The Art Institute of Chicago explores the legacy of iconic home design brand Morris & Co. with a stunningly stylish new exhibition.
“Blackthorn,” 1892, designed by John Henry Dearle, produced by Morris & Co., London, printed at Jeffrey & Co., London
Legendary furnishings and decorative arts manufacturer Morris & Co. may have closed its doors in 1940, but the effortless vision of sophistication it invokes lives on. The Art Institute of Chicago’s new Morris and Company: The Business of Beauty exhibition pays tribute to a history of eloquent artworks, including traditional cotton weaves and handwoven textiles. From elegantly muted shades to bold, full-bodied hues, these one-of-a-kind creations explore longevity, history and beauty while also proposing thoughtful design and profound philosophical techniques. The exhibit showcases approximately 40 unique works, each of which was intricately crafted by self-proclaimed “design reformers” including William Morris, members of his immediate family and artisan collaborators such as artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti and designer John Henry Dearle. The refined craftsmanship of these designs—many of which are devoted to the natural world and draw inspiration from both European and Middle Eastern historic fabric designs—inevitably came to be held in high regard for home interiors. With highlights including handwoven pictorial tapestries and stylish background designs (including “Pomona” and “Strawberry Thief,” among others), this collection elevates Morris’ overarching passion—to distinguish handcrafted over mass-produced goods and to bring the joy of art into everyday life. Through June 13, 111 S. Michigan Ave., artic.edu