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: