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An exhibition opened yesterday in Oxford, UK, pairing William Morris (1834 – 1896) and Andy Warhol (1928 – 1987). They lived a century apart, but the curator, Jeremy Deller “argues … that they have more in common that we might suspect.”
Not me, bro. I wrote my university thesis on Morris’ wallpapers and fabrics and his idealistic politics were a major key in the formation of mine.
“Morris didn’t oppose machines: he thought they were good if they took away demeaning labour. The factory that the early English communist dreamed of was not so very far away from the Factory that Andy Warhol ran in midtown Manhattan.”
Morris and Warhol both established printmaking businesses and distributed their work through new forms of mass production. Both were natural collaborators who worked with the prominent artists of their time to develop working methods that did much to redefine the artist’s relationship to the studio and factory. Morris achieved this through his mastering of craft techniques and his rejection of industrial processes and Warhol through the activities of the Factory, which often parodied the industrial culture of the mid-late 20th century.
Both produced an enormous body of work that spanned every available medium and most importantly contributed to the collapse of boundaries between high and low culture.
And I’m all in favour of that.
“I do not want art for a few, any more than education for a few, or freedom for a few.”
– William Morris
Love is Enough: William Morris and Andy Warhol
Modern Art Oxford
6 December to 8 March 2015
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
May to August 2015.