You don’t necessarily have to go to museums to experience the emotion transmitted by art because it blends into our daily lives.
It is with us every day and we can find it in the clothes we wear, in the design objects that decorate our homes and in the futuristic architecture of our cities.
Different areas mutually influencing each other have lost their boundaries: art offers an extraordinary contribution in almost all spheres of activity, inspiring various personalities such as architects, designers, stylists, graphic designers and advertisers.
Drawing on past or contemporary art contributes to the birth of unique and original creations, just think of the goals achieved by design: the balance between functionality and beauty brings it closer and equates it more and more often with contemporary art.
Even before responding to functional needs, modern buildings define a very precise image by getting closer and closer to the peculiar language of art in a dialogue between the two disciplines that is increasingly complementary, in total interpenetration.
In the new generation museums, the space that separates architecture from the work of art (the container from the content) is now eliminated, and the Guggenheim of Bilbao designed by Frank Gehry is emblematic of this radical change, a work of art in all respects and a tourist attraction that has become the symbol of the city.
The soft forms of the museum are a perfect example of deconstructivism, an architectural trend inspired by the works of Russian constructivists of the 1920s, who first broke the balance of the classical composition to create new geometries.
Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain
Art goes beyond tradition to support new ways of learning via the internet, and it is possible to visit museums, monuments and archaeological sites around the world for free and without leaving home.
The need to get a cultural experience at 360° also translates into the creation of virtual tours in many cities of art, the most recent promoted in Milan on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci.
Profiles and forms typical of art have not only entered architecture and design but – as we said – also fashion, making unique and original creative paths and exchanges.
Just look at the catwalks of recent years, full of tributes and references to art not only in clothes but also in scenography, often closer to artistic performance than to the presentation of seasonal collections.
The “museum” effect often accompanied the fashion shows of Dutch stylists Viktor & Rolf, from the homage to Van Gogh in 2014 to the clothes that recalled the action painting in the following year, but the most surprising was the collection dedicated to Picasso in 2016, when they literally transformed the models into living sculptures with asymmetrical monochrome looks so typical of Cubist works.
Viktor & Rolf, Haute Couture S/S 2015
Viktor & Rolf, Haute Couture F/W 2015-2016
Viktor & Rolf, Haute Couture S/S 2016
Picasso himself made his contribution to the world of fashion by creating a button for Coco Chanel and designing performance costumes for Diaghilev’s Russian Ballets – an occasion on which he met his future wife and muse Olga KhoKhlova.
Pablo Picasso, button created for Coco Chanel, 1920
Ceramic and enamel
Pablo Picasso, Curtain for the ballet “Parade” by Massine, 1917
Tempera on canvas, 1050 x 1640 cm
Centre Pompidou, Paris, France
Pablo Picasso, costume for the Chinese Conjurer for the ballet “Parade” by Massine, 1917
Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Theatre and Performance, London, UK
Moschino instead chose to give life to the most famous works of the Spanish painter – from the pink to the blue period up to the Cubist abstractions – in a S/S 2020 fashion show, to say the least, amazing.
Jeremy Scott’s models – between giant straps, gilded frames and decomposed woman profiles – were perfect living works of art, personifications of the great master’s paintings.
Moschino, S/S 2020
The choice to pay homage and to be inspired by art does not only concern current events: in the past, great stylists have taken over famous artists and works, as in the case of Yves Saint Laurent with the “Mondrian Look” of ’66, a collection that incorporates the geometric designs by the Dutch painter who made history.
Yves Saint Laurent, “Mondrian Look”, 1966
About thirty years later, Gianni Versace paid homage to Andy Warhol with a great tribute on the occasion of the S/S collection of 1991, proposing the famous serigraphs of Marylin Monroe and other pop icons printed on polychrome silk dresses.
Gianni Versace, S/S 1991
Always Warhol – from ’62 to ’66 – in turn created a series of clothes inspired by his own works: “Fragile, handle with care” and “Campbell’s Soup Can” communicate the strong criticism towards the society, so typical of the production of the artist, who also manages to transform women’s clothes into a consumer icon. Perfectly in its style, art becomes merchandise and clothes become art.
Andy Warhol, “Souper Dress”, “Brillo” and “Fragile, handle with care”, 1962-66
Suits in paper, cellulose and cotton
The link between art and fashion is consolidated more and more, represented by frequent partnerships and collaborations between fashion houses and contemporary artists engaged in the creation of individual pieces or capsule collections: today the works of art can be seen on the covers of Vogue, in the videos of rappers like Jay Z, on Nike sneakers or Louis Vuitton bags.
Just the fashion house of Bernard Arnault’s LVMH group – which as we will see is strongly committed to promoting and supporting art – thanks to the creative director Marc Jacobs started a series of collaborations with various artists in the late 90s, including Cindy Sherman, Yayoi Kusama, Takashi Murakami and Richard Prince.
The Monogram bags have become some of the most iconic and best-selling fashion accessories of the decade, true works of art to wear, so much that the “Artistic collaborations exhibition” just ended at the Beverly Hills venue celebrated the 180 most charming models of all time of the House.
A collector Marc Jacobs, in turn, recently decided to sell part of his collection at Sotheby’s for New York auctions this November: over 150 works collected over 20 years, from the Impressionist masters to Andy Warhol via Ed Ruscha, the highlight of the collection.
Yayoi Kusama, handbag Monogram for Louis Vuitton, “Infinitely Collection”, 2012
Richard Prince, handbag “Monogram Jokes” for Louis Vuitton, Collezione S/S 2008
Alex Israel, handbag “ArtyCapucines” for Louis Vuitton, 2019
Staying in France, the Celine House has often distinguished itself for collections borrowed from the art world, such as the S/S 2017 line inspired by the famous anthropometric performances of Yves Klein.
The silhouettes of the models’ bodies are imprinted on white dresses like canvases in a shade that incorporates the International Klein Blue patented by the French artist.
In addition to this illustrious tribute, the fashion house has often collaborated with contemporary artists and the last in order of time is Christian Marclay for the S/S 2019 collection, an artist who was inspired by the world of music and comics for a collection who winks at rock.
Left: Yves Klein during a performance; right: Celine, S/S 2017
Christian Marclay for Celine, S/S 2019
Dior – in turn very active in the field of art – recently announced the collaboration with 11 female artists for the 3rd edition of Dior Lady Art, a collection that leaves carte blanche to the reinterpretation of the iconic bag.
This year also the Dior Men capsule was worked out by Kaws, redesigning the historic bee-shaped logo and transforming it into a witty cartoon in the style of the characters of his works.
Not new to experimentation even outside the strictly artistic sphere, Kaws had already collaborated with Nike, with Kenye West designing the cover of the album “808s & Heartbreak” and even in the graphics of the perfume “Love for fairer sex” by Comme Des Garçon in collaboration with the musician Pharrell Williams.
This is to show that the contaminations between different areas are always deeper and more complex.
Keith Haring, sneakers for Adidas
Album “The Velvet Underground and Nico”, 1967
For Marni too, the dialogue between art and fashion represents a continuous source of inspiration. Sally Smart, Ruth Van Beek and David Salle, Stefano Favaro and Christophe Joubert are some of the names related to the Italian house that has recently turned the spotlight on the theme of sustainability and the environment, a key to the reading clearly visible in the scenography of the last show and in the creations of the artists Shalva Nikvashvili and Kazuma Nagai for S/S 2020.
Sometimes collaborations also arise thanks to personal friendships, as in the case of Riccardo Tisci and Marina Abramovich, who on 11 September 2015 created the scenography of the parade to celebrate 10 years as creative director of Givenchy. The harsh setting between the skyscrapers of New York created with recycled materials was a metaphor for the reconstruction on the rubble, in homage to the symbolic date.
Marina Abramovic, catwalk created for Givenchy, S/S 2016, New York, 2015
When art and life intertwine, unique experiences are born, destined to make history, today as yesterday: in the 1930s Elsa Schiaparelli transposed the surrealist poetry on clothes and accessories thanks to her personal friendship with the artists of the calibre like Salvador Dalì, Man Ray and Jean Cocteau.
From these collaborations iconic pieces were born, such as the coat with drawer-shaped pockets designed by Dalì, inspired by the work “Venus de Milo with drawers” of 1936, the famous lobster print embroidered on the clothes or the hat in the shape of a shoe inverted (1933).
Salvador Dalì, “Skeleton” dress, 1938
Other creations by Salvador Dalì for Elsa Schiaparelli
Another current example of today is the link between the Venetian artist Nico Vascellari – Delfina Fendi’s partner – and the collaboration with the Italian fashion house, for which this year he played with the dualism of good-evil / light-dark, creating a walkway transformed into a sort of cave.
In 2018 Fendi sponsored the installation “Revenge” by Vascellari at Maxxi in Rome, thus strengthening the link with the capital and the world of art, increased in 2015 by the restoration of the Trevi Fountain and the opening in 2018 of Rhinoceros, the final seat of the Alda Fendi Foundation in a historic building renovated by Jean Nouvel.
The grand palace of art combines conservation and innovation by offering an avant-garde cultural laboratory in a neighbourhood that until today had not fully exploited its potential.
As we will see later, one of the many benefits brought by the foundations is starting the urban redevelopment processes: while in Milan Prada has rehabilitated an entire neighbourhood – in its wake, the ICA and numerous commercial activities have opened – in Rome the Alda Foundation Fendi turned the spotlight on one of the many places forgotten by the institutions.