The re-opening of the William Morris Gallery

After a year-long, £5 million renovation, the William Morris Gallery has finally re-opened. The gallery is housed in one of William Morris’ homes known as “Water House”. The house is located in Lloyd Park in Walthamstow in northeast London. The building which houses the gallery dates back to 1744, and was William Morris’ family home during his teenage years.

To celebrate their reopening, the William Morris Gallery will be hosting an exhibit of Turner Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry’s Walthamstow Tapestry. This colourful tapestry (which is huge – 3 x 15 metres), examines “man’s passage from birth to death ‘via the shops.’”

It’s a wild and fascinating work and definitely worth getting a closer look at! And definitely a good choice for the re-opening of the gallery (I’m sure Morris would appreciate both the medium of tapestry and the consumerism-questioning message behind it).

If you are lucky enough to be in London for the 2012 Olympic Games, this would be a great  opportunity to take a side trip to see the museum as well. For more information, visit the William Morris’ Gallery’s new website.


Andy Warhol: Manufactured

Starting May 28th, the Art Gallery of Alberta will be hosting a special exhibition of Andy Warhol’s work. Andy Warhol: Manufactured is an internationally touring exhibition of Warhol’s work, and the AGA is the only gallery in Canada that is offering the exhibition, which will include his early drawings and commercial illustrations, his better known works, and also many of the films he made.

Warhol was certainly larger than life, and his work as an artist is easily eclipsed by his persona and the celebrity world he inhabited – which is a bit of a shame, in my view, since he was very talented! But as an artist he certainly demonstrates that keen observation of a culture is often a far more powerful force than pointed social critique. And his work certainly has enjoyed enduring popularity. I notice that one of his self-portraits just set an auction record for the artist last Wednesday when it sold for a cool $38.4 million.

Pretty nifty for the seller’s estate, since the estimate was $20-30 million. Of course, I’m sure the publicity surrounding this piece didn’t hurt either – CNBC featured the self-portrait last month during it’s Power Lunch program (Christie’s had direct interest in the sale, hence all the extra publicity). I often wonder how differently art auctions would turn out if there was more publicity surrounding recent auctions of, say, Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s work.

Andy Warhol: Manufactured will run May 28 – August 21, 2011

Happy Easter! Current Exhibits Worth a Look

I hope everyone is enjoying spring holidays! April has been quite a month here in Edmonton. We had a lot of dreadful weather (it’s finally above freezing for a few days, but I’m not sure I should really get my hopes up just yet!). I always get a terrible case of cabin fever this time of year, but I think I’m recovering. I could certainly go for a trip to a beach somewhere, though!

For now, I will have to console myself by browsing the art events going on around the world right now. I find museums are a great way to beat the spring-is-not-so-springy-blues (that is, if you happen to live in a part of the world where it’s not 365 days of sunshine – and if you do, I am afraid to say that I hate you just a little right now).

If you are in rainy old England and need a chance to escape the endless Royal Wedding coverage, the Pallant House Gallery in Chichester (known as “Chi” to the locals, I’m told) is holding an exhibit entitled “House of Fairytales”, featuring works by a number of artists, including Fiona Banner, Peter Blake, Spartacus Chetwynd, Mat Collishaw, Dexter Dalwood, Simon English, Paula Rego, Bob & Roberta Smith, Kiki Smith, Gavin Turk, and Rachel Whiteread. There is also as a display of some of Gormenghast author Mervyn Peake’s most well-known illustrations and prints (House of Fairytales runs from now until June 17th, while the Mervyn Peake display will be on until July 19th). I wish I could see the Peake exhibit – his work has always fascinated me (and creeped me out just a little). Thank you to Philip Eberell for bringing these exhibits to my attention!

The Art Gallery of Alberta has two great looking exhibits that I haven’t had the chance to see yet. Walter J. Phillips: Water and Woods is running from now until June 5th, and it will focus on Phillips’ woodcuts and watercolors. His artwork has a distinctive Japanese quality that was very popular in the 1930s (you can see some examples of his work on the AGA website).

The AGA will also be showing Nature and Spirit: Emily Carr’s Coastal Landscapes. If you aren’t familiar with Carr, then you’re not Canadian…When I first arrived in Canada, I swear every other phrase that came off people’s lips was “Emily Carr”(well, that and the “Group of Seven,” a group of Canadian landscape artists with whom she’s associated). I was a little weirded out. Canadians are proud of their national icons in a way that sometimes baffles me, but in Carr’s case, I think they’re onto something. I really love her work, even though she’s so beloved in Canada that it feels embarrassing to admit to liking her!(I can’t really think of an equivalent that people of other nations could relate her to – perhaps she’s something like Collette is for French literature? Her legend really extends beyond that of any other Canadian artist, which is all the more impressive when one considers that she was a woman). The image below is Odds and Ends, which Carr painted in 1939.

image courtesy wikimedia commons.

The Poetry of Drawing: Pre-Raphaelite Designs, Studies and Watercolours

Those of you living in the UK (or visiting) are in for a real treat this month. From January 29, 2011 to May 15, 2011, The Birmingham Museum is hosting what promises to be “the largest survey of Pre-Raphaelite drawings and watercoulours ever staged.” The museum has assembled works Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery’s world-class collections, together with important pieces from public and private lenders, including some works by D.G. Rossetti, William Holman Hunt and Edward Burne-Jones that have never previously been exhibited. The exhibit, entitled The Poetry of Drawing, will place special emphasis on the important role that drawing played in the Pre-Raphaelite movement.

The Poetry of Drawing will include pieces from the most prominent members of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, including all the original members of the PRB, Elizabeth Siddal, Edward Burne-Jones, Frederick Sandys and Simeon Solomon. Later artists, such as Aubrey Beardsley, who were influenced by the Brotherhood are also included, as are the Arts and Crafts contributions of William Morris, William de Morgan and Florence Camm.

For those of you who are unable to attend, the exhibition’s curator has created an illustrated volume entitled Pre-Raphaelite Drawing. The book will be published by Thames and Hudson. I would love to see this exhibit in person, but if I don’t get the chance, I will definitely be looking into the catalogue!

For more information and ticket prices, please visit the Birmingham Museum’s exhibition website.

Image above is William Morris’ sketch for his Trellis wallpaper design.

Henri Matisse: A Celebration of Light and Line at the Art Gallery of Alberta

From now until February 13, 2011, the Art Gallery of Alberta will be featuring an exhibit of the works of Henri Matisse. The exhibit contains over 170 of Matisse’s works, with a special emphasis on his work in printmaking. The exhibit combines works from the collection of The Baltimore Museum of Art with others from Matisse as Printmaker: Works from the Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation, a traveling exhibition created by the American Federation of Arts and the Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation. Many of the pieces from the Baltimore Museum of Art are recent gifts to the museum, and this will be the first time that they have been available to the public.

I’m extremely excited to see this exhibit – I can’t wait to take my daughter! It’s been so interesting to see what art she responds to the most. Sculpture and colorful paintings definitely seem to thrill her the most so far (she was in love with the ballet dancers from the Degas exhibit we went to earlier this year – and she was just a few months old!).   Oh, and of course she loved the AGA’s “Art of Warner Bros.” exhibit! Matisse’s works is so colorful that I’m pretty confident it will catch her eye (now that she’s a little bigger, the challenge will be getting her close enough to see, but not too close!!).

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to put up any photos of Matisse’s work due to copyright restrictions (Matisse died in 1954 – so it has been a little less than 70 years since his death. As a result, there are some copyright issues since his works are not in the public domain). So, to see a few samples of works that will be included in the exhibit, visit the Art Gallery of Alberta’s website for the exhibit: Henri Matisse: A Celebration of Light and Line.