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Montreal Museum Develops the First International Exhibition Devoted to Jean Paul Gaultier
Nathalie Bondil, Jean Paul Gaultier and Thierry-Maxime Loriot. Photo : William Mazzoleni.
MONTREAL.- The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) presents The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, the first international exhibition devoted to the celebrated French couturier, on view from June 17 to October 2, 2011. Gaultier launched his first prêt-à-porter collection in 1976 and founded his own couture house in 1997. Dubbed fashion's enfant terrible by the press from the time of his first runway shows in the 1970s, Jean Paul Gaultier is indisputably one of the most important fashion designers of recent decades. Very early, his avant-garde fashions reflected an understanding of a multicultural society's issues and preoccupations, shaking up - with invariable good humour - established societal and aesthetic codes. More of a contemporary installation than a fashion retrospective, this major exhibition, which features 140 ensembles and numerous documents, is particularly innovative in the theatrical mise en scène and multimedia approach provided by UBU/Compagnie de création's animated mannequins. "I think the way people dress today is a form of artistic expression. Saint Laurent, for instance, has made great art. Art lies in the way the whole outfit is put together. Take Jean Paul Gaultier . What he does is really art," said Andy Warhol (Mondo Uomo, 1984).

Initiated, developed, produced and circulated by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts to mark the thirty‐fifth anniversary of the designer’s own label, this exploration of Jean Paul Gaultier’s creative world has been organized in collaboration with the Maison Jean Paul Gaultier, which provided the Museum with exclusive access to its archives. Following its presentation in Montreal, the exhibition will embark on an international tour, with presentations at the Dallas Museum of Art (November 13, 2011 ‐ February 12, 2012), the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, de Young (March 24 ‐ August 19, 2012), the Fundación Mapfre – Instituto de Cultura, Madrid (September 26 –November 18, 2012), and the Kunsthal Rotterdam, the Netherlands (February 9 – May 12, 2013).

“I wanted to create an exhibition on Jean Paul Gaultier more than any other couturier because of his great humanity,” explained Nathalie Bondil, Director and Chief Curator of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. “Beyond the technical virtuosity resulting from exceptional expertise in the various skills involved in haute couture, an unbridled imagination and ground‐breaking artistic collaborations, he offers an open‐minded vision of society, a crazy, sensitive, funny, sassy world in which everyone can assert his or her own identity, a world without discrimination, a unique ‘fusion couture.’ Beneath Jean Paul Gaultier’s wit and irreverence lie a true generosity of spirit and a very powerful message for society. His humanist aesthetic touches me deeply.”

The exhibition – which the couturier considers to be a creation in its own right rather than a retrospective – features approximately 140 ensembles, mainly from the designer’s couture collections, but also from his prêt‐à‐porter line, along with their accessories. Created between the early 1970s and 2010, these pieces have, for the most part, never before been exhibited. Many other exhibits are also being presented for the first time. Sketches, stage costumes, excerpts from films, runway shows, concerts, videos, dance performances and even television programmes illustrate Jean Paul Gaultier’s fashion world. The many artistic collaborations that have characterized Gaultier’s world is examined: in film (Pedro Almodóvar, Peter Greenaway, Luc Besson, Marc Caro and Jean‐Pierre Jeunet) and contemporary dance (Angelin Preljocaj, Régine Chopinot and Maurice Béjart), not to mention the world of popular music, in France (Yvette Horner and Mylène Farmer…) and on the international scene (Kylie Minogue and especially Madonna, whose friendship with Gaultier has led her to graciously lend two iconic corsets from her 1990 Blond Ambition World Tour). Fashion photography is also a major focus of attention, thanks to loans of, in many cases, never‐before‐seen prints from contemporary photographers and renowned contemporary artists (Andy Warhol, Cindy Sherman, Erwin Wurm, David LaChapelle, Richard Avedon, Mario Testino, Steven Meisel, Steven Klein, Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott, Pierre et Gilles, Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin, Paolo Roversi and Robert Doisneau…).

Keenly interested in all the world’s cultures and countercultures, Gaultier has picked up on the current trends and proclaimed the right to be different, and in the process conceived a new kind of fashion in both the way it is made and worn. Through twists, transformations, transgressions and reinterpretations, he not only erases the boundaries between cultures but also the sexes, creating a new androgyny or playing with subverting hyper sexualized fashion codes.

Under the leadership of Nathalie Bondil, Director and Chief Curator of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the exhibition Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk is curated by the MMFA’s Thierry‐Maxime Loriot.

A celebration of Gaultier’s daring inventiveness and humanist vision, this exhibition pays tribute to his cutting‐edge fashion and explores the audaciously eclectic sources of his ideas. This multimedia installation is organized along six different thematic sections tracing the influences – from the streets of Paris to the world of science fiction – that have marked the couturier’s creative development: The Odyssey of Jean Paul Gaultier; The Boudoir; Skin Deep; Punk Cancan; Urban Jungle; and Metropolis.

The Museum is innovating by collaborating with the Quebec‐based UBU/Compagnie de création for the design and animation of a poetic, playful multimedia creation. Denis Marleau and Stéphanie Jasmin came up with the idea of animating thirty faces through an ingenious projection system. Wearing remarkable wigs and headdresses by Odile Gilbert, founder of the Atelier 68 in Paris, these mannequins are placed throughout the galleries, surprising visitors with their lifelike presence. A dozen celebrities, including Gaultier himself, models Ève Salvail and Francisco Randez, singer and filmmaker Melissa Auf der Maur, soprano Suzie LeBlanc and TV host Virginie Coossa have lent their faces and sometimes even their voices to this innovative project, produced for the first time by a museum. A particularly innovative mise en scène was designed with the architectural and stage design firm Projectiles, Paris, which also designed the Miles Davis retrospective presented at the Museum in 2010.





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