Painting, sculpture and drawing have dominated the means of artistic expression since the dawn of time. Of course now everything in between (from botanicals to skeletons to aborted fetuses) has been used as a medium, but since the big three have remained a staple, it’s been incredible to see a recent resurgence of using fashion objects as the raw materials for art.
The trend came to my attention when I saw Billie Achilleos’s “Maroquinaris Zoologicae”, a commission by Louis Vuitton for the British artist to craft sculptures of animals from LV accessories in honor of their centennial. At first, their inherent adorableness strikes you, but unpacking the various bags, key chains, belts and wallets that compose these creatures exercises our perception and reveals ingenuity in Achilleos’s process. It’s really a wonder to see the level of detail and skill in these sculptures, an activity almost as painstaking as the creation itself.
Similarly, Chinese chameleon Liu Bolin recently repurposed clothing and accessories in a shoot for Harper’s Bazaar. Known for his “Hiding in the City” self-portraits where he’s camouflaged into his surroundings, he reimagined the concept to shoot five designers hidden by objects of their own creation. The shirts, fabric and studio spaces that blended seamlessly with the likes of Jean Paul Gaultier, Alber Ebaz and Angela Missoni give new life and new function to the fashions. Typically used to augment the visibility of the wearer, these brands work in unison to mask their creators, offering a wonderful comment on the relationship between the art and the artist.
Just as New Yorkers witnessed last year at Charles Ledray’s retrospective “workworkworkworkwork” at the Whitney, and Cincinnatians can now view at the Nick Cave show “Meet Me At the Center of the Earth” at the Cincinnati Museum of Art, we’re now seeing how inventive artists can skew sartorial artifacts into sculptural masterpieces. Hopefully the trend won’t fizzle out as quickly as last season’s must-have flip-flop.