Month: March 2012

When fashion = art

This vibrant postcard announcing the Yves Saint Laurent retrospective at the Denver Art Museum arrived at the Mead last week and has had me thinking ever since about the steadfast relationship of fashion to contemporary art, and what it means to exhibit fashion items in a space traditionally reserved for objects of art. In looking at the collection gallery of items included in the retrospective, it’s clear that many garments by the designer were directly influenced by his relationships to prolific artists and their bodies of work. Garments included in the retrospective pay tribute to visionaries such as Vincent Van Gogh, Georges Braque, and – as illustrated in the images below – Pop artist Tom Wesselmann.

The two dresses above similarly mimic one obvious characteristic attributed to Wesselmann’s work: the fragmented outline of a nude female subject depicted with pink skin, as seen in the painting from the Mead’s collection Great American Nude (above). The two dresses are exhibited in a section of the Yves Saint Laurent retrospective entitled Dialogue with Artists and Writers, which aims to highlight links between the designer and the artists he admired.

Another garment included in the retrospective (but not shown in the online collection gallery for the exhibition) makes reference to the 1965 Yves Saint Laurent collection inspired by Piet Mondrian.

The  Yves Saint Laurent dress on the left and the two sides of a 3D sculpture from the Mead’s collection by Russian-born American artist Ilya Bolotowsky on the right illustrate how a common influence can similarly inform two objects created independently from one another. The dress and the sculpture likewise transcend Mondrian’s 2-dimensional paintings, existing as 3-dimensional objects grounded in real space. Following this logic, the notion of differentiating fashion from art seems somewhat less relevant.

If, like me, you are dying to see all of the garments included in the YSL retrospective but can’t make a trip to Denver before the exhibition ends on July 8, this promotional video is definitely the next best thing:

Image sources: 1/2&3/4/5/6&7

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Bricks and stones

One of the very first objects acquired by the college in 1855, this beautiful glazed brick with its vividly alluring turquoise color and markings of authentic ruggedness immediately captured my attention during my research of the collection. Suspected to be an original relic from the palace of Assyrian King Ashurnasirpal II, the worn brick dates back to the time of the ancient king’s reign from 883 to 859 B.C.E.

click image to enlarge

The brick is joined in the museum’s collection by these fragments of Assyrian wall reliefs, or carvings on slabs of stone. The reliefs are currently on view inside the museum and are believed to have originated from the same time and place as the ancient glazed brick.

As these are some of the oldest objects in the museum’s collection, stemming from before the common era, I am wholly amazed that they remain in such brilliant condition, considering. Though, it does stand to reason that relics made from materials as durable as brick and stone are able to stand the tests of time.

The following objects from the museum’s collection date back to the 1st-2nd Century A.D. and were also created using materials made to last: glass, bronze, and terracotta.

click image to enlarge

Image sources: 1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9