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Exhibition | Fashion Forward, 3 Siècles de Mode

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on August 11, 2016

The exhibition closes this week at the Arts Décoratifs. Writing for Worn Through (10 August 2016), Hayley-Jane Dujardin-Edwards provides a review.

Fashion Forward, 3 Siècles de Mode, 1715–2016
Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, 7 April — 14 August 2016

Dress and Petticoat (robe à la française), ca. 1740, silk damask satin ground silk brocaded and filé (Collections UFAC, Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris / photo by Jean Tholance)

Dress and Petticoat (robe à la française), ca. 1740, silk damask satin ground silk brocaded and filé (Collections UFAC, Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris / photo by Jean Tholance)

The Musée des Arts Décoratifs is celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of its fashion collection from April 7 to August 14, 2016. In doing so we are responding to our public’s strongly expressed desire to at last be shown an all-embracing panorama of fashion history over several centuries. It will also be an unique opportunity to showcase the jewels and highlight the particularities of a national fashion and textiles collection curated in full dialogue with the other departments of a museum dedicated to all the decorative arts. Fashion Forward, 3 Centuries of Fashion, 1715–2016 brings together 300 items of men’s, women’s and children’s fashion from the 18th century to today, selected from the museum’s collections to provide a novel chronological overview.

The Arts Décoratifs fashion collection now comprises more than 150,000 works, ranging from ancient textiles to haute couture creations and emblematic silhouettes of ready-to-wear fashion, but also including accessories, major collections of drawings and photographs, and the archives of iconic creators such as Elsa Schiaparelli, Madeleine Vionnet and Cristobal Balenciaga. Now France’s foremost national collection, it is the result of the amalgamation of two admirable collections, that of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs since its creation in 1864, and that of the Union Française des Arts du Costume (UFAC), founded in 1948 and currently presided by Pierre Bergé, of which the Musée des Arts Decoratifs is the proud custodian.

To mark the 30th anniversary of the opening of the Musée des Arts de la Mode—founded in 1986 on the initiative of Pierre Bergé and the French textile industry with the support of Jack Lang, then culture minister—the Musée des Arts Décoratifs is paying tribute to this collective adventure and great ‘fashion moment’. Fashion Forward, Three Centuries of Fashion casts a new spotlight on one of the richest collections in the world, freed from its display cases in the Fashion galleries to be shown for the first time in the museum’s Nave.

The three hundred pieces, selected from a collection constantly enriched by donations and acquisitions, take us on a journey through time, highlighting the key moments in fashion history from the very late 17th century to the most contemporary creation. Freeing itself from the dictates of the conservation of works and the stringent conditions of their display, the exhibition is conceived as an ideal museum of fashion, featuring the finest examples of three centuries of creation habitually illustrated in reference books. It also provides a fascinating new insight into fashion’s evolution via its designers, clients and periods, because now more than ever at Les Arts Décoratifs, fashion is treated as an artistic field that has wide-ranging echoes in the museum’s other collections. Fashion is a history of evolving techniques, materials and designs but also a history of changing times and attitudes, a reflection of the art of living. Fashion is even more fascinating when it is not self-generating but dialogues with the arts of its time, as did great figures of Couture such as Charles-Frederick Worth, Jacques Doucet, Paul Poiret, Jeanne Lanvin, Madeleine Vionnet, Gabrielle Chanel, Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent.

In a completely novel manner, the exhibition recreates each of these ‘fashion moments’ in its human, artistic and social context, not didactically but via ellipses illustrating fashion’s constant elective affinities with the decorative arts. Eighteenth-century wood paneling, scenic wallpapers by Zuber, Paul Iribe’s drawings for the ‘Robes de Paul Poiret’, and the straw marquetry doors created by Jean-Michel Frank for the writer François Mauriac, provide perfect settings for fashion’s stylistic expressions and the metamorphoses of the body and style from the 18th century. The exhibition culminates in the effervescence and singular eclecticism of the global contemporary fashion scene, in which the names of the most original creators are now associated with the most ancient fashion houses.

Because the entire history of fashion is also a history of the body and style, the exhibition’s artistic direction was entrusted to the British dancer and choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, formerly one of the stars of the New York City Ballet and winner of a Tony award for his stage adaptation of An American in Paris in 2014, based on the film by Vicente Minelli. In collaboration with the scenographer Jérôme Kaplan and assisted by Isabelle Vartan, Christopher Wheeldon has succeeded in giving the collection a sensual, poetic dimension, breathing new life into these illustrious creations by transforming every stage of the exhibition into a world in itself. Each of these moments is enhanced by a unique collaboration with the dancers of the Opéra de Paris, in which a choreography gracefully casts new light on a silhouette, posture or attitude characteristic of this social and artistic evolution of the body.

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Exhibition | Highest Heaven: Spanish and Portuguese Colonial Art

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on August 11, 2016

Now on view at the San Antonio Museum of Art:

Highest Heaven: Spanish and Portuguese Colonial Art
of the Roberta and Richard Huber Collection

San Antonio Museum of Art, 11 June 2016 — 14 September 2016
Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, 23 October 2016 — 22 January 2017
Worcester Art Museum, 12 March — 9 July 2017
Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia, 2 March — 3 Jun 2018

Curated by William Keyse Rudolph and Marion J. Oettinger

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Our Lady of Candlemas with Donors, Bolivian, Potosí, 1799, oil on canvas (Roberta and Richard Huber Collection; photograph by Graydon Wood, Philadelphia Museum of Art)

Highest Heaven explores the paintings, sculpture, furniture, ivories, and silverworks of the Altiplano, or high plains, of South America in the 18th century. Through the work of both well-regarded masters and lesser-known artists, Highest Heaven highlights the role of art in the establishment of new city centers in the Spanish Empire and the propagation of the Christian faith among indigenous peoples. Drawn exclusively from the distinguished collection of Roberta and Richard Huber, the exhibition highlights the distinct visual language created by the cultural and creative exchanges that occurred between Spain and Portugal and their South American colonies. The exhibition will remain on view through September 4, 2016, before traveling to the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, California in October, and to the Worcester Art Museum in Worcester, Massachusetts the following March.

The exhibition features more than 100 works, including religious paintings, carved and gilded wooden sculptures, intimate ivories, and silverwork, originally housed in ecclesiastical and private collections throughout the former colonial possessions of Spain and Portugal. The majority of these works were created for functional purposes, as articles of faith or symbols of civic order, and were displayed in a manner that enhanced religious understanding, brought social order, and spurred conversion among colonial populations. Highest Heaven examines these uses, focusing in particular on the translation of Christian imagery to the colonies and the ways in which these works and objects worked to establish an ordered society and were integrated into religious life. The exhibition includes approximately 20 recent acquisitions by the Hubers, many of which have never before been seen in a museum exhibition.

“A central component of our mission is to examine and communicate the historic and cultural contexts of artworks, along with the objects themselves. Highest Heaven is an exciting opportunity to not only investigate the aesthetic beauty of this art, but also the significant role that it played in the cultural, religious, and social lives of these peoples,” said Katherine Luber, The Kelso Director of San Antonio Museum of Art. “We are grateful to Roberta and Richard for their collecting vision and the chance to share this incredible collection with our audiences. San Antonio is a city rich in history and diversity, and we look forward to engaging our community with this work, which we think will have a particular meaning here.”

Pax Depicting the Ecce Homo, Peruvian, 18th century, silver (Roberta and Richard Huber Collection; photograph by Graydon Wood, Philadelphia Museum of Art)

Pax Depicting the Ecce Homo, Peruvian, 18th century, silver (Roberta and Richard Huber Collection; photograph by Graydon Wood, Philadelphia Museum of Art)

The exhibition is co-curated by William Keyse Rudolph, Mellon Chief Curator and Marie and Hugh Halff Curator of American Art, and Marion J. Oettinger Jr, Curator of Latin American Art. Unlike many previous exhibitions of Colonial Art, which have arranged objects by media, Highest Heaven will be organized according to iconography. After an introductory section that explores a group of objects made for secular life, the exhibition considers the art works religiously, from the angels and archangels that foretold the coming of Jesus Christ, through imagery dealing with the life of Christ and spread of the gospel, to the importance of the Virgin Mary and the saints. Each section of the exhibition contains a mixture of works of art in all media, from paintings to sculpture to silverwork and ivories.

The Altiplano stretches from northern Argentina to the flatlands of Peru, and much of the exhibition focuses on works produced by workshops in the major cities of Cuzco and Lima in modern day Peru and Potosi in modern day Bolivia, where both European and native artists practiced. Paintings and sculpture served primarily to disseminate Christian images and faith to the New World, while works in ivory and silver underscored the wealth and prosperity of the growing Empire. Paintings also frequently depicted major colonial cities to both capture their urban fabric and educate those back home on the appearance and existence of the colonies.

With the extensive growth of trade across the Empire, works of art took on a range of styles that represented European traditions and local idioms. In some instances, European aesthetics and subjects were replicated directly. In others, European saints, idols, and figures took on the appearance of native populations, enhancing their relevance and influence. Yet, in other work, Christian symbols were incorporated into scenes of local rural and urban life. Together, these distinct yet interrelated approaches, created a new visual culture that represented the expansiveness of the Empire, and spoke to the integration of a diversity of peoples into a single faith.

“In contrast to other areas of Spanish colonial scholarship, such as New Spain (present-day Southwestern United States, Mexico, and Central America), much less is known about the artists, workshop practices, and even the names of South American artists,” said Luber. “Collectors are often the first to blaze the trail of discovery, and then the scholarship follows. A show like Highest Heaven opens up avenues of investigation. We are producing a catalogue that we hope will spur additional scholarship in the field. That’s part of what is so exciting about this exhibition.”

New York-based collectors Roberta and Richard Huber developed the collection of colonial South American art over the last 40 years. The Hubers continue to discover new artists and works, building on their holdings for personal enjoyment and public education and making their collection a living and evolving one. They first discovered the art and antiquities of the Spanish Empire when Richard Huber was relocated for work to Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1962. His and Roberta’s love for the period grew as they traveled and lived in other areas of South America. Today, they are committed to enhancing understanding of the diversity, depth, and intricacy of art produced by artists across the Altiplano during Spanish rule.

Erin Kathleen Murphy and William Keyse Rudolph with contributions by Thomas B. F. Cummins, Katherine Moore McAllen, and Katherine Crawford Luber, Highest Heaven: Spanish and Portuguese Colonial Art from the Roberta and Richard Huber Collection (San Antonio: San Antonio Museum of Art, 2016), 192 pages, ISBN: 978-1883502225, $40.

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