Exhibition | China: Through the Looking Glass

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on January 11, 2015


Evening dress by Roberto Cavalli, 2005
Photo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Press release (23 December 2014) from The Met:

China: Through the Looking Glass
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, 7 May — 16 August 2015

Curated by Andrew Bolton with Harold Koda, Maxwell Hearn, Denise Patry Leidy, and Zhixin Jason Sun

The Costume Institute’s spring 2015 exhibition, China: Through the Looking Glass, will be on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from May 7 through August 16, 2015 (preceded on May 4 by The Costume Institute Benefit). Presented in the Museum’s Chinese Galleries and Anna Wintour Costume Center, the exhibition will explore how China has fueled the fashionable imagination for centuries, resulting in highly creative distortions of cultural realities and mythologies. In this collaboration between The Costume Institute and the Department of Asian Art, high fashion will be juxtaposed with Chinese costumes, paintings, porcelains, and other art, as well as films, to reveal enchanting reflections of Chinese imagery.

ves Saint Laurent by Tom Ford, 2004 Photo: Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of A

Yves Saint Laurent by Tom Ford, 2004
Photo: Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of A

“I am excited about this partnership between these two forward-thinking departments which will undoubtedly reveal provocative new insights into the West’s fascination with China,” said Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of the Met. “The artistic direction of acclaimed filmmaker Wong Kar Wai will take visitors on a cinematic journey through our galleries, where high fashion will be shown alongside masterworks of Chinese art.”

In celebration of the exhibition opening, the Museum’s Costume Institute Benefit will take place on Monday, May 4, 2015. Silas Chou will serve as Honorary Chair. The evening’s co-chairs will be Jennifer Lawrence, Gong Li, Marissa Mayer, Wendi Murdoch, and Anna Wintour. This event is The Costume Institute’s main source of annual funding for exhibitions, publications, acquisitions, and capital improvements.

“From the earliest period of European contact with China in the 16th century, the West has been enchanted with enigmatic objects and imagery from the East, providing inspiration for fashion designers from Paul Poiret to Yves Saint Laurent, whose fashions are infused at every turn with romance, nostalgia, and make-believe,” said Andrew Bolton, Curator in The Costume Institute. “Through the looking glass of fashion, designers conjoin disparate stylistic references into a fantastic pastiche of Chinese aesthetic and cultural traditions.”

Exhibition Overview

Chanel by Karl Lagerfeld, 1984 Photo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Chanel by Karl Lagerfeld, 1984
Photo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

This is The Costume Institute’s first collaboration with another curatorial department since AngloMania: Tradition and Transgression in British Fashion in 2006, a partnership with the Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts. China: Through the Looking Glass will feature more than 130 examples of haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear alongside masterpieces of Chinese art. Filmic representations of China will be incorporated to reveal how our visions of China are shaped by narratives that draw upon popular culture, and to recognize the importance of cinema as a medium through which we understand Chinese history.

The Anna Wintour Costume Center’s Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Gallery will present a series of ‘mirrored reflections’ through time and space, focusing on Imperial China; the Republic of China, especially Shanghai in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s; and the People’s Republic of China. These reflections, as well as others in the exhibition, will be illustrated with scenes from films by such groundbreaking Chinese directors as Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige, Ang Lee, and Wong Kar Wai. Distinct vignettes will be devoted to ‘women of style’, including Oei Huilan (the former Madame Wellington Koo), Soong May-Ling (Madame Chiang Kai-shek), and Empress Dowager Cixi.

Directly above the Anna Wintour Costume Center, the Chinese Galleries on the second floor will showcase fashion from the 1700s to the present, juxtaposed with decorative arts from Imperial China, including jade, lacquer, cloisonné, and blue-and-white porcelain, mostly drawn from the Met’s collection. The Astor Court will feature a thematic vignette dedicated to Chinese opera, focusing on the celebrated performer Mei Lanfang, who inspired John Galliano’s spring 2003 Christian Dior Haute Couture Collection, ensembles from which will be showcased alongside Mr. Mei’s original opera costumes.

Designers in the exhibition will include Giorgio Armani, Vitaldi Babani, Cristobal Balenciaga, Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, Callot Soeurs, Roberto Cavalli, Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, Peter Dundas for Emilio Pucci, Tom Ford for Yves Saint Laurent, John Galliano for Christian Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier, Valentino Garavani, Nicolas Ghesquière for Balenciaga, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Picciolo for Valentino, Craig Green, Madame Grès, Ground-Zero, Guo Pei, Adrian Hailwood, Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton, Charles James, Charles Jourdan, Mary Katrantzou, Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, Jeanne Lanvin, Ralph Lauren, Judith Leiber, Ma Ke, Mainbocher, Martin Margiela, Alexander McQueen, Alexander McQueen for Givenchy, Missoni, Edward Molyneux, Kate and Laura Mulleavy, Dries van Noten, Jean Patou, Paul Poiret, Oscar de la Renta for Balmain, Ralph Rucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Paul Smith, Anna Sui, Vivienne Tam, Isabel Toledo, Giambattista Valli, Vivienne Westwood, Jason Wu, Laurence Xu, and others.

The exhibition, a collaboration between The Costume Institute and the Department of Asian Art, coincides with the Museum’s year-long centennial celebration of the Asian Art Department, which was created as a separate curatorial department in 1915. China: Through the Looking Glass is organized by Andrew Bolton, Curator, with the support of Harold Koda, Curator in Charge, both of The Costume Institute. Additional support is provided by Maxwell Hearn, Douglas Dillon Chairman; Denise Patry Leidy, Curator; and Zhixin Jason Sun, Curator, all of the Department of Asian Art.

Internationally renowned filmmaker Wong Kar Wai will be the exhibition’s artistic director working with his longtime collaborator William Chang, who will supervise styling. Nathan Crowley will serve as production designer for the exhibition-he has worked on three previous Costume Institute exhibitions including Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy (2008), American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity (2010), and Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations (2012). The design for the 2015 Costume Institute Gala Benefit will be created by Wong Kar Wai and William Chang with 59 Productions, and Raul Avila, who has produced the Benefit décor since 2007.

“William Chang and I are pleased to be working in collaboration with The Costume Institute and the Asian Art Department of The Metropolitan Museum of Art on this exciting cross-cultural show,” said Wong. “Historically, there have been many cases of being ‘lost in translation’–with good and revealing results. As Chinese filmmakers we hope to create a show that is an Empire of Signs–filled with meaning for both East and West to discover and decipher.”

The exhibition is made possible by Yahoo. Additional support is provided by Condé Nast and several generous Chinese donors.

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The accompanying publication will be distributed by Yale UP:

Andrew Bolton, with Adam Geczy, Maxwell K. Hearn, Homay King, Harold Koda, Mei Mei Rado, Wong Kar Wai, and John Galliano, with photography by Platon, China: Through the Looking Glass (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2015), 256 pages, ISBN: 978-0300211122, $45.

For centuries, China’s export arts—jade, silks, porcelains, and, more recently, cinema—have fueled Western fantasies of an exotic East and served as enduring sources of inspiration for fashion. This stunning publication explores the influence of Chinese aesthetics on designers, including Giorgio Armani, Christian Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier, Karl Lagerfeld, Ralph Lauren, Alexander McQueen, and Yves Saint Laurent. Drawing upon Chinese decorative arts, cinema, and costume—notably imperial court robes, the close-fitting cheongsam, and the unisex Mao suit—their designs are fantastical pastiches of anachronistic motifs. As in the game of “telephone,” the process of cultural translation transforms the source material into ingeniously original fashions that are products solely of the designers’ imaginations.

In a similar way, contemporary Chinese film directors render fanciful, highly stylized evocations of various epochs in China’s history—demonstrating that China’s imagery is equally seductive to artists in the East and further inspiring today’s designers. Juxtaposing modern fashions and film stills with their forebears in fine and decorative arts and historical dress, this book reveals the rich and ongoing creative dialogue between East and West, past and present.

Andrew Bolton is curator in the Costume Institute, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.



Call for Papers | The Baroque in Light of the Cold War

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on January 11, 2015

From H-ArtHist:

Baroque for a Wide Public: Popular Media and Their
Constructions of the Epoch on Both Sides of the Iron Curtain
Barock für ein breites Publikum. Konstruktionen der Epoche

in populären Medien diesseits und jenseits des Eisernen Vorhangs
Humboldt University Berlin, 11–13 June 2015

Proposals due by 15 February 2015

Organised by Prof. Dr. Michaela Marek, Chair of Art History of Eastern Europe at the Institute of Art and Visual History of Humboldt University Berlin

Histories of art and artists have found a mass public, especially since the 1950s, with the rise of magazines and illustrated books, radio, fictional and documentary films as well as large photo and art exhibitions. Intended for a broad public, they allow to detect the ideas of art and cultural heritage, and connected to that, interpretive models of historic developments in the tension of traditional historic interpretations and current interests. Nevertheless, the significance of pop-cultural art histories (Doris Berger) has not yet been researched thoroughly—particularly by comparative studies—against the background of the competing systems.

This is particularly obvious when forms of communicating art historical knowledge on earlier epochs like the Baroque are studied. While its construction as an epoch of absolutism and of Counter-Reformation initially rather strained its perception in state socialism, exhibitions in Austria advertised the Baroque as a national style serving identity policies (Andreas Nierhaus).

The question is what meanings were attached to the term ‘Baroque’. How were art works and buildings of the 17th and 18th centuries—a time characterised by a Europe-wide circulating of creative ideas—presented in exhibitions, illustrated books, films, travel guides, object-related brochures, school books or in literature on local history? How did predominant national paradigms of art historiography find expression in them, how the existence of the ‘Iron Curtain’? What concepts of historiography were constructed in these media, what images of the epoch were outlined? Did the exhibitions and popular literature differ regarding the intended domestic or foreign public? What were the (new) focuses, evaluations, symbolic charges and attributions to integrate or exclude ‘precarious’ monuments? What relation existed between academic and popular art histories, for which not rarely leading members of the discipline had a share of the responsibility? What role played international exchange and cooperation in the Cold War, as e. g. regarding travelling exhibitions? And which influence did current social incidents and developments exert on the communication of Baroque art in the countries in question during the decades of the division of Europe?

The aim of the symposium as well as of the research project Asymmetrische Kunstgeschichte? Erforschung und Vermittlung ‘prekärer’ Denkmälerbestände im Kalten Krieg (Asymmetrical Art History? Research and Communication of ‘Precarious’ Monuments in the Cold War) in the frame of which the conference will take place is to fathom comparative approaches to art histories and their popularizations as an East-Western intertwined history of discourse. In this context, the focus will be intentionally not the preservation of the objects, but the concepts expressed in texts and images of this period of art between ideological role models and creative interpretation.

Please send us a proposal (one A4-page maximum) of your (unpublished) contribution of 20 minutes as well as a short CV by 15 February, 2015. Conference languages are German and English.

Contact addresses for papers and queries:
Prof. Dr. Michaela Marek, michaela.marek@culture.hu-berlin.de
Eva Pluharová-Grigiene, pluharova@culture.hu-berlin.de
Renata Choinka, choinka@hu-berlin.de


Rijksmuseum Research Fellowship Programme, 2015–16

Posted in fellowships, graduate students by Editor on January 11, 2015

From the Rijksmuseum:

The Rijksmuseum Research Fellowship Programme, 2015–16
Applications due by 15 March 2015

The Rijksmuseum operates a research fellowship programme for outstanding candidates working on the art and history of the Low Countries whose principal concern is object-based research.

The Rijksmuseum houses the world’s largest collection of Dutch artistic and historical treasures, and the most complete library on Dutch art. The museum re-opened its doors to the public in April 2013 following a ten-year renovation that completely transformed the institution. For the first time in its history, the paintings, sculpture, decorative arts and historical artefacts are being shown together in a chronological display. This innovative curatorial approach presents the public with an overview of the art and history of the Netherlands from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century.

The aim of the Rijksmuseum Research Fellowship Programme is to train a new generation of museum professionals: inquisitive object-based specialists who will further develop understanding of Netherlandish art and history for the future. The focus of research should relate to the Rijksmuseum’s collection, and may encompass any of its varied holdings, including Netherlandish paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, prints, drawings, photography and historical artefacts. The purpose of the programme is to enable doctoral candidates to base part of their research at the Rijksmuseum and to encourage the understanding of Netherlandish art and history by offering students and scholars access to the museum’s collections, library, conservation laboratories and curatorial expertise. Partnership and collaboration is at the heart of these fellowships, which provide support for the museum and its research priorities, as well as its academic and non-academic partners.

For the 2015–16 academic year, candidates may apply for the following fellowships:
• Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship
• DSM-JLL Fellowship
• JLL-DSM Fellowship
• Johan Huizinga Fellowship
• Manfred & Hanna Heiting Fellowship

The closing date for all applications is 15 March 2015, at 6:00 pm (Amsterdam time/CET). No applications will be accepted after this deadline. All applications must be submitted online and in English. Applications or related materials delivered via email, postal mail, or in person will not be accepted. Selection will take place in April 2015. Applicants will be notified by 1 May 2015. All fellowships will start in September 2015. Further information and application forms are available here.

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