The Art of Fashion

Joanne Artman Gallery
Apr 23, 2017 6:51PM

Alexander McQueen (British, 1969–2010). Dress, autumn/winter 2010–11. Courtesy of Alexander McQueen. Photograph © Sølve Sundsbø / Art + Commerce

Art has had a flourishing and long-standing relationship with haute couture. The two play off each other, inspire innovations, and sometimes draw the line so thin, they become hard to distinguish between. It’s impossible to talk about fashion and art without citing the extraordinary creations of Alexander McQueen, as well as the seemingly never ending stream of high-profile collaborations between contemporary artists and high-end fashion brands.  McQueen has long included art historical references in his work, including nods at the Victorian Era, the mathematical principles in the works of Escher as well as Hieronymous Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights. Similarly, artists have long used the cultural symbology of certain pieces of clothing and fashion as a form of allusion or identity.

Louise Elisabeth Vigee le Brun, Marie-Antoinette dit « à la Rose », Oil on Canvas, 1783. Image courtesy of WikiCommons.

As an example of this exchange, portraits of Marie Antoinette frequently depicted her wearing blue, a color with a rich history. Ultramarine was one of the finest and most expensive blues employed by Renaissance painters, and was most often used for the robes of the Virgin Mary.  Here, Marie Antoinette’s dress evokes both innocence as well as femininity through the utilization of the subdued color.

Jane Maxwell
Girl Interrupted Blue, 2015
Joanne Artman Gallery
Pedro Bonnin
To the Moon and Back II
Joanne Artman Gallery

In a similar scope, fashion styles inherently capture the essence of the cultural moment they were born in, and come to represent the cultural ethos of their time. In significant cases, they enter into our cultural lexicon. Who could forget Holly Golightly’s Little Black Dress? Created by Coco Chanel and Jean Patou in the 1920s the “LBD” has been around for almost a century, though the version most often cited as the iconic gold standard of the is the one worn by Audrey Hepburn (and designed by Hubert de Givenchy) in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The pairing of LBD and pearls in the classic opening scene became what is now known as the “basic black”.  

Artists such as Jane Maxwell and Pedro Bonnin play with these ingrained notions in individual ways, respectively exposing and subverting our expectations. Both artists employ the LBD as a familiar guise to bring the viewer into a personal conversation with the work. However, while Maxwell utilizes the classic ensemble to create a sense of timelessness in her work, Bonnin conversely adds detailed accessories to bring his characters into the present moment.

Represented at JoAnne Artman Gallery:  511 A West 22nd St. New York NY 10011 ||  326 North Coast Hwy. Laguna Beach, CA 92651

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Joanne Artman Gallery