The Dutch artist Maurits Cornelius Escher is a bit of a strange figure. Not exactly a mainstay of art history, certainly outside of the main art movements of the 20th Century, he is not known for any grandiose statement or gesture or a moment-defining work.
The fashion calendar is getting weirder and weirder.
Kei Shigenaga decided to become a jewelry maker because he saw it as an intersection of fashion and sculpture, two things he’s been interested in for a long time. “I feel that jewelry is not simply something fashionable, but it can be an art object you can have with you every day,” says the Japanese silversmith, who makes everything by hand in his Tokyo studio. He often goes back to traditional Japanese culture for inspiration, trying to make it modern in his own way. Lately he’s been interested in “kintsugi,” a traditional form of art where broken ceramics are mended back together using lacquer covered with gold dust, only Shigenaga uses melted gold instead. In a way, the combination of destruction and creation is the crux of his work.” In my work I try to concentrate on the roughness of precious metals,” says he. He is interested in tension between the image of fine jewelry as something delicate, yet tough.
When you talk to the Canadian architect Philipp Beesley, a long time collaborator of the designer Iris van Herpen, you must rewire yourself. Beesley talks in abstractions – instead of walls and floors and ceilings, you get planes, and motion, and thermodynamics. This isn’t because he’s trying to obfuscate anything, it’s just the way his mind works. In a way it’s a requirement for Beesley, because he has moved on past the traditional architecture of making buildings, which he has done exceedingly well in his career. Instead he creates spaces and environments that operate on a level above the basic requirements of architecture, such as protection from the elements. It’s not that it’s not his concern, but these problems have been thoroughly solved. Instead, he’s more concerned how space interacts with human beings on a philosophical level – freedom, community, interaction. Abstraction is the language that’s required.
The recent scandal involving the staff at a Balenciaga corner at Printemps, the Paris department store, in which it allegedly discriminated against a Chinese shopper, is reprehensible in its own right.
If you cannot make it to the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination exhibit at the Met Museum in New York, you can still get the accompanying catalog, published by Yale University Press in association with the museum.
Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, the new fashion exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is marketed as the biggest one its Costume Institute has put on to date.
At times the Japanese artist Takashi Murakami has irritated me to no end. My first major encounter with his work was at the highly irritating (see?!) 2008 Brooklyn Museum exhibition that was so sponsored by Louis Vuitton. Well, it was more like highjacked by Louis Vuitton, which put a stand with its bags, some of which were for sale, in the middle of the exhibit, and staged a mock Canal street style fake bag stand that sold real $2000 LV bags that long presaged the similar antics by the likes of Vetements and Diesel today. This vulgar display of commercialism tarnished the whole thing. Before that, of course was the much-hyped collaboration with Louis Vuitton (obviously they did not sponsor the exhibit out of the goodness of their capitalist hearts), which, like that with Stephen Sprouse, presaged the avalanche of fashion-artis collabs. Recently, there was an even more questionable collaboration with the ubiquitous Off-White, brokered by Larry Gagosian, the Bernard Arnault of the art world. Murakami’s constant self-knowing smirk that accompanied these crassly commercial stunts told of his complicity more than of anything else. Any attempt of defending him with the usual tropes of “subverting” or “reclaiming” was annulled by his knowing what he was doing. He might as well had put a big “SELLOUT” sign on his back. Some of the work looked crowd-pleasing, sometimes downright infantile, its popularity proving the truism that adults are the new children, chucking out all pretenses at the seriousness of art. Murakami seemed to find his success equally at selling art to hip-hop billionaires and selling incredibly overpriced plush toys at museum shop. And yet. And yet.
For the aesthetically inclined and designed conscious there is probably no better place on earth than Tokyo. And for science fiction fans it’s probably the closest thing to encountering another humanoid civilization – things are similar enough and foreign enough in Tokyo to make it all the more exciting, even though in the last couple of years the intractable march of globalization of culture has left an indelible stamp on the city. I’ve been to Tokyo three times and by now feel confident enough to write a guide of sorts. Because there is so much to do and see here, I decided that the best approach is to break it down by neighborhood rather than the list of places, because there are too many of them. Tokyo is vast – don’t even think about spending less than a week here. I’ll list the neighborhoods more or less in order of preference or proximity to each other. Aside from these recommendations, the best advice I can give you is to get lost in the wonderful maze of Tokyo’s streets – because the best spots are often in the back alleys off the main thoroughfares. You’ll need your GPS.
For Yang Li, the London-based fashion designer, music has always been front and center.