Friday 1 September 2023

Andy Warhol at the Fashion & Textile Museum, London


Andy Warhol - Textile with Acrobats, Clowns & Horses (detail)

Andy Warhol: The Textiles is currently on display at the Fashion & Textile Museum in London until 10 September 2023.  In the 1950s, before Warhol's career as a fine artist took off, he was a very successful commercial illustrator and graphic designer and designed many commercial textiles. 

Andy Warhol - Textile with Acrobats, Clowns & Horses
(blue-green, red-pink & yellow-lilac colourways)

The word that immediately came to mind whilst looking at Warhol's textiles was "charming".  The designs have a coherent style, are whimsical, colourful and haven't dated. The blotted, broken line outline of his designs was a signature trait.  The textile with Acrobats, Clowns and Horses is a border print with a sequence where the clown somersaults from horse to horse.

Andy Warhol - Happy Bug Day
Printed cotton beach costume - brown, orange & yellow colourway

Warhol's most successful commercial design, inspired by the 18th and 19th century mounted displays of insects, was Happy Bug Day for Fuller Fabrics.  It was also used for cards stationery and wrapping paper.  He produced similar designs concentrating entirely on butterflies in both muted (Happy Butterfly Day) and bolder colours (see below)...

Andy Warhol - Textile with Boldly Coloured Butterflies
Printed Silk Blouse

Many of Warhol's designs feature fruit, and lemons were a particular favourite...

Andy Warhol - Textile with Lemons
Bolero - Printed cotton

Being a stationery fiend, I particularly liked this design featuring pens, pencils and paintbrushes.  Here Warhol uses his characteristic blotted, broken line technique to feature the tools of his trade...

Andy Warhol - Textile with Pens, Pencils & Brushes

He used everyday items such as socks, boots, shoes, brushes and brooms, gardening themes, pocket watches, luggage and buttons in his designs...

Andy Warhol - Collage of Designs
Pocket Watches, Buttons, Gardening, Socks, Luggage, Brushes & Brooms, Boots & Shoes

In the early 1960s Warhol sold his last three known textile designs of ice cream cones, pretzels and candy apples to the Stehli Silks Corporation.  Those shown below were all made from the designs printed on polyester.

Andy Warhol - Ice Cream Cones, Pretzels, Candy Apples
Polyester Evening Dress, Polyester Culottes, Polyester Evening Dress

So if you want to be charmed, go take a look but remember this exhibition is closing on the 10 September 2023. I didn't know about this aspect of Warhol's work and it was great to see.  The Fashion and Textile Museum is in Bermondsey (south of the river - nearest station is London Bridge) and there are lots of cafes and restaurants nearby.  It's just near the White Cube Bermondsey if you fancy a look round there too.

The Fashion & Textile Museum has a resources room so if you fancy spending a bit of time making your own Andy Warhol style print, you can...

Andy Warhol Inspired Print

Do go if you get the chance!

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