Celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th Birthday

21 Apr 2016

In honour of Her Majesty the Queen’s 90th birthday tomorrow, we are looking at the varying ways in which some of our artists have depicted the Queen in their works. From Santiago Montoya’s jacquard tapestry on aluminium to several silkscreen paintings and screen prints by Andy Warhol, the Queen has inspired artists far and wide.

Andy Warhol Queen Elizabeth II Postcard 31.4 x 25.6 cm

Warhol created several silkscreen paintings and screenprints, each respectively entitled ‘Queen Elizabeth II’, included in the series ‘Reigning Queens’, which also portrayed Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, Queen Margaret II of Denmark, and Queen Ntombi Twala of Swaziland. This particular postcard was produced to coincide with the opening of the ‘Reigning Queens’ exhibition. It was a long held custom of the artist to create auxiliary pieces for promotional purposes, as Warhol stated, ‘I felt that if everyone couldn’t afford a painting the printed poster would be available.’  So too was the practice of gifting prints to his friends and associates, for Warhol considered art and business a synonymous venture and used limited editions of his prints for promotional purposes even as an emerging artist in the 1950s.Santiago Montoya

Santiago Montoya Queen III, 2015 Jacquard tapestry on aluminium 128 x 106.7 x 17.5 cm

In Queen III, Santiago Montoya enlarges the image of the British monarch Elizabeth II.  This image has been taken from a twenty pound note, while its colouration is taken from a five pound note for aesthetic effect. The image has been appropriated onto a traditional Jacquard tapestry, a medium which was historically popular amongst the Monarchy and other wealthy patrons of the arts. By amplifying Elizabeth II’s face from a banknote, Montoya opens a discourse regarding the power of portraiture, politics and power.

Santiago Montoya Queen and Flowers, 2015 Paper money mounted on stainless steel 44 x 44 x 10cm

‘Queen and Flowers’ forms part of a larger series where Montoya juxtaposes different currencies with the image of the Queen in a uniformed square grid. Here, Montoya frames the image of Queen Elizabeth II taken from a twenty pound note, against the background of yellow tuberoses from the Indonesian five Rupiah note. By displaying the British pound, a hard currency, Montoya develops Andy Warhol’s infamous quote about hanging money on the way.