First International Exhibition Devoted to Gaultier’s Oeuvre Marks the First Time Dallas Museum of Art Explores the Art of Contemporary Fashion
From November 13, 2011 to February 12, 2012, the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) will host The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, the first exhibition devoted to the celebrated French couturier. The DMA is the first of two U.S. venues to host this critically acclaimed international exhibition after its premier at the organizing institution, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The exhibition also marks the first time that the DMA will present an exhibition dedicated to exploring the art of contemporary fashion. Dubbed fashion’s “enfant terrible” from the time of his first runway shows in the 1970s, Jean Paul Gaultier is indisputably one of the most important fashion designers of recent decades. Very early on, his avant‐garde fashions reflected an understanding of a multicultural society’s issues and preoccupations, shaking up—with invariable good humor—established societal and aesthetic codes. More of a contemporary installation than a fashion retrospective, this major exhibition—which the couturier considers to be a creation in its own right—features approximately 140 ensembles spanning over 35 years from the designer’s couture and ready-to-wear collections, along with their accessories, and numerous archival documents. Many of these extraordinary pieces have never before been exhibited, including a costume from one of Almodóvar’ s recent films and a leather corset that will be shown for the first time during the DMA’s presentation.
“Jean Paul Gaultier’s couture fashions are bold and unapologetic, and intuitively reflect the cultural moods of a global society. His designs inspire, influence, and bring the very essence of imagination to life,” said Olivier Meslay, the DMA’s Interim Director as well as its Senior Curator of European and American Art and The Barbara Thomas Lemmon Curator of European Art. “The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier marks the first time the DMA will present an exhibition that explores the art of fashion and we are thrilled to be the first U.S. institution to exhibit the work of one of the most influential designers of our time.”
“I wanted to create an exhibition on Jean Paul Gaultier more than any other couturier because of his great humanity,” explained Nathalie Bondil, Director and Chief Curator of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. “Beyond the technical virtuosity, an unbridled imagination, and ground-breaking artistic collaborations, Gaultier offers an open-minded vision of society, a crazy, sensitive, and sassy world in which everyone can assert his or her own identity through a unique ‘fusion couture.’”
Keenly interested in all the world’s cultures and countercultures, Gaultier has picked up on the current trends and proclaimed the right to be different, and in the process conceived a new kind of fashion in both the way it is made and worn. Through twists, transformations, transgressions, and reinterpretations, he not only erases the boundaries between cultures but also the sexes, creating a new androgyny or playing with subverting established fashion codes.
According to Kevin W. Tucker, The Margot B. Perot Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the Dallas Museum of Art., “Jean Paul Gaultier’s unflinchingly bold designs resonate with his affection for cultural variety and vitality. He has effectively combined couture, art, and popular culture into his own distinctive aesthetic, which is at once personal and yet reflective of the world around us.”
A celebration of Gaultier’s daring inventiveness and humanist vision, this exhibition pays tribute to his cutting‐edge fashion and explores the audaciously eclectic sources of his ideas. This multimedia installation is organized along six different thematic sections tracing the influences, from the streets of Paris to the world of science fiction, that have marked the couturier’s creative development: “The Odyssey of Jean Paul Gaultier,” “The Boudoir,” “Skin Deep,” “Punk Cancan,” “Urban Jungle,” and “Metropolis.” Sketches, stage costumes, excerpts from films, runway shows, concerts, videos, dance performances, and even television programs on view further explore how his avant-garde fashions challenged societal and aesthetic codes in unexpected, and often humorous ways. The many legendary artistic collaborations that have characterized Gaultier’s global vision are examined in film (Pedro Almodóvar, Peter Greenaway, Luc Besson, Marc Caro and Jean‐Pierre Jeunet); contemporary dance (Angelin Preljocaj, Régine Chopinot and Maurice Béjart); and within the realm of popular music, in France (Yvette Horner and Mylène Farmer) and on the international scene (Kylie Minogue and especially Madonna, whose friendship with Gaultier has led her to graciously lend two iconic corsets from her 1990 Blond Ambition World Tour). Fashion photography is also a major focus of attention, thanks to loans of never‐before‐seen prints from contemporary photographers and renowned contemporary artists including Andy Warhol, Cindy Sherman, Erwin Wurm, David LaChapelle, Richard Avedon, Mario Testino, Steven Meisel, Steven Klein, Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott, Pierre et Gilles, Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin, Paolo Roversi, and Robert Doisneau.
An innovative exhibition design by the architectural and stage design company Projectiles, Paris, showcases the couturier’s designs, as well as prints and video clips that illustrate many of Gaultier’s artistic collaborations. Thirty mannequins wearing remarkable wigs and headdresses by Odile Gilbert, founder of the Atelier 68 in Paris, and with animated faces provided by ingenious audiovisual projections, are placed throughout the galleries, surprising visitors with their lifelike presence. Poetic and playful, the production, design and staging of this audiovisual creation has been produced by Denis Marleau and Stéphanie Jasmin of UBU/Compagnie de création. A dozen celebrities, including Gaultier himself, have lent their faces and often their voices to this project.
Exhibition Organization and Tour
Under the leadership of Nathalie Bondil, Director, and Chief Curator of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk is curated by the MMFA’s Thierry-Maxime Loriot. The coordinating curator of the Dallas presentation is Kevin W. Tucker, The Margot B. Perot Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the Dallas Museum of Art. The presentation in Dallas is made possible by the DMA’s Junior Associates Circle with funds raised through An Affair of the Art 2011: Maison de la Mode: House of Fashion. Air transportation in Dallas is provided by American Airlines.
The exhibition tour will include:
- Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (June 17–October 2, 2011)
- Dallas Museum of Art (November 13, 2011–February 12, 2012)
- Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (March 24–August 19, 2012)
- Fundación Mapfre – Instituto de Cultura, Madrid (September 26–November 18, 2012)
- Kunsthal Rotterdam, the Netherlands (February 9–May 12, 2013)
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts published a major monograph, the first on Gaultier, in collaboration with Abrams for the English edition and Éditions de La Martinière for the French edition. Featuring over 550 illustrations and photographs, the 424-page catalogue includes over fifty interviews with Gaultier’s colleagues, mentors, and muses, as well as the artists he has worked with—among them Pedro Almodóvar, Catherine Deneuve, Helen Mirren, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, Madonna, Martin Margiela, Pierre Cardin, and Dita Von Teese—and features many previously unpublished illustrations thanks to the collaboration of renowned fashion photographers and the Maison Jean Paul Gaultier. An essay written by Suzy Menkes, journalist and Fashion Editor at the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune, examines Gaultier’s fashion shows as visionary reflections of society’s evolution over the past thirty‐five years. The monograph also includes two interviews with the designer, in addition to an interview with Valerie Steele, fashion historian and Director of New York’s The Museum at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology), as well as a timeline of Gaultier’s career.
About the Dallas Museum of Art
Located in the vibrant Arts District of downtown Dallas, Texas, the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) ranks among the leading art institutions in the country and is distinguished by its innovative exhibitions and groundbreaking educational programs. At the heart of the Museum and its programs is its global collection, which encompasses more than 24,000 works and spans 5,000 years of history, representing a full range of world cultures. Established in 1903, the Museum welcomes approximately 600,000 visitors annually and acts as a catalyst for community creativity, engaging people of all ages and backgrounds with a diverse spectrum of programming, from exhibitions and lectures to concerts, literary readings, and dramatic and dance presentations.
The Dallas Museum of Art is supported in part by the generosity of Museum members and donors and by the citizens of Dallas through the City of Dallas/Office of Cultural Affairs and the Texas Commission on the Arts.
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