Works by two world-famous artists will go on display in Birmingham next year.
A selection of rarely seen artworks by Andy Warhol and William Morris, who both pioneered a style of art that helped define the centuries in which they lived, will be coming to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery between April and June 2015.
‘Love is Enough’ will bring together works from public and private collections across the UK and USA to show in Birmingham after exhibiting at Modern Art Oxford in December.
The exhibition is another major coup for public art in Birmingham, coming after the Barber Institute of Fine Arts secured the loan of a Picasso painting – the first time a major painting by the Spanish artist has been in the city for more than 50 years – which is currently on display at the Barber’s University of Birmingham gallery.
American artist Andy Warhol was a leading figure in the pop art movement, working from his New York studio, The Factory.
Warhol’s most famous artworks are based around mass commercialism and advertising of the 1960s, featuring brands such as Campbell’s Soup and Coca-Cola.
His screenprints of the most high-profile celebrity names of the day, such as Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor, are now world famous. Warhol also coined the phrase ‘famous for 15 minutes’.
William Morris was a textile producer and writer associated with the Arts & Crafts movement which rejected the industrial processes of Victorian England.
Born in Essex in 1834, Morris has strong connections to Birmingham through his friendship with celebrated city-born artist Edward Burne-Jones, a leading figure in the Pre-Raphaelite movement.
The exhibition will include the rarely seen Holy Grail tapestries completed by Morris in 1896, a selection of Warhol’s silkscreens and archival material from the Warhol Museum in New York, plus a signed photograph of Shirley Temple posted to Warhol from the actress in 1941, when he was just 13.
The shows are being described as a ‘ground-breaking opportunity for audiences to engage with artists whose work is separated by a century but inextricably linked by their mutual fascination with popular culture, the mass production’, by Arts Council England, which is supporting the exhibition through its Exceptional Award Programme.
The scheme makes donations of more than £50,000 to fund projects that help deliver Arts Council England’s vision of ‘great art and culture for everyone’.
Love is Enough is curated by Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller, who met Warhol in New York in 1986.
Mr Deller said: “For me, these two figures have so much in common, not least their tendency to be contradictory.
“Morris railed against capitalism and yet he established a ship in central London bearing his family name, and Warhol’s trademark blankness, I think, belies a deeply political artist.”
Hedley Swain, area director, south east, Arts Council England, said: “Love is Enough explores the similarities between these two renowned artists, each of whom made an indelible mark on the cultural landscape of their era.
“This exhibition will undoubtedly appeal to a broad national audience while ensuring that communities in Oxford and Birmingham have access to great art right on their doorstep.”
Andy Horn, exhibitions manager at Birmingham Museums, said: “We are delighted to have this extraordinary exhibition on display at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.
“Both Warhol and Morris were incredibly influential artists of their time, and this exhibition will give visitors a fascinating insight into the similarities in their artistic approach and their commitment to creating art that was popular and accessible.
“The exhibition will be enable us to bring out some of our rarely seen designs and textiles from our Morris collection, including our Holy Grail tapestries which were manufactured by Morris and Co and are on show only every five years.”