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Archive for the ‘Art and Fashion’ Category

This post comes to us from Sarah Churchill , Curatorial Intern.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901)

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901)

One of the perks of interning here at the New Britain Museum of American Art is access to the museum’s excellent programming, including last month’s symposium “Toulouse-Lautrec & His World Under the Microscope.”  Art historian Nancy Noble presented thought-provoking insights into the inhabitants of Lautrec’s world, while Rhea Higgins focused her attentions upon the many parallels between Lautrec and his contemporary Edgar Degas. Degas, aware of the so-called “parallels” famously said of Lautrec, “He wears my clothes but cuts them down to his size.” Ouch.

I was struck also by the comparison drawn by Noble between Lautrec and Andy Warhol. Both were printmakers and savvy, self-conscious marketers who worked tirelessly to elevate the genre of commercial art. Both suffered crippling disabilities and terrible isolation. This connection is probably the most poignant, for it was the experience of isolation that formed, not only the love of art in each of them, but also the sadness and longing that underscores their work. More fascinating still is their shared interest in the popular culture of their day. It would not at all seem strange to picture the two, side-by-side, holding court at Studio 54. Both Lautrec and Warhol blurred the line between life and art to the point that it can be tough to tell which is the reflection…

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Elie Saab, Spring 2010 Couture (Credit: Style.com)

Spring 2010 couture is all about the surface design of the fabric. I’m not talking your run of the mill prints—no, this is in a whole new direction. This year, fabrics mimic paintings. Evoked through flowing watercolor-inspired chiffon and the layering of colors, this new style creates the appearance of brushstrokes. This trend appears in the Spring 2010 couture collections of Elie Saab, Anne Valerie Hash, Jean Paul Gaultier and Valentino. Coincidentally, the New Britain Museum of American Art is hosting the exhibition The Great American Watercolor opening April 24 and running until July 3rd. The ethos of this current trend can be seen readily throughout the breadth of style and technique in many of the pieces that will be on display.

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Nancy, the Artist’s Daughter, ca 1915. George de Forest Brush (1855-1941). Oil on wood panel, 37 x 28 in. New Britain Museum of American Art, John Butler Talcott Fund and Mrs. H. Bowdith, 1947.01.

Taking a flip through The New York Times’ Style Magazine, there is a clear repetition, or rather, re-occurrence of certain trends that we know, thanks to the accurate documentation of fashion through art, have been around for quite some time. Some of these styles have been derived from the bourgeoisie—the over-the-top decorative manner of those who could afford to spare no expense—while some have far more humble origins—the simple and accessible fashions of the day-to-day people.

This year, well, as in every year, fashion has reached back–way back–for inspiration in creating some of the hottest trends right now. (more…)

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The Reverend Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright, 1820. John Trumbull, (1756-1843). Oil on Canvas, 29 3/4 x 23 3/4 in. New Britain Museum of American Art, Harriet Russell Stanley Fund, 1948.08.

Regardless of time or place, fashion has been an unmistakable facet of portraiture. What someone is wearing in their depiction can tell the viewer the period in which it was painted, the economic standing of the sitter, their relative age, and much much more. While the faces of the subjects are important for identification, their clothing gives further insight to their lives. In John Trumbull’s portrait of Reverend Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright (1820) we can assess what kind of man he is without ever knowing his title. He is clothed in traditional clergyman robes—an austere black and white. The overall lack of color in his wardrobe signifies a devotion to his religious practices while the singularly bright book indicates his passion for the scriptures.

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Ruthie Davis, GRAFFITI: Mondrian Pump with 4.5” nut & bolt heel, 1” forefoot platform, chic fluo patent leather.

With New York Fashion Week right around the corner (February 11-18th) and an upcoming exhibition of Ruthie Davis’ High-Fashion footwear at the NBMAA (Mar. 20 – June 20), one begins to wonder: where does fashion end and art begin? Haute Couture, once a world few dared to enter (its pure and unabashed exclusivity combined with utter impracticality often drives the “average” consumer away) has made its way into both popular culture and art , as a form of art in and of itself. (more…)

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