Too Many Roads Lead to Tolkien

A frequent and colloquial artists’ and designers’ comment about art and design themselves could be something like “it’s all the same”. It usually refers to the stages within the work process, which might eventually lead to a somehow balanced composition be it decorative or functional (art or design), being very very similar. 

You may ask yourself what does that mean? Well, try comparing a movie poster to a song. It seems kind of strange but the truth is that they have a lot in common: A certain logic in the order of the elements that compose them, there is a beginning of the song and a beginning of the poster, a general balance between tension and harmony, an overall presence and an end to it; to quickly name a few factors. In order to tell a story designers and artists have to merge concepts, visual resources, techniques, color, chaos, order, language, local culture, influences…all of it into each and every project.

This event and confluence of elements is every time more present and “accepted” among the different fields, and everyday we see more interdisciplinary artists who make their work a lot richer by breaking boundaries from within and being a lot more experimental than purists. 

There has always been a referential influence in the roots of all genres: Camille Pissarro for the Impressionists, Robert Johnson for the blues, Chaplin for film making and, there is Tolkien for all of the multi and interdisciplinary artists. Actually, for everyone!

Have you ever asked yourself how would you be able to do everything you want to, but that you’ll have to cut some off because too many roads lead to nowhere?

If J.R.R. Tolkien ever influenced you; you probably wanted to: Be a writer (of all genres), a painter, an illustrator, a printer, a film maker, a politician, a cartographer, a warrior, a researcher, a language teacher…just all of it! The body of work Tolkien did is beyond the amount of production a very very productive human might be able to achieve. 

Andy Warhol used to say the most important thing is work, and he could apply this ethos to his more industrially produced series; but Tolkien? How was he capable of creating so much apart from being a teacher, having fought in the war and being a family man?

You can visit a unique exhibition of his sketches, drawings, maps, calligraphic work for the languages he invented and a lot more at the Morgan Library & Museum. You will find out about his social, political and life influences that led him to his unique work, which are actually quite far from a “fantasy”. 

Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth

Through May 12, 225 Madison Avenue, Manhattan; The show will travel to the Bibliothèque nationale de France in late 2019.

Enjoy it!