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Balenciaga Exhibit at the deYoung Museum (SF)


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#1 Helene

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 01:24 PM

In the "Dressing for the theater" thread, Quiggin linked to photos of people who attended the Balenciaga exhibit opening at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco:

http://balletalert.i...post__p__283847

I saw Balenciaga and Spain" this morning after attending the Picasso exhibit, and I'm :jawdrop: I've never seen so many beautiful clothes in one place ever. If I had a penny for every time a woman said, "I'd wear that", I could afford one of them.

I was tempted put this in "Modern and Other Dance" because of the several designs based on Bata de cola, the skirt worn in Flamenco with the long train of ruffles, and other regional folk dress. It was easy to imagine some of the designs moving, even though they were on the mannequins. The more sculptural designs of stiff fabrics made especially for Balenciaga by Abraham in Switzerland looked static until viewing the runway videos shown in a small space near the exit of the exhibition: there, even the stiffest fabrics moved, and the cherry on top was seeing the layers removed, one by one.

My favorite technique was how how swooped the skirts from back to front and side. In the Flamenco studio, my teachers and advanced students are constantly sweeping their skirts around themselves and tucking them in all kinds of moving sculpture, and Balanciaga caught the snapshot in some of his dresses.

Oh, to be rich, thin, and mobile in 1950's-60's Paris...

Exhibit runs through 4 July, and the de Young tower has one of the great 360 degree city views.

#2 ksk04

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 01:49 PM

If I had a penny for every time a woman said, "I'd wear that", I could afford one of them.



I saw this, as well, last month, my comments alone would have surely purchased you a dress! It was such a beautiful exhibit; the amount of detail was absolutely extraordinary and so many of the looks were absolutely timeless.


I wish I was in New York to see the McQueen exhibit at the Met--often I see the price tags of designer clothes and go "Really?! You've got to be kidding me" but workmanship that went into the Balenciaga clothes made it clear and I'm sure the McQueen exhibit is no less captivating and stunning.

#3 dirac

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 04:19 PM

I don't approve of using museum space to show somebody's old clothes, but if any designer justified such use it would certainly be Balenciaga, some of whose gowns are like beautiful sculpture. I understand why they happen - these displays are popular and bring in lots of wimmenfolk, who constitute the majority of museumgoers, but they are not what proper art museums are for.

The price tags are certainly outrageous, but the women who buy them can pay and indeed jacking up the price is part of the allure.

#4 ksk04

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 04:56 PM

Oh come now. You may not like it (there are certainly things that don't affect me or appeal to me when I go to a museum), but a lot of fashion IS art, especially haute couture. Look at the great couturiers of the 20th century: Chanel, Dior, Givenchy, Balenciaga moving time wise now with Lacroix, Galliano, McQueen, Tisci. All of them have a tangible point of view that creates discussion, inspires, and is done is the service of reflecting or changing culture and creating beauty. Here are some of the examples from the McQueen exhibit: http://blog.metmuseu...cqueen/objects/ or a recent Dior exhibit: http://www.huffingto..._b_858067.html. Perhaps you are working under another definition of "art museum" than I but I don't see any reason why these shouldn't sit proudly next to any other work of "art."

And "wimmenfolk"---really??

#5 dirac

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 05:52 PM

The rash of designer exhibits in museums has been a subject of lively debate, ksk04. Well informed and reasonable people disagree on the matter and your view has its advocates. My own view is that this isn’t really what museums should be doing. It’s better to fill open space with Balenciaga rather than with bad art, if that’s the alternative, but I don’t think anyone is arguing about the prime motivations behind most of these shows: They’re popular and the museums have lots of space to fill. Not to mention the money trail - the Met put on a Chanel exhibition with money fromů..Chanel (the house, that is). This exhibition sounds fine to me, but if you ask me if the Guggenheim should be awarding space to Armani, which it has done, I'm going to say no.


"Wimmenfolk" was intended as a bit of flippancy, not meant to distract from the point, which was that these shows are particularly appealing to women and women are great and loyal museumgoers. My apologies if it was objectionable.

#6 ksk04

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 07:14 PM

Well I've been to a lot of modern art exhibits (using more traditional mediums of artistic expression) where I wonder if the only reason they are there is due wealthy benefactor...so goes the world at this point. Money has never grown on trees for the art world, and this is especially true nowadays.

But art should be exceptional, so while I enjoy a nicely cut Armani, I don't think showing it in a museum is particularly worthwhile for anyone. :thumbsup:

#7 Quiggin

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 07:40 PM

They say that when people start talking about the sets and how good they were, you know the play was a failure. You could say that when costumes – fashions are costumes; am's without the cartesian I's yet in them – become the subject matter of museum shows, then something has failed.

Actually I think that the beautiful Balenciagas and Diors come off better in the classic Vogue and Bazaar photographs than they do on the manikans, which always look strangely assembled, have skin the texture of freshly spread stucco and seem as if they are going to topple over at any moment.

#8 dirac

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 08:34 PM

Certainly I'd rather see gowns by Charles James in their natural habitat in Vogue than hanging dismally on a dummy in a museum.

#9 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 08:35 PM

:wub:
http://enchantedvint...-dress-hall.jpg

#10 dirac

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 11:29 AM

My membership renewal for the de Young boasts of forthcoming exhibitions of Pissarro, Titian.....and Jean-Paul Gaultier. Jeebus Christmas.

#11 bart

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 02:10 PM

Early museums seem devoted almost entirely to works that were durable, hard to the touch, solid, "permanent" -- statuary, , paintings, jewelry, the work of silver- and goldsmiths. Over time, museums began displaying softer, more transitory objects as well -- tapestries being the most important, but also other examples of weaving and embroidery (religious vestments, the robes and hats of great men, etc.).

Tapestries and other fabric art is valued according to the same elements that are used to judge painting and sculpture: color, design, craftsmanship, historical significance, even utility (coverings for bare walls). If high-quality tapestry art belongs in a museum, why not beautifully fabricated garments?

The Alexander McQueen photos (linked by ksk04) are brilliant inventions which would fit very nicely into a exhibit of surrealist painters. Like Dali, for exampe, McQueen seems to have been very concerned about the importance of detail and finish, even in his wilder designs. Similarly, the Dior exhibit has richness of color and voluptuousness of shape that is shared by much of French art from rococo through romanticism to the Belle Epoque, something acknowledged by the settings provided for them by the curators of the Pushkin Museum. The Balenciaga dresses have some of the richness, simplicity of cut, austerity of form, and sober elegance as you find in the clothes worn by princes and princesses in Velazquez portraits.

All three of these designer/artists have a clear, well-thought vision that can be placed with an serious artistic tradition.

This kind of costume art strikes me as being worth preserving and displaying in great museums, even if it happens also to appeal to the frivolous among us. It's BAD, indifferently made, and essentially pointless costume art that I object to.

#12 dirac

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 03:11 PM

I guess I expect a little more from the art I find museum worthy, bart. (No offense, ksk04.) Certainly McQueen is a little too-soon for the Met, although I admired him as a dressmaker. But if it fills up empty space and pays the bills, it serves a limited purpose. But I'm still sorry to see it becoming so common.


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