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Reflecting Fashion: Art and Fashion since Modernism at museum moderner kunst
Exhibition view, Reflecting Fashion, mumok, 15.6. – 23.9.2012. From left: VALIE EXPORT, BODY SIGN ACTION (5), 1970; Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Kostüm Hopi Indianer, um 1922; Cosima von Bonin, BIKINI I (GHOST VERSION), 2011; Elsa Schiaparelli & Salvador Dalí Woman's Dinner Dress, 1937. Photo: Lisa Rastl© mumok/VBK Wien, 2012/Cosima von Bonin.

VIENNA.- The convergence of art and fashion had already been fully developed more than 100 years ago. Today, they have combined together in a productive crossover that defines the creative expression of a new lifestyle. This summer, a comprehensive exhibition at the mumok embarks upon a journey through the history of art and fashion from early modernism to the present. Reflecting Fashion unites more than 300 paintings, drawings, sketches, textiles, videos and photographs by such artists as Giacomo Balla, Sonia Delaunay, Joseph Beuys, Andy Warhol, Yayoi Kusama, Cindy Sherman, Stephen Willats and many more. The exhibition includes works on loan from more than 70 internationally renowned institutions and private collections.

“Let there be fashion, down with art.”
Since Baudelaire (1821–1867) fashion has been considered to be the epitome of modernity. He understood them to be nearly synonymous describing them in terms of the ephemeral, fleeting and the possible. The modernization of society was reflected in the fashion consciousness of forward-looking artists, who at the same time promoted new progressive role models Sonia Delaunay (1885–1979) was a French-Russian painter and designer who worked both in art and in fashion in order to improve the image of the modern woman. The exhibition includes designs for her famous abstract fabrics. With the Futurists – especially Giacomo Balla – along with such artists as Sonia and Robert Delaunay and Sophie Taeuber-Arp, modernism became more colorful and diverse. Beginning in 1914 with the design of an overall, Balla transformed the idea of the suit with ostentatious and dynamic reinterpretations. That Viennese modernism played a part in this break can be seen in fashion produced around the turn of the 20th century with Kolo Moser, Gustav Klimt and Emilie Flöge and individual positions within the Wiener Werkstätte.

Reflecting Fashion also develops the crucial role Surrealism played within the interplay between art and fashion. With his motto “fiat modes – pereat ars” (Long live fashion – perish art), Max Ernst claimed the ascendancy of fashion over art. The legendary fashion designers Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973) and Coco Chanel (1883–1971) were closely associated with art.

An important moment was Schiaparelli’s famous “lobster dress” (Woman’s Dinner Dress, 1937), which she created together with Salvador Dali in reference to his “lobster telephone” (Téléphone-homard, 1936) that was first shown at the Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme in Paris in 1938.

Between 1939 and 1971, the Spanish artist designed four covers for Vogue, which also dedicated a series of photographs to the lobster-print dress.

“Everything will be art, and then nothing will be art…”
Fashion was popular in the innovative movements of the 1960s – Pop Art, Fluxus and Neodada. Performative and intermedial experimentation would increasingly define the artistic approach to the subject.

Especially the Pop Art icon Andy Warhol was a perfect example of how art, fashion, glamor and business could combine to form an artistic synthesis. Reflecting Fashion presents Warhol as a model and as a trendsetter.

Also represented in the exhibition are, for example, Yayoi Kusama’s Golddress (1966) made with pasta along with Christo’s oversized Wedding Dress (1967), which during a fashion show at an exhibition opening in Philadelphia was for the first time pulled through the room by a model, providing a critical and ironic commentary on fashion. A further important aspect is represented by feminist works by Martha Rosler, Sanja Iveković and VALIE EXPORT.

Contemporary Art and Fashion
The mumok exhibition documents how artists have worked together with designers since the beginning of the modernism, and how beginning in the 1980s, increasingly close connections were formed between the genres.

The world of art and fashion would increasingly take on an important place in everyday life and develop into big business, as international collaborations between artists, designers and other creative professions gained more and more public attention.

The American photographer Cindy Sherman, also in the exhibition, worked with different fashion labels including Comme des Garçons, Issey Miyake and Balenciaga. Sylvie Fleury’s Formula 1 Dress (1999) produced by Hugo Boss played with the cultobject quality of Mika Häkkinen’s racing suit.

The Austrian artist Erwin Wurm created a sculpture for Hermès and Elfie Semotan - whose fashion photographs inspired some of Martin Kippenberger’s paintings – and who also has a long-standing working relationship with the fashion designer Helmut Lang.

Many contemporary artists, including Pawel Althamer, Milica Tomić and Maja Bajević understand fashion as an “art of memory” – where clothing becomes a tool or material. Born in 1967 in Sarajevo, the artist Maja Bajević sewed Yugoslavia together as a new dress in Dressed up (1999) and with this translated memory into the textile.

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