year at Tate Liverpool, I wondered if I would see anything new in his works here.  I did appreciate the Camelot section as, although at first I thought the links a little too tenuous, on reflection, Warhol’s obsession with celebrity does resonate with the way the Pre Raphaelites obsessed over the Arthurian legends and the ‘celebrities’ within those stories.  The pieces linked to the Kennedys were worth seeing.

What did disappoint, was that William Morris was not just “an English textile designer, poet, novelist, translator, and socialist activist.” as detailed by Wikepedia, but he was an artist too, and it would have been lovely to see La Belle Iseult, and more of the stained glass that he designed with Burne Jones.

Overall, it was worth seeing the individual pieces, but I did struggle with the concept.  I am going to a talk that Jeremy Deller is giving and I would not be surprised to get the ‘penny dropping’ moment during that!

Oh, and this is my 50th post!

 

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