William Morris

Linda Parry, Editor
Linda Parry, Editor ABRAMS $60 (384p) ISBN 978-0-8109-4282-0
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
Paperback - 144 pages - 978-0-85115-670-5
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The multifaceted achievement of English Victorian designer William Morris (1834-1896) is scrutinized in this ravishing catalogue of a centenary exhibition at London's Victoria and Albert Museum. Parry, a curator at the museum, opens with a useful biographical sketch. Next, Morris biographer Fiona MacCarthy explores how the Arts and Crafts pioneer's belief in visual harmony as a basic human function informed his work in embroidery, furniture, domestic decoration, stained glass, painting, wallpapers, engravings, illumination and calligraphy, tapestry, textiles--areas discussed in greater depth in subsequent essays by British and American design historians and curators. Other selections succinctly examine Morris's activities as writer of stories, poems and prose romances, socialist proselytizer, shrewd businessman, conservationist. The closing section presents three contrasting views of Morris: an overrated inspired amateur; an eclectic humanist, forerunner of postmodernism; a pioneer who ironically inspired both left-wing internationalists and ethnic nationalists seeking a vernacular. Featuring 394 color and 161 black-and-white illustrations, this album will thrill Morris devotees. BOMC selection. (Oct.)
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