Next week the Christian Dior Museum in Granville, the only French museum dedicated to a couturier, will present an exhibition examining his optimistic, elegant, shapely vision of post-war women, which mirrored the reconstruction of the country at large. Before February 12, 1947, the day Dior's so-called New Look couture collection was shown, Dior was unknown. Thereafter he was one the world's most famous men and exalted artists.
That show catapulted the New Look — in particular the curvy Bar jacket — into a phenomenon. But not everyone was enamored. Dior’s designs were denounced in Britain, where fabric rationing remained in effect. Meanwhile, those who had heeded generations of calls to abandon the corset were rather opposed to the reintroduction of tiny wasp waists and other forms of restrictive femininity. But by the spring of 1948, the New Look had charmed its way into wardrobes everywhere and Paris had reclaimed its status as the center of fashion and style.
The exhibition will focus on 80 couture garments, ranging from that first 1947 collection through Raf Simons' tenure at the house today, as well as roughly a hundred photographs, documents, manuscripts, and original sketches.
Dior: the Revolution of the New Look, June 6 - November 1, 2015, Christian Dior Museum, Granville
Few would argue London was the center of swing throughout the Swinging Sixties. It was ground central for a potent convergence of fashion, music, film, technological innovation, and, perhaps most importantly, social revolution. The era also launched the notion of photographer as artist and celebrity. These bold-faced lensmen will be the subject of an exhibition this summer at Foam Museum in Amsterdam, including Terence Donovan, Brian Duffy, John French, Norman Parkinson, John Hopkins, John Cowan, Eric Swayne, and Philip Townsend — the gamut of known and unknown yet influential names.
Swinging Sixties London: Photography in the Capital of Cool, June 12 - September 2, 2015, Foam, Amsterdam
Photo by Brian Duffy
Photo by John French
Photo by Norman Parkinson
Photo by Norman Parkinson
Photo by Philip Townshend
Like so many hard-to-imagine aspects of Alexander McQueen's life, and death, a play about the designer has been made and it's opening soon.
Playwright James Phillips began work in 2012, the year of McQueen's exhibition at the Met. That the blockbuster is now on view at the V&A, causing heightened McQueen frenzy across the UK, is a stroke of luck. He's also fortunate that, after sending the manuscript to McQueen's family, he received enthusiastic approval.
Nonetheless, Phillips says he's been cautious in his portrayal of the sensitive subject matter. “I was really clear I didn’t want to write a documentary-style bio-play," he told the Independent, "because I don’t think bio-plays work. And there’s a tabloid version of this story, which I had no interest in at all.”
Thus, the play takes the shape of a fairy tale. Based on the theme of one of McQueen's own collections, The Girl Who Lived in a Tree, the story begins with an obsessed fan named Dahlia, who breaks into McQueen's studio and befriends him. The two then go on a magical journey across London, through Savile Row workshops, glamourous fashion parties, and rough East End. This hopscotch structure allows Phillips to address the darker parts of McQueen's story, including his rocky relationship with Isabella Blow, and his eventual suicide.
McQueen is played by Stephen Wight, a fellow East Ender whose resemblance to the designer is uncannily, while Dahlia is played by Diana Agron (Glee). There is also a fair amount of choreography, video projections, and bits of soundtrack from McQueen’s shows, from Mozart to Nirvana. The costumes, too, will nod to McQueen's work, acting as interpretations rather than reproductions.
McQueen, May 12 - June 27, 2015, St James Theatre, London
Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans series first exhibited in 1962. Originally, there were 32 paintings, representing the number of varieties of soup sold at the time. They rested on a shelf, to mimic a grocery store aisle, on the walls of Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles.
Warhol once said of his choice of Campbell’s soup cans, “A group or painters have come to the common conclusion that the most banal and even vulgar trappings of modern civilization can, when transposed to canvas, become art.” Taste was another reason he tapped the mundane object to immortalize. “I used to have the same lunch every day for 20 years, the same thing over and over again," he said. "I used to drink it.” Although the Campbell’s company is said to have considered legal action at the time, legal action was not pursued, opening the door for many more portrayals of the unsung icon by the master of pop art.
MoMA calls the cans "the signature work in the artist’s career," a "landmark" in its permanent collection. Thus the original 32 paintings are the centerpiece of a new exhibition of the artist's work from 1953 to 1967. For the first time at MoMA, they're shown in their original grocery-store line, rather than a grid. The exhibition also includes early drawings and illustrated books Warhol made, as well as other paintings, prints, and sculptures from the time.
Andy Warhol: Campbell's Soup Cans and Other Works, 1953–1967, April 25 – October 12, 2015, MoMA, NY
He lived 99 years, 1903 - 2003, and was drawing Hollywood and Broadway stars until the very end, along the way elevating caricature to an artform. Now the celebrated illustrator Al Hirschfeld, known as the Line King, is getting an exhibit at the New York Historical Society.
In The Hirschfeld Century, a tidy 100 of his greatest works, including both black-and-white and the rare color piece, will be displayed at the New York Historical Society, in addition to paintings, studies, video, and ephemera.
The Hirschfeld Century: The Art of Al Hirschfeld, May 22 - October 12, 2015, New York Historical Society
In 1964 at the Louvre in Paris, Sonia Delaunay became the first female artist to be granted a retrospective during her lifetime. Now, just over 50 years later, another retrospective has just opened at the Tate Modern in London. It examines the full breadth of the avant-gardist's output, as well as her enormous influence on the development of the male-dominated arena of early 20th-century art.
As a cofounder (along with her husband, Robert Delaunay) of the Orphism movement, which introduced vivid geometries of color into the collective practice of abstract art, the Russian-French artist acted as the nexus between a variety of disciplines, particularly painting and textile design.
The exhibition samples Delaunay's entire 60-year oeuvre, including her large-scale paintings and clothing, as well as her friendships and collaborations with poets, choreographers, and manufacturers ranging from the Ballets Russes and the Bauhaus Ballet to the furrier Jacques Heim and Liberty of London.
Sonia Delaunay, April 15 – August 9, 2015, Tate Modern, LondonRead More
In a dual exhibit, Juergen Teller and Xiang Jing explore the notion of desire, but in very different ways. In Teller’s photographs of chef Antonio Guida’s extravagant menu at Hotel Il Pellicano in Porto Ercole, Italy, the glistening dishes take on a lurid, fetishized decadence. Conversely, in Xiang Jing’s hyper-realistic sculptures of nude and mostly hairless female figures, rendered in fiberglass or marble, the Chinese artist strips away desire, thereby averting the male gaze.
Juergen Teller & Xiang Jing, May 21 - June 27, 2015, Lehmann Maupin, Hong Kong
"Never before have a few inches mattered so much," reads the cheeky synopsis of an upcoming exhibit at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto. The provocative exhibit, Standing Tall, will explore the history of men in heels from the early 1600s to today, from kings to rock stars, promising to challenge preconceived notions about who wore high heels and why.
“When heels were introduced into fashion at the turn of the 17th century, men were the first to adopt them, and they continued wearing heels as expressions of power and prestige for over 130 years,” said Elizabeth Semmelhack, senior curator at the museum. “Even after they fell from men’s fashion in the 1730s, there were pockets of time when heels were [worn] not as a way of challenging masculinity but rather as a means of proclaiming it.”
On view will be rare examples of men's heeled shoes from the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as 19th-century military boots, 1930s cowboy boots, and 1940s biker boots. John Lennon's 'Beatle boot' from the 1960s and Elton John's platform shoes from the 1970s will also be on display, as well as couture examples.
Standing Tall: The Curious History of Men in Heels, May 8, 2015 – June 2016, Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto
Japanese Neo-Pop artist Yoshitomo Nara, he of wicked little girl paintings, is back with more girlish wickedness. A churlish cross between Eloise and Wednesday Addams, his petulant protagonists sneer and glare from their canvas frames, often wielding lit cigarettes, sporting bandages, or outfitted in devilish costumes. In the new exhibit, however, the little girls' bad-girl props are replaced by four-pointed stars, suggesting a slightly more innocent future outlook.
Stars, Mar 13 - Apr 25, 2015, Pace, 15C Entertainment Building, Hong Kong