Don’t ever trust your possessions with Ai Weiwei. When fashion magazine V sent over a selection of garments by 14 emerging designers carried by Dover Street Market, Comme des Garçons designer Rei Kawakubo’s concept store, to the dissident artist with the instructions to shoot them in any manner he wished, he treated them the way he treated 10 Neolithic vases in his 2006/2008 Colored Vases series. Ai splashed paint all over them, and — depending on how you look at it — either destroyed the hard work of these burgeoning designers, or created new pieces of art.
“Pouring a color on an outfit creates creates a new condition for the design,” said Ai in an interview with V. “It creates a midpoint between two conflicting ideas. Gravity and the shape of the clothes combine to create a unique moment. Using these cultural products as ready-mades celebrates and reinterprets the intention of creativity. I think this act shows my respect toward their creativity.” Sure.
This wasn’t the first time that a fashion magazine has given an artist the creative reigns behind a fashion editorial, but the artists usually leave the clothes alone. Vogue handed over clothing and accessories by Givenchy, Balenciaga, and Alexander Wang covered in lively prints to Rachel Perry Welty for their December 2011 issue. She had the prints digitally printed onto backdrops that she camouflaged herself in while wearing the garments. Harper’s Bazaar let Jeff Koons take control of the camera for its September 2011 issue. He merely photographed models in designer clothing standing next to his sculptures. For one of its January 2013 art issue covers, W commissioned Mickalene Thomas to add her touch to it. She put Jessica Chastain in 1970s hair and makeup and had her do an odalisque pose in one of her splashy environments, but she left the Versace gown alone.
Ai decided to forgo the use of models, instead enlisting people in his circle to pose in the garments by designers 1205, Craig Green, Ganryu, Gosha Rubchinskiy, Hood by Air, Jacquemus, KTZ, Lee Roach, Melitta Baumeister, Noir Kei Ninomiya, Pheobe English, Proper Gang, Shaun Samson, and Sibling. He proceeded to pour paint on each of them. “For the last ten years, these 14 colors have existed in our studio color chart for the production of Colored Vases,” said Ai in the V interview. “It’s a complete coincidence that we had these 14 colors for exactly 14 outfits.” One ornate white oversized blouse by KTZ got doused in a shade of chalky lime green, while a structured white jacket and skirt by Jacquemus had red poured all over it.
The results left some of the designers perplexed. “I don’t know if it’s sad or positive that he decided to do the project this way,” Los Angeles–based designer Shaun Samson, who had his plaid jacket and shorts covered in mauve paint, told the Washington Post, “But the outcome is beautiful.”
Whatever the intent is, Ai certainly knows how to make a publicity splash. The garments will go on display at Dover Street Market New York this Sunday and the issue of V debuts November 13.
Louvre Shutters as Pension Plan Protests Intensify
President Macron’s plan to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 has sparked widespread demonstrations across the country.
They Managed to Mess Up an Art Heist Movie
There must be a lesson in Vasilis Katsoupis’s film Inside about the vacuousness of the art market or the claustrophobia of exhibition spaces — I just don’t care.
Pratt’s 2023 Fine Arts MFA Thesis Exhibition Is On View in Brooklyn
The two-part exhibition features the work of 41 graduating artists across disciplines, including painting, sculpture, printmaking, and integrated practices.
Ten Painful Stories of the Dutch Colonial Slave Trade
The Rijksmuseum’s traveling show strives to remind us that we are all, in some way, a part of this chapter of human history, whose legacy continues today.
Textured Histories at Shiprock Santa Fe
The Santa Fe gallery features Indigenous textiles and jewelry from the early 19th century to today.
The Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation Presents The Feminine in Abstract Painting
Curated by Jennifer Samet and Andrea Belag, this group exhibition in NYC explores the feminine through aesthetics, as opposed to identity or gender.
Renaissance Portrait of “Ugly Duchess” Likely Depicts a Man
A curator at London’s National Gallery believes the subject of painter Quinten Massys’s painting “is most likely a he.”
Hokusai’s “Great Wave” Makes a Splash at Auction
An edition of the iconic woodblock print broke records when it sold for $2.8M this week.
NYU Steinhardt Opens 2023 MFA Thesis Exhibitions
Taking place at 80WSE Gallery in New York’s Greenwich Village, Part I is on view from late March through April while Part II opens in May.
MTV’s The Exhibit Is Back With an Inflatable Dolphin
Episode four, in which artists tackled themes of justice and injustice, was the most lifeless of the reality TV show so far.
Florida Principal Ousted Over “Pornographic” Michelangelo Sculpture
Parents complained that the famous sculpture was shown to their sixth graders.
Miniature Worlds: Joseph Cornell, Ray Johnson, Yayoi Kusama
Through small-scale works, this exhibition at the Katonah Museum of Art in New York examines Cornell’s prominent role in the lives and careers of Johnson and Kusama.
Tickets to Sold-Out Vermeer Show Are Going for Hundreds
The online resale market for the Rijksmuseum’s smash exhibition is booming, with tickets selling on eBay for over $2K.
Three Looted Antiquities at the Met Repatriated to Turkey
Nine other repatriated works were seized from Met Trustee Shelby White, whose collection was subject to a criminal investigation.
did he cite PETA as inspiration?
Whatever his intention, someone is going to pay for these. With lots of love… a lot (of love).
Olaf Breuning did this in 2010 with fashion designer Cynthia Rowley. Although the inspiration may have not been, The resulting images are exactly the same. http://artcards.cc/review/ps1-momas-move-recap/2355/
Original is not a good word to describe Ai Wei wei. Most of the reason he is so huge is not his work but his government’s attempts to censor his mostly incredibly mild artwork.
Um, am I the only person who noticed that he poured paint on *people*? There were people in the clothes, but this gets only passing mention when the meaning (or lack thereof) of this work is discussed. There’s a long tradition of covering models in paint and using them as paintbrushes or canvas, as Vanessa has pointed out. Also a long tradition of creative destruction, and a long tradition of publicity stunts. Let’s think about this some more.
Or how about this: Is Ai Weiwei’s work with the clothing lamer or more interesting than Jeff Koons’s photographing models in designer clothing next to his sculptures? Is it more or less interesting than something DuChamp would have done? More or less interesting than designers’ work for Target? Let’s play with this a little. What do you think?
Looks like Ai WeiWei discovered You Can’t Do That on Television
Comments are closed.