Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Love Is Enough

So this past week has been a busy one as I have relocated to Oxford for a new job! Everything has been very full on but I thought I should do a bit of exploring this weekend. I am very new to the city having only visited perhaps once before, so I have a lot of navigating and discovering to do!

This weekend I went to the Modern Art Oxford gallery. They have an exhibition on called Love is Enough which showcases the work of both William Morris and Andy Warhol. I've always been fascinated by both artists, although I've never thought of putting the two together. Seeing William Morris tapestries alongside Elizabeth Taylor in techni-colour pop art was a bit of a culture clash, but the reading material which accompanied the display explains a little of the reasoning behind them being brought together.

Both artists were printmakers with very organic ways of working, with Warhol experimenting with colour, and Morris looking to science, botany and wildlife for his inspiration. Morris and Warhol were also both influenced by a sense of fantasy and mythology. William Morris created several images inspired by Camelot and King Arthur, recreating the glamour and iconography in his stained glass windows and pictures of knights in shining armour. Andy Warhol's obsession with celebrity is also documented. His most famous series of prints, featuring stars such as Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe, started out from correspondence as a child, where he would ask for their picture, and keep them all in a scrapbook.

The display also shows a connection between print making and publication, which both artists shared. Warhol started Interview magazine (still going strong today) which injected a new sense of style and glamour into a fashion mag, with unscripted celebrity interviews  as well as his own prints and illustrations. Morris used print as part of his socialist ideals and a means of uniting and gathering together like-minded people.

What's certain is that both artists had an idea of democratising art, be it through Morris' desire to allow all households to own something either 'useful or beautiful', or through Warhol's popularisation of art prints as something more mass market. As the exhibition booklet summarises "they wrote, published and, in their embrace of commercial and fine art, had influence far beyond the art world".

I really enjoyed  this little venture out into the city but I'm still not sure whether Andy Warhol and William Morris are a match made in heaven or just a complete culture clash - let me know what you think!

Either way, I hope to continue exploring Oxford and documenting just a little of what the city has to offer.