29 August 2011

Culture Club.... AIC... Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity

The Art Institute of Chicago... Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity
June 30–September 22, 2013
Regenstein Hall
'Woman Reading',  Edouard Manet, 1879

Were the Impressionists fashionistas? At a time in France when designers like Charles Frederick Worth changed how clothing was made and marketed into the first manifestations of the modern fashion industry, artists were using fashion to communicate modernity as an idea.  I love how the artists paints the lacy, poufy collar and ribbon ties above and ellaborates on the lace veil of the top hat on the majestic rider below.

'At the Seaside-Sophie Croizette on Horseback', Carolus Duran

 Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity covers this period between the 1860s and 1880s that saw not only the rise of the department store and the proliferation of fashion magazines but also serious interests among an artistic and literary elite in the ephemeral and constantly innovative qualities of fashion as a means of discovering new visual and verbal expressions.  Just as women were discovering this new means of expressing themselves not only on a day to day basis with fashion but through art realized how they were now able to immortalize themselves.  Think of how we feel now when we are able to get that perfect photograph of ourselves; seen maybe not 'forever' but for many generations in our best fashions and as our most youthful and vibrant self.  This is the true beauty of art and its usefulness.... a Preservation of Time.

'Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte', Georges Seurat
Designers used this new medium of art to illustrate to women everywhere how they should be dressing; wearing the latest fashions and hairstyles and partaking of the latest trends.  What an exciting time to be in!
'La Loge', Pierre Auguste Renoir, 1874
Despite the many exhibitions and studies on the Impressionists, their achievement has never been examined in view of the physical reality of the fashions that they exploited for their own artistic aims. Indeed, one could argue that these artists, along with less experimental painters of modern life, such as Alfred Stevens or James Tissot, responded to the vibrant consumer culture and need to be à la mode.

'Zwei lesende madchen in einem Garten', Pierre Auguste Renoir

The exhibition includes about 90 major figure paintings by Gustave Caillebotte, Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Georges Seurat in addition to fashion portraitists such as Carolus-Duran, Stevens, and Tissot, among others.

Degas via The Musee d'Orsay
A judicious selection of contemporary costumes will provide the physical reality for the sartorial nuances of dress and accessories that artists used to convey their modernity as well as that of their subjects.

'Queen Maria Pia of Portugal', Carolus Duran

The exhibition also includes photographs, fashion plates, advertisements, and other printed materials from the period that bring to life the period in which Monet and his colleagues created some of their most innovative compositions.



 This is not on display in Chicago but rather at the Louvre in Paris; it is such a great representation of how the wealthiest families used artist to immortalize them in their best fashions.  It is one of the best known and most beautiful pastel drawings in the Louvre: the portrait of the Marquise de Pompadour by Maurice-Quentin Delatour. Let the mistress of Louis XV be your introduction to the Age of Enlightenment.

images and article via: The Art Institute of Chicago and The Louvre

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