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Yves Klein Archivi - Linda Bajàre

Art outside the museums

Part I

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.

 

“The Shades Of The Art Rainbow Are Endless: Choose Your Favorite!”

Dialogue between Art & Design

The origins of design are to be found in the industrial revolution and in the development of mechanized production which took place from the middle of the 18th century until the mid-19th century.

The qualitative and aesthetic difference between objects created by industry and craft objects almost immediately posed the problem of qualifying new products based on new aesthetics, leaving behind traditional canons.

An architect-artist was Antoni Gaudí, who was able to capture the influences of art and translate them into architecture with a very personal style featuring Art Nouveau in the design of buildings.

After the First World War it was the Bauhaus that laid the roots for a more systematic theory of design and associated it with other disciplines such as art, architecture and manufacturing technique in order to unify artistic, aesthetic, practical and commercial interests.

The innovative school founded in Germany in 1919 by Walter Gropius – the 100th anniversary takes place in April of this year – represented a perfect combination of all the arts, a creative forge that set itself as a reference point for the so-called modern movement. The teachers, including some of the greatest artists of the time such as Paul Klee, Vassily Kandinsky, Josef Albers, László Moholy-Nagy, came from all over Europe. The strong influence of Russian Constructivism – emerging in 1913 and developing in the following years – on the artistic experiences of the Weimar Republic and on the Bauhaus is clear.

After the dissolution of the school and the persecutions of the Nazi regime in 1933, many artistic personalities brought the ideas developed by the Bauhaus movement to the United States.

The school continues its stylistic influences in the contemporary art as well, so much so that in 2007 the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei paid homage to Constructivism by proposing a reinterpretation of the 1920’s Tatlin Tower project inspired by the Tower of Babel: the sculpture by Ai Weiwei “Fountain of Light” is now preserved in the new Louvre museum in Abu Dhabi.

In 1932, the New York MoMA opened the first department of Architecture and Design Museum.

A few years later, in 1977, the multidisciplinary cultural center Center Pompidou was established in Paris, collecting works of modern art, design, architecture, photography, musical activity, cinematography and multimedia works.

In Milan, just a week ago the Triennale opened the Museum of Design, specializing in Italian design with over 1,600 items.
As we have seen, while some design icons have entered the homes of thousands of people, the same cannot be said of the exclusive and famous monochrome tables designed by the French artist Yves Klein in 1961, transparent plexiglass structures containing the trio of colors loved by the artist such as magenta pink, gold and blue that bears his name.

Picasso has extended his vast artistic practice to ceramics which, thanks to him, began in those years to be recognized as a real art, no longer simple craftsmanship.

Another example of an artist who has dedicated himself to this material is Lucio Fontana, who took his first steps in the workshop of his decorator-ceramist father, devoting himself to the design and production of particular furnishing components: his marvelous ceramic fireplaces still reach very high quotations at auction, even though they belong to a period much earlier than his research in spatialism.

The mixture of different disciplines has attracted many artists with different methods and techniques: for example, Le Corbusier, architect, painter, sculptor and designer, in 2015 his major retrospective at the Center Pompidou was opened for the occasion of the 50th anniversary since his death. The exhibition also celebrated the commitment of the Swiss architect in the field of classical arts, and the spaces of the museum highlighted the completeness and vastness of his artistic expression in the famous furniture, paintings, photographs, drawings and architectural projects.

Piet Mondrian, on the other hand, took inspiration from the architecture of New York to create his famous compositions of lines that, for the uninitiated, are real maps of New York and its skyscrapers.

The interpenetration of functionality and beauty, design and inspiration, feed and influence each other also in the case of the Memphis Group, a group of Italian designers and architects in Milan, active between 1981 and 1987, founded by Ettore Sottsass.
The use of bright colors and geometric shapes, in harmony with the pop culture of the time, creates objects that celebrate mass culture. The bright colors and the taste for the typographical technique of advertising and comics with the recovery of the typical puntinato are the basis of their unmistakable stylistic indicator in step with Pop Art.

In recent years there are many designers who have made the border between contemporary art, design and architecture even more fragile: Ron Arad could be one of them. For over 25 years he has been moving between different disciplines creating objects on the verge of design and sculpture. His limited-edition steel works, such as the Big Easy armchair or the Voido Rocking Chair have become the manifesto of his poetics aiming to overcome simple functionality.

Another example of design that becomes art is given by Les Lalanne, a studio formed by the French couple Claude Lalanne (who passed away just in these days) and Francois-Xavier Lalanne, who have often drawn from the Art Nouveau floral shapes and from the dreamlike dimension of Surrealism for their creations.
They showed us the magical side of nature and the animal world with a poetic and ironic language, able to talk to everyone overcoming the hierarchies between art, sculpture and functionality.

Among their collectors, Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, Marc Jacobs and Tom Ford stand out; the Lalanne have been the subject of many retrospectives and their works can be found in museum collections around the world.

The opposite has often happened, namely artists who have collaborated with commercial companies creating limited editions for collecting. One of these is Jeff Koons, who created a limited edition case – only 650 pieces – for the famous champagne brand Dom Pérignon, revisiting the work Balloon Venus.

Even a “normal” restaurant can become an artistic experience, in this case the London restaurant is designed by Damien Hirst and is called Pharmacy, just like the collection of some of his works.
Instead at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, fans of Young British Artists can rest among Hirst’s most famous works in the Hotel’s “Empathy Suite”.

Instead a more economical solution for those who want the work of a great name in contemporary art, can go back on the home line designed by Maurizio Cattelan for Toilet Paper, in collaboration with Seletti.

That said, the Milan design week with its thousands of installations and proposals, contributes to promoting a redefinition of the relationship between art and design, no longer considered as distinct categories but as an entity in continuous evolution.

 

“The shades of the art rainbow are endless: choose your favorite!”

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