Rarely-seen works by William Morris and Andy Warhol from public and private collections across the UK and the USA have been brought together by Turner-Prize winning artist Jeremy Deller who turns curator for the ‘Love is Enough’ exhibition at BM&G.
Six extremely rare and fragile historic tapestries illustrating the story of the search for the Holy Grail are being put on display in Birmingham for the first time in seven years.
The tapestries, acquired for Birmingham’s collection between 1907 and 1980, were designed by William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones and John Henry Dearle and are the only versions from the Holy Grail series in any public collection. The Summons, The Arming and Departure, The Failure of Sir Gawaine, The Ship, The Attainment and Verdure are the most complete surviving representation of the series, which is widely regarded as one of the outstanding achievements of the British Arts & Crafts movement.
Morris and Burne-Jones chose the story of the quest for the tapestry series, based on the ‘Le Morte d’Arthur’ (The Death of Arthur) by Thomas Malory, one of their favourite books. Burne-Jones had found a copy in a bookshop in New Street, Birmingham, in 1855. He couldn’t afford it at the time, so Morris bought it for him. The Holy Grail tapestry series was the culmination of Morris and Burne-Jones’s long standing friendship and collaboration, and of Morris’ desire to revive the art of tapestry weaving in England.
Works by Andy Warhol include drawings and screenprints from Tate, and an infamous print of a Campbell’s Soup can, on loan from Wolverhampton Art Gallery. Rare archival material from the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh will also feature – including a signed photograph of Shirley Temple posted to a 13-year-old Andy from the actress in 1941.
Unique to this exhibition will be Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s hugely popular unfinished portrait ‘La Donna Della Finestra’ (1881) thought to be based on a likeness of Jane Morris.
Love is Enough
Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery
Until 6 September
Open daily 10am-5pm, Friday 10.30am-5pm
Adult £7, Concession £6, Child (3-15 years) £3, Child (under 3) FREE, Family £17
Image credit: Quest for the Holy Grail Tapestries – Panel 1 – Knights of the Round Table Summoned to the Quest by the Strange Damsel By Sir Edward Burne-Jones, William Morris, John Henry Dearle.Wool, silk, mohair and camel hair weft on cotton warp, 1898 – 1899. Birmingham Museums Trust.