Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Got a little depressed last week so I took myself off to Birmingham for the afternoon. Obviously I went straight for the Art Gallery and Museum where I found, in the Gas Hall for the summer, Love is Enough, William Morris and Andy Warhol, curated by Jeremy Deller.

OK, the fathers of Arts and Crafts and Pop Art might not seem to have much in common, but then you start to think ...  They were both obsessed about printing, they both had ideas about art and factories, and they were both, in the broadest sense, radical.  Both transcended media. There the parallels pretty much end.  Morris was a posh socialist, Andy a poor Polish boy from Pittsburgh. Morris was immersed in a largely mythical medievalism in which the artisan was king.  Andy strove to push the boundaries as far they would go, turning art into process much of the time but also, to be fair, entranced by the idols of the period immediately before his heyday - Jackie Kennedy, Marilyn, the young Liz Taylor of the Forties and Fifties.

Anyway Deller has taken three or four parallels and set up rooms to illustrate them.  The rooms are all decorated with Morris wallpaper, which gives him something of a head start, but once you step back from all those flowers Andy starts to come on strong.  The huge red revolver painted after Valerie Solanas shot him, and the exquisite line drawings which I had never come across before.  Like Picasso, a single line, unadorned with shading or texture, entirely captures the subject.  But, best of all, the late self portrait ("Shadow") silkscreen print with diamond dust.  I had absolutely no idea.

I would have liked more variety and I would have liked a catalogue I could buy, but overall I came away very excited, my mood restored.