Enfilade

Exhibition: Paper Dresses of Isabelle de Borchgrave

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions, today in light of the 18th century by Editor on January 23, 2011

From the Legion of Honor Museum:

Pulp Fashion: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave
Legion of Honor, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 5 February — 5 June 2011

Curated by Jill D’Alessandro

Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave is a painter by training, but textile and costume are her muses. Working in collaboration with leading costume historians and young fashion designers, de Borchgrave crafts a world of splendor from the simplest rag paper. Painting and manipulating the paper, she forms trompe l’oeil masterpieces of elaborate dresses inspired by rich depictions in early European painting or by iconic costumes in museum collections around the world. The Legion of Honor is the first American museum to dedicate an entire exhibition to the work of Isabelle de Borchgrave, although her creations have been widely displayed in Europe.

Pulp Fashion draws on several themes and presents quintessential examples in the history of costume—from Renaissance finery of the Medici family and gowns worn by Elizabeth I and Marie-Antoinette to the creations of the grand couturiers Frederick Worth, Paul Poiret, Christian Dior, and Coco Chanel. Special attention is given to the creations and studio of Mariano Fortuny, the eccentric early-20th-century artist who is both a major source of inspiration to de Borchgrave and a kindred spirit.

Catalogue: Jill D’Alessandro, Pulp Fashion: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave (Prestel, 2011), 104 pages, ISBN: 9783791351056, $29.95.

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From the artist’s website (worth visiting for lots more amazing images). . .

Isabelle de Borchgrave, "Madame de Pompadour paper dress," inspired by a 1755 painting by Maurice Quentin de la Tour, 85 cm x 65 cm x 165 cm, 2001 (Photo: René Stoeltie).

. . . . Following a visit to the Metropolitan Museum in New York in 1994, Isabelle dreamed up paper costumes. While keeping her brushes in hand and her paintings in mind, she worked on four big collections, all in paper and trompe l’œil, each of which set the scene for a very different world. “Papiers à la Mode” (Paper in Fashion), the first, takes a fresh look at 300 years of fashion history from Elizabeth I to Coco Chanel. “Mariano Fortuny” immerses us in the world of 19th century Venice. Plissés, veils and elegance are the watchwords of that history. “I Medici” leads us through the streets of Florence, were we come across famous figures in their ceremonial dress. Figures who made the Renaissance a luminous period. Gold-braiding, pearls, silk, velvet … here, trompe l’œil achieves a level of rediscovered sumptuousness. As for the “Ballets Russes”, they pay tribute to Serge de Diaghilev. Pablo Picasso, Léon Bakst, Henri Matisse, … all designed costumes for this ballet company, which set the world of the 20th century alight. These dancing paper and wire figures play a very colourful and contemporaneous kind of music for us.

Isabelle de Borchgrave, "Madame de Pompadour paper dress," detail

It’s true that, today, Isabelle de Borchgrave has become a name that is readily associated with fashion and paper. But her name is also closely linked to the world of design. By working together with Caspari, the potteries of Gien, Target, and Villeroy and Boch, Isabelle has turned her imagination into an art that’s accessible to anyone who wants to bring festivity into their home. Painted fabrics and paper, dinner services, curtains, sheets, decor with a personal touch for parties and weddings,… All this tells of the world in which she has always loved to move.

But in a 40-year career, she has never put to one side the thing that has always guided her in her life: painting. She still exhibits her paintings and her large folded paper works all over the world. With an imagination increasingly stimulated by her knowledge and interpretation of art, Isabelle, a follower of the Nabis movement, has a fresh perspective of a world that flies around her like a dream.

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