In the wake of another round of couture shows, in all its glory and gore, we take a look at the macabre art of Jessica Harrison. The English-born, Scottish-schooled artist takes found porcelain dolls and alters them in ghastly ways, painting on blood splatters and adding internal organs to the exterior. One figurine looks as if she's plunged her hand into her chest and pulled out her own heart as a kind of sacrifice. Also lots of severed heads.
Harrison views the skin as the place where self and world mingle; we're just calling it haute carnage...
She's regarded by many as the most stylish woman on earth. She was photographed by Richard Avedon and Irving Penn, and was rhapsodized about by Truman Capote. Yves Saint Laurent, a friend, hailed her as a fashion icon, and Jean Paul Gaultier dedicated a couture collection to her. Yet Countess Jacqueline de Ribes, 85, is relatively unknown by younger generations. The Costume Institute is attempting to change that with its fall 2015 exhibition, a revived autumn program snugly sandwiched between its monolithic spring exhibitions.
What sets the countess apart from other 20th-century style icons is the zeal with which she'd take shears to her precious couture, altering priceless garments to fit with her individual taste — the unthinkable, basically. “A close study of de Ribes’s life of creative expression yields illuminating insights into her strategies of style,” says Harold Koda, curator-in-charge of the Costume Institute who spearheaded the show. “Her approach to dress as a statement of individuality can be seen as a kind of performance art."
Along with 60 couture and ready-to-wear items — Pierre Balmain, Madame Grès (Alix Barton), Yves Saint Laurent, Emanuel Ungaro — from de Ribes’s personal collection, the exhibit will also showcase photographs and ephemera that tell the story of her privileged upbringing in France, yet also her voracious work ethic. At a time when women were not expected to hold a job, de Ribes set an entrepreneurial course for herself, one that included fashion and interior designer, as well as screen and theatrical producer.
Jacqueline de Ribes: the Art of Style, Nov 19, 2015 - Feb 21, 2016, Metropolitan Museum
In many ways, Romania is a land whose stereotypes precede it. But don't let vampires and gypsies fool you. While cloaked in tradition, the 'island of Latinity' in a sea of Slavic countries is hurtling toward modernity, ever-liberalizing after the fall of Communism. In fact Bucharest has just been named a contender for the title of European Cultural Capital in 2021, a distinction with the potential to transform the city into a premiere artistic cosmopolis. Romanians are already campaigning hard — and you thought the American presidential election was a big deal.
This was the optimistic atmosphere in which I made my way to Bucharest for Romanian Design Week. Now in its third edition, RDW showcased no fewer than 130 artists and designers working in a panoply of disciplines — architecture, graphic design, and product design, as well as fashion — throughout the cavernous halls of a renovated 19th-century factory in downtown. But it was craft — a big deal in Romania, particularly craft from the secluded, folk-oriented Transylvania region — that seemed to be the star attraction. Which makes sense in a country where a peasant museum counts among its most illustrious institutions and the minimalist sculptor Constantin Brâncuși could go from simple farm boy to one of the greats of modern art.
If museums seem like dreary places, too dreary for art to be hanging out in perpetuity, fear not. The brainchild of French artist and filmmaker Julien de Casabianca, Outings Project brings great works of art into the light, into the street, into public awareness. It's as if the people in these portraits are out stretching their legs and taking in the sights of Paris, Riga, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Hamburg, Los Angeles, Asunción, or wherever de Casabianca happens to be. The public, too, is invited to photograph artworks in their local museum and set them free.
Obviously this is click-bait, pure and simple. But who can blame us? We're only human. These frisky side-by-sides come from the Tumblr Des Hommes et des Chatons (loosely translated as Men and Kittens). It's what the internet was made for; don't fight it. It's the zoo in Zoolander. Meow, you're welcome...
Fashion classicists and Irvin Penn fans will have to wait around two years for the Metropolitan Museum's major survey of the master photographer — with good reason. The museum announced today that it will present an extraordinary Irving Penn retrospective to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the artist’s birth in 1917. The Met, which began acquiring Irving Penn in 1959, has presented two prior shows on the artist — 1977 and 2002 — but nothing on the scale of the centennial exhibition.
To mark the occasion, the Irving Penn Foundation has promised a landmark gift of more than 150 photographs, representing every period of the Penn's 70-year career, forming the core of the exhibition. In all, more than 200 photos will go on view, including fashion studies of Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn, the artist's wife; Quechua children in Cuzco, Peru; New Guinea tribesmen; color flower studies; nudes; portraits of laborers; and still lifes, as well as his studio portraits of cultural figures. It's thought to be the largest collection of Penn's work in the world.
"I was getting my coffee one morning when I saw a photograph on the cover of a newspaper that instantly broke my heart," says director Andrew Morgan about the impetus for making the gut-wrenching documentary The True Cost, executive produced by Livia Firth. "The image was of two boys walking past a giant wall of missing-persons signs. Picking it up, I read the story of the clothing factory collapse outside of Dhaka, Bangladesh, taking the lives of more than 1,000 people and severely injuring thousands more. At the time of the collapse, the factory was making clothes for major Western brands. I soon learned that this was not an isolated tragedy."
Morgan was stunned and sickened to realize that his own clothes could be a product of an inhumane fashion system. He set out to document its hidden horrors, while offering zero reverence to the major houses and chains that have built billion-dollar fortunes on the backs of desperately poor Bangladeshis, Cambodians, Haitians, and so on, most of them women. Fashion is the most labor-dependent industry on the planet, a situation exploited on every level. Plus, in addition to its appalling human-rights record, fashion is now the second most polluting industry on earth, after oil.
"The movie that's going to shock the fashion world,” said Harvey Weinstein, The True Cost is a fashion documentary that unravels and reveals the grim global supply chain of fast fashion and beyond, a phenomenon too recent, too secretive to have its dark side exposed to worldwide scrutiny and outcry. Globalization, trade deals, and outsourcing have delivered the speed, disposability, and price deflation that have led to some of the worst manmade disasters of the modern age — all in the name of cheap fashion.
Visit The True Cost
Commencement speeches are intended to inspire college graduates, which is exactly what John Waters did — in his own twisted wickedness — when he addressed the 2015 graduating class of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). A career in art is a tough road, yet the Prince of Puke has a way of turning grit into gold. Here's the full transcript...
Welcome and good afternoon, President Somerson, Chairman Spalter, honoured guests, parents, faculty, staff, and – mostly! – the 183 graduates and 486 undergraduates here today.
I should say right off that I am really qualified to be your commencement speaker. I was suspended from high school, then kicked out of college in the first marijuana scandal ever on a university campus. I’ve been arrested several times. I’ve been known to dress in ludicrous fashions. I’ve also built a career out of negative reviews, and have been called “the prince of puke” by the press. And most recently a title I’m really proud of: “the people’s pervert.” I am honored to be here today with my people.
In 1971, Yoko Ono conceived a one-woman show at MoMA in which the artist released flies and, as they buzzed about, asked the public to follow them throughout the city. They didn't, but that wasn't the point. This was a guerrilla piece of performance art, very much unsanctioned by the institution.
But now Yoko Ono finally has her one-woman show at MoMA, called One Woman Show — what else? It's the museum's first exhibition dedicated exclusively to the Japanese conceptualist. A survey of her formative years, 1960 to 1971, the exhibition brings together roughly 125 of her early performances, installations, audio recordings, films, and objects.
A number of these re-examined early works were self-explanatory, for example Painting to Be Stepped On (1960). Others invited public participation, such as Cut Piece, in which viewers were asked to cut away bits of fabric from Ono's clothing as she sat silently on a stage. This was a statement on gender roles and culture-based domesticity.
The exhibit ends with Bed-In (1969) and WAR IS OVER! if you want it (1969), around the time Ono met John Lennon and embarked on the next chapter of her career as a uber-famous artist, musician, and collaborator.
Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960–1971, through September 7, 2015, MoMA, NYC