Kollektionen är ett samarbete mellan ETON och den brittiske konstnären John Clark, (1964, Derby, UK)och är baserad på två serier av måleri, “Veil” och “Everyone Works Hard”.
“Art is Art. Fashion is Fashion. However, Andy Warhol proved that they can exist together.”
Art is art and fashion is fashion. Still, there are many more examples than Andy Warhol of coexistence and convergence between the two. Since the late nineteenth century, the boundaries have been blurred as designers have drawn inspiration and ideas from the boundless sphere of art and artists have made use of clothing as an artistic material. Stretching back to the early days of modernism, the relationship between art and fashion has been a long and intricate one, edged with heated debates and unbelievable creations.
One of the first examples of an art and fashion crossbreed is the artistic dress, first introduced by the Pre-Raphaelites during the second half of the nineteenth century and later developed by the Arts and Crafts movement and Wiener Werkstätte, along with artists such as Henry van de Welde, Wassily Kandinsky, and Gustav Klimt. Questioning the strict conventions that dictated fashion and beauty ideals at the time, the advocates of the artistic dress wanted fashion to reflect the aesthetics of contemporary art movements, and to emphasise the natural beauty and individuality of women.
In the twenties and thirties, artists and designers continued to question traditional fashion and beauty ideals while crossing the line between art and clothing. In no less than eight manifests as well as a great number of designs, the Italian Futurists levelled criticism at the lack of imagination in men’s dress and promoted novelty and transformation through the use of bright colours, asymmetrical shapes, and unconventional materials like rubber, metals, and plastics. In France, artist-turned-designer Sonia Delaunay translated her colourful, geometric paintings into bold textile designs and ultra modern pieces of clothing, while Elsa Schiaparelli, famously referred to by Coco Chanel as 'that Italian artist who makes clothes', teamed up Surrealist artist Salvador Dalí to produced the now iconic Shoe Hat and Lobster Dress. With their imaginative and highly influential style, fashion photographers such as Man Ray and Cecil Beaton also helped to bridge the gap between art and design.
During the sixties, the worlds of art and fashion became even more intertwined. Pop artists such as Richard Hamilton and Andy Warhol built their artistic legacy on the superficial world of fashion, beauty, and consumption, establishing an aesthetic that still echoes in art and fashion today. In 1965, Yves Saint Laurent launched a collection of dresses appropriating the minimalist art of Piet Mondrian, while designers such as Mary Quant and Paco Rabanne, followed the course set out by the Futurists and used materials such as metal, paper, and plastic for their innovative and outlandish designs. In 1983, punk designers Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood included the ‘magical, esoteric sign language' of New York graffiti artist Keith Haring’s work in their Witches collection, and later Westwood would hail the British artist Tracey Emin as one of her muses, featuring her in the brand’s campaigns.
Throughout the late eighties and nineties, ideas continued to flow freely between the two domains. Designers such as Rei Kawakubo, Martin Margiela, Alexander McQueen, Hussein Chalayan, and Viktor & Rolf turned toward a more artistic and conceptual approach to fashion, while artists like Louise Bourgeois, Mona Hatoum, Cindy Sherman, and Yinka Shonibare explored the complex relationship between clothing, body, and identity.
Today, the relationship between art and fashion is more blooming than ever. Now, brands on both ends of the scale turn to the art scene in pursuit of inspiration and image renewal, and in recent years we’ve seen Hiroshi Sugimoto’s abstract colour studies on Hermès scarfs, Alighiero Boetti’s vivacious confetti prints on Jil Sander suits, Hilma af Klint’s abstract paintings on Acne sweatshirts, and Damien Hirst’s butterflies on Converse sneakers. However, collaborations between designers and artists cover way more than just garments, spanning backdrops and soundtracks for fashion shows, installations, videos, exhibitions, illustrations, and photography; the latter which is increasingly moving out of the glossy pages of magazines and into museums and art collections. The same holds true also for fashion. In the last decades, fashion has found its way into exhibition spaces and university departments, something that has helped to shine a light not just on the artistic value of fashion, but also on its unique qualities as a bearer of historic and cultural signs as well as an expression of identity and individuality.
Naturally, there is also a business side to it. Injecting art into ready-to-wear collections means bringing an extra depth to the somewhat shallow world of fast fashion, while it simultaneously strengthens the profile and profit of the artist. However, the convergence between art and fashion stretches way beyond branding and business strategy. Throughout history, the interbreeding of art and fashion has brought us some of the most exciting visual innovations and novelties, showing that creativity will flourish when boundaries are blurred.
For artists, working with fashion provides a possibility to explore the visual extravagance and bodily dimension of clothing, as well as the social, historic, and economic powers inherent in the fashion business. Art, on its side, has inspired designers to seek influences from outside the fashion domain and to break with the traditional beliefs determining what clothes can or should be.
In an era marked by globalisation, mass consumption, and endless technological innovation, interdisciplinary collaborations might as well be key to stimulate creativity and address issues such as sustainability, equity, and social change.
Text by Sonja Nettelbladt, curator Galleri Bon.
Projektnamn: ETON <3 John Clark