Monday, 30 January 2012

William Morris wallpaper & textiles

William Morris by George Frederic Watts 1870

William Morris's name and reputation are indissolubly linked to wallpaper design, but there is a tendency to over-estimate the influence he had in this field, at least in his own lifetime. In fact, despite his much repeated belief in 'art for all', his wallpapers, like most of the products of Morris and Co., were hand-made and expensive, and consequently had a relatively limited take-up. His papers were slow to find a market beyond fellow artists, and were positively disliked by some influential figures, such as Oscar Wilde. However, he has had a long-lived effect on wallpaper design and consumption, creating designs which have enjoyed lasting appeal.

Morris's first wallpaper design was Trellis, a pattern suggested by the rose-trellis in the garden of his house in Bexleyheath, Kent.

Trellis wallpaper 1864

 Designed in 1862, it was not issued until 1864, a delay that was due to Morris's unsuccessful experiments with printing from zinc plates. The first pattern to be issued, in 1864, was Daisy, a simple design of naively drawn meadow flowers.

Daisy wallpaper 1864

The source was a wall-hanging illustrated in a 15th-century version of Froissart's Chronicles, but similar flower forms can be seen in late medieval 'mille-fleurs' tapestries and in early printed herbals. These two designs, and the next pattern Fruit (also known as Pomegranate), share a medieval character that links Morris's early work in the decorative arts with the Pre-Raphaelite painters, and with Ruskin.

Fruit wallpaper 1866

His sources were plants themselves, observed in his gardens or on country walks, and also images of plants in 16th-century woodcuts (he owned copies of several 16th- and 17th-century herbals, including Gerard's famous Herball), illuminated manuscripts, tapestries and other textiles incorporating floral imagery. Although he advised those designing wallpapers to 'accept their mechanical nature frankly, to avoid falling into the trap of trying to make your paper look as if it were painted by hand', he also encouraged intricacy and elaboration so that the repeat itself was disguised. 

Morris designed over 50 wallpapers, and his firm produced a further 49 by other designers. Despite his involvement with wallpapers and his decided views on their design and use, Morris always regarded wallpaper as a 'makeshift' decoration, a tolerable substitute for more luxurious wall coverings. Some of the old snobbery about wallpaper as an imitative material, a cheap option, still persisted, and Morris, as a wealthy man, preferred woven textile hangings for his own home. Helena Maria Sickert described the drawing room at Kelmscott House, Hammersmith, thus: 'beautiful blue tapestry hangings all around the big living room ... the atmosphere was deliciously homely'.

Though Morris himself made little use of wallpapers in his own domestic surroundings, a number of wealthy clients commissioned decorative schemes from Morris & Co. By the 1880s Morris papers were being recommended in many home decorating guides, including the affordable Art at Home series (1876-8). Pages of each were devoted to a discussion of wallpapers, with advice on how to select the best of the latest styles. Morris's papers were too expensive for most, but by the 1880s their growing appeal had been recognised by other designers and manufacturers who began to produce cheaper papers in the Morris style. By the late 1890s Morris wallpapers were commonly found in 'artistic' middle-class homes.

Morris designs seem to have satisfied a widespread desire for pattern in a way which the more formal and didactic designs of the reformers such as Jones and Pugin never did. The next generation of designers were conscious of working with Morris's legacy. For example, Charles Voysey, later described by Essex & Co. in advertisements as 'the Genius of Pattern', produced designs which show clear evidence of Morris's influence in the mastery of flat but complex patterns and in the preference for stylised organic forms and motifs from nature.

Acanthus wallpaper 1875

Bird and Pomegranate wallpaper 
late C19th

Blackthorn wallpaper 
late C19th

Borage ceiling paper 1888-9

Compton wallpaper 
late C19th

Corncockle furnishing fabric 1883

Cray furnishing fabric 1885

Daffodil wallpaper 
late C19th

Ispahan furnishing fabric 
late C19th

Pink and Rose wallpaper 
late C19th

The Strawberry Thief textile

Wandle wallpaper 1883-4

Wallpaper design 1896

Jasmine wallpaper 1872

Wey printed textile design c1883

Snakeshead printed textile design 1876

Peacock and Dragon fabric 1878

Woodpecker tapestry 1885

Artichoke embroidery 1890

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Neo Rauch - part 2

This is part 2 of a 2-part post on the works of contemporary German painter Neo Rauch. For biographical notes and more works see part 1.

All images © Neo Rauch / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn.

2004 Revolte (Revolt) 
oil on paper 200 x 281 cm

2004 Schmerz (Pain) 
oil on canvas 270 x 210 cm

2004 Waldsiedlung 
oil on paper 277 x 197 cm

2005 Der Pate (The Godfather) 
oil on canvas 271 x 150 cm

2005 Heimkehr (Homecoming) 
oil on canvas 210 x 300 cm

2005 Krypta (Crypt) 
oil on canvas 210 x 271 cm

2005 Loesung (Mortar) 
oil on canvas 300 x 210 cm

2005 Neujahr (New Year) 
oil on canvas 270 x 210 cm

2007 Der nächste Zug (The Nearest Puff) 
oil on canvas

2007 Die Flamme (The Flame) 
oil on canvas

2007 Die Fuge (The Nearest Joint) 
oil on canvas

2007 Goldgrube (Bonanza) 
oil on canvas

2007 Jagdzimmer (Hunting Room) 
oil on canvas

2007 Leporello 
oil on canvas 250 x 210 cm

2007 Vater (Father) 
oil on canvas

2007 Vorort (Suburb) 
oil on canvas

2008 Alte Verbindungen (Old Ties) 
oil on canvas 250 x 300 cm

2008 Das Gut (The Good) 
oil on canvas 280 x 210 cm

2008 Die Aufnahme (The Recording) 
oil on canvas 300 x 250 cm

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Neo Rauch - part 1

This is part 1 of a 2-part post on the works of contemporary German painter Neo Rauch.

Rauch, born in Leipzig in 1960, is a protagonist of the "New Leipzig School". On the one hand artists of the "New Leipzig School" are united by their place of study, the "Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst" (Academy of Visual Arts) in Leipzig, on the other hand by their teachers, among them Bernhard Heisig, Wolfgang Mattheuer, Werner Tübke or Arno Rink, which, in return, are members of the first and second "Leipzig School".

Neo Rauch's artistic career and the Leipzig Academy of Visual Arts are inseparably interwoven: This is where he studied painting from 1981 to 1986, until 1990 he was in the master class of Bernhard Heisig, from 1993 to 1998 he worked there as an assistant and was appointed professor in 2005. He held the post until 2009 and taught painting and graphic art. He is also an honorary professor of the Academy.

Neo Rauch's works are highly esteemed by the international art market. Additionally, they attract great numbers of visitors in large one-man shows, for instance at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2007, in 2010 in the twin exhibition "Begleiter" (Companions), which was shown simultaneously in the Museum of Visual Arts in Leipzig and the 'Pinakothek der Moderne' Munich, or in the Museum Frieder Burda in Baden-Baden in 2011. Works by Neo Rauch are in possession of renowned international museums and collections like the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and the Hamburger Kunsthalle.

All images © Neo Rauch / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn.

1996 Winter 
oil on paper 162 x 105cm

1998 Die Wahl (The Choice) 
oil on canvas 300 x 200cm

1998 Fang (Catch) 
oil on linen 200 x 300cm

1998 Front 
oil on canvas 120 x 90cm

1998 Vorrat (Stock) 
oil on canvas 250 x 200cm

1999 Fuller 
oil on paper 214 x 148cm

1999 Leider (Regrettably) 
oil on canvas 200 x 150cm

1999 Stoff (Material) 
oil on canvas250 x 200cm

1999 Strecke (Route) 
oil on canvas 122 x 90cm

1999 Takt (Stroke) 
oil on canvas 225 x 195cm

1999 Tal (Valley) 
oil on canvas 200 x 250cm

2002 Harmlos (Harmless) 
oil on canvas 250 x 180cm

2002 Hatz (Hunt) 
oil on linen 210 x 250cm

2002 Hausmeister (Caretaker) 
oil on canvas 250 x 200cm

2002 Kühlraum (Cold Store) 
oil on linen 210 x 300cm

2002 Quiz 
oil on canvas 250 x 210cm

2002 Schöpfer (Creator) 
oil on canvas 210 x 250cm

2003 Haus des Lehrers (The Teacher's Home) 
oil on canvas 250 x 200cm

2003 Scheune (Barn) 
oil on canvas 190 x 250cm

2004 Höhe (High) 
oil on canvas 210 x 270cm