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Love Is Enough: William Morris & Andy Warhol Art Exhibition - Birmingham Gas Hall

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Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
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From Pop Art To The Holy Grail In Exceptional Exhibition
Bringing artworks by William Morris and Andy Warhol together for one exhibition sounds like quite a misnomer,but it is when you are browsing this fascinating event that it all makes sense.

Love Is Enough Andy Warhol William Morris Art exhibition Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery. Photo: Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.
Love Is Enough is an enthralling art exhibition

The Love Is Enough exhibition at Gas Hall in Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery is breathtaking in its breadth of art.

It ranges from tapestries on the tales of Camelot by Morris to the pop art of JFK and Marilyn Monroe by Warhol. What you discover despite the century between them is that both were hugely politically-minded artists with an eye on representing the injustices of their time.

For those not affay with the two artists, William Morris was a leading textile designer in the Victorian period, who was also a social activist and poet. He became famous for his designs on wallpaper, glass and wool, along with tapestry work.

Meanwhile, Andy Warhol led the rise of pop art in America in the 1960s, but like Morris, used many textiles to express his creativity, from printmaking to photography and silk screens.

Love Is Enough 2
One of the pop art works by Andy Warhol on show in the Love Is Enough exhibition. Photo from Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.Credit line: 2014 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York and DACS, London.

He was also a controversial activist who highlighted gay rights and racial prejudice, and in this exhibition in Birmingham, Warhol's depiction of a civil rights photo stands proudly in Gas Hall as an example.

It's a well thought out exhibition that mixes photos and work by the two artists in each area of the room.

Turner Prize winning artist Jeremy Deller has curated Love is Enough and has made surprising connections between this unlikely pairing. This exhibition also explores the artists' common interests in mass production, popular culture and mythology.

It doesn't disappoint either as among the lesser known pieces are also the iconic works too, like the famous Campbell's soup and colourful pop art portraits of Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor, as well as John F Kennedy.

There's other special archival material that will keep you riveted. These include a signed photograph of Shirley Temple posted to a 13-year-old Andy in 1941, showing his obsession with Hollywood stars and how they influenced his artwork in his later life. He collected autographs from many actors and actresses, and these can be seen in one section of the room.

Love Is Enough 3
The Holy Grail tapestries by William Morris are breathtakingly detailed and the centrepiece of the exhibition. Photo from Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.

There are also personal letters that Andy Warhol wrote to his artist friends, such as British artist David Hockney.

The centrepiece of the exhibition however is Birmingham Museum's Holy Grail tapestries, which were produced by William Morris' firm Morris & Co. They are the only series in a UK public collection.

Displayed together for the first time since 2008, these huge artworks are amazingly detailed and emotive pieces of work that tell the story of the knights of the round table and their adventures.

I must admit, I had been unsure on how these two artists from very different generations and styles would fit together in one exhibition, but my misgivings were misplaced. I was left enthused and educated into the similarities between these two iconic artists and their seminal works of art.

Love Is Enough is a must-see art exhibition that is one of the most exciting and unusual to be produced in Birmingham in latter years. It rivals the best art exhibitions in London, so make sure you see it before closes on September 6.

Love Is Enough: William Morris and Andy Warhol
Gas Hall - Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
25 April - 6 September 2015
Open daily 10.00am - 5.00pm
except Fridays 10.30am - 5.00pm

Tickets cost 7 for Adults, 6 concessions, 3 children aged 3 - 15. Free for under-3s. Family ticket costs 17.
For further details see the Birmingham Museums website.
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Why? See work by two of the best artists in the world
When: Until September 6
Where: Gas Hall, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Cost: 7 Adults
Your Comment
Interesting juxtapositions like this blend of two very different artists often give you an opportunity to think more widely about an artist you like.
by Jenny Rossiter (score: 3|4212) 2421 days ago
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