21/10/2014

Peter Lindbergh: Beauty and Truth in Fashion

When John Keats wrote ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty’, he intended that art could sublimate and immortalise beauty and make it eternal, and that truth was to be found in this crystallised idea of beauty. The only place where truth and beauty finally cohabitate is art. From the moment that fashion photography entered the sacred perimeter of the institutions – both the museum and the gallery – it legitimately stepped inside the art world as one of its branches (one of the most profitable, at that). The new retrospective that recently opened at Gagosian Gallery in Paris dedicated to Peter Lindbergh reaffirms this bond between art and fashion photography.

The first solo show dedicated to the fashion photographer in Paris in a decade, the exhibition features works from his 30-year-long career, which saw Lindbergh collaborating with the set of models, designers and editors who still guide the fashion world nowadays, while remaining faithful to his own heritage and aesthetics. Lindbergh is the author of the non-glossy editorials for glossy magazines, such as Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue; he was the first to celebrate the unpolished truth of the defect within the context of glamorous allure of fashion told through images.

The exhibition features the most iconic Lindbergh’s works, all in his signature black and white; from the shots depicting ‘supermodels’, whose myth Lindbergh contributed to create, both with editorials and expressive portraits; to images inspired by modern dance, in which he tried the impossible, succeeding to capture the compelling power of movement. Some of the photographs are in large scale, which allows the user to dwell on the use of light and shade, forms and details. The exhibition’s structure allows for an analysis of Lindbergh’s style and for an overview of the most recurrent themes or obsessions; the differences in the repetition, the limbic atmosphere, the shades of the human body, but above all the faces: eyes, hairs, mouth, nose, skin; the power of the non-retouched glaze, contaminated only by the vagueness of a trace of mist, a puff of smoke.

Peter Lindbergh once said “I don’t think real beauty can exist without truth”, reaffirming the principle that sees beauty and truth inextricably linked, even in fashion photography. With styling reduced to its minimum, un-set poses and raw locations – metropolitan or uncontaminated – Lindbergh applied to fashion his bold and essential language, which, on the contrary of what proposed Keats, portrays truth to reveal beauty.

The exhibition of Peter Lindbergh’s work will run until November 22nd at Gagosian Gallery in Paris.

Marta Franceschini 
20/10/2014

Style Suggestions: Explorer

At times, urban life can require a bit of extreme clothing choices: here is a selection of some of the coolest explorer-style pieces brought from the mountain to the city streets.

Backpack: The Superior Labor x President’s, Jacket: Roy Roger’s, Shoes: Santoni, Beanie: Zegna

Styling by Vanessa Cocchiaro 

20/10/2014

Ryan Trecartin | Site Visit at KW Berlin

Having participated in many important events around the world – not least the 55th Venice Biennale curated by Massimiliano Gioni – and despite not being “Younger than Jesus” anymore, Ryan Trecartin (b. 1981, Texas. Lives and works in Los Angeles, California) continues to excite the art world with a first show in a German institution – the cool KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin.

Resuming his collaboration with fellow artist and long-time creative partner Lizzie Fitch, Trecartin presents “Site Visit”, a show curated by Ellen Blumenstein and Klaus Biesenbach that features a new multi-channel film and a site-specific sound installation. Defined “the most consequential artist to have emerged since the 1980s” by The New Yorker, Trecartin uses a versatile approach, based on skilful use of different media and distinctive involvement of complex characters, to create films and multidisciplinary works strongly connected to the aesthetics and social codes of contemporary pop culture. Wary of half-measures, both in terms of form and content, Trecartin exploits the sharing process among his collaborators in order to display and analyze feelings underlining youth culture. Thus, he shows “over-positivity”, anxiety, nihilism or the effects of uncontrolled consumerism: “We don’t act inside or outside of consumer culture, entertainment, or art culture, we consume and translate, we’re a by-product of it.” At first glance bothersome and sometimes even disgusting, the power of his images is only appreciated by the viewers after a longer period of interaction.

Trecartin’s bizarre characters are certainly freaks (though, in all honesty, they are not that far from personalities we can find broadcast on TV, Internet or in video games on a daily basis), exaggerated simulacrums of our society, flavored with a caustic humor, which overwhelm the scene and make us reflect upon an entire generation dominated by media consumption. These players are part of chaotic stages where kitsch rules and the dramatization of thorny social issues is always around the corner. “Site Visit”, in tune with other Trecartin’s projects, bodes to be an engaging experience that won’t leave you emotionless, for better or for worse.

The exhibition will run until 11th January 2015 at KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin.

Monica Lombardi 
17/10/2014

Liverpool’s Everyman Theatre Wins 2014 Stirling Prize

The new Everyman Theatre in Liverpool by Haworth Tompkins has won the coveted RIBA Stirling Prize 2014 for the best building of the year. Now in its 19th year, the RIBA Stirling Prize is the UK’s most prestigious architecture prize and this year’s award is given out by a panel of judges that was led this year by Spencer de Grey, senior partner at architectural practice Foster + Partners.

The old Everyman Theatre opened in 1964 in the shell of a nineteenth century chapel on one of Liverpool’s main streets. Although a much-loved institution, the building itself was in a state of disrepair. The decision to pull the theatre down and replace it with a new one has been a nine-year project for the architects Haworth Tompkins. They have expertly met a difficult challenge: that of creating an entirely new and sustainable building, whilst retaining and revitalising the best-loved features of its predecessor. The architects were tasked with ensuring that the soul of the old Everyman, one of informality and community ownership – the ‘theatre of the people’ – was carried into the new building. The result is a new building with a striking exterior and elegant interior, all with exceptional attention to detail and sustainability credentials.

This is the first time Haworth Tompkins has won the RIBA Stirling Prize. They were previously shortlisted in 2007 for London’s Young Vic theatre. The Everyman is their first new-build theatre, amongst a portfolio of over a dozen theatres from the Royal Court in 2000 to the recent temporary ‘Shed’ outside the National Theatre. The theatre’s Artistic Director Gemma Bodinetz and Executive Director Deborah Aydon described the building: ‘The Everyman was built with humanity at its heart, an intent embodied by the 105 people of Liverpool on its façade. Haworth Tompkins have delivered us a building that is sustainable, technically first rate and with unparalleled levels of accessibility for a theatre. On a small site with many competing needs and technical necessities they overcame every challenge with zeal and imagination to create something which is a beautiful as it is functional. But most of all they have transformed a building that lacked so much into a building that embodies what the Everyman’s ethos has always been: world-class theatre in our auditorium, nurturing new writing, great food in convivial spaces, and somewhere for young people to dream of a future where nothing is impossible.’

Rujana Rebernjak 
17/10/2014

Mirja Pitkäärt: Function or Fashion

Mirja Pitkäärt, an Estonian designer based in Paris, is balancing her work between practical aspects of designing and more conceptual perspectives – with the result of developing accessories that are out of the ordinary. The work of the Central Saint Martins graduate and winner of the International Talent Support accessories award, includes both wooden bracelets, boxes that looks like they were made of stone and innovative iPad cases. All of her different pieces have, despite their differences in style and material, some common factors which speak about the designer’s philosophy and approach to creative practice.

The natural elements are very present in Mirja Pitkäärt’s work, among which stand out materials like wood, stone and leather, used to build a soft and natural appearance. Along with natural influences, industrial design has a distinct impact on her design aesthetic, expressed through clean and simple shapes. This mix of influences and design references creates a very unique and individual aesthetic, however the thought process behind industrial design production and its relationship with fashion permeates Mirja Pitkäärt’s work. Interested in the idea of design “that sits between product and fashion”, she challenges the idea of wearable and practical accessories through objects that often seem rough, conceptual and crude.

This idea is the most central aspect of her work and can be clearly translated to all of her pieces. While some of her products hide different stories about their use, other borrow their identity from simple tools and everyday shapes, like the comb. As such, Mirja Pitkäärt’s designs question the conventional thoughts about how the modern accessories should look like and be used: in a society that is, despite constant development and progress, sensitive to the unconventional, this approach is very much needed.

Hanna Cronsjö 
16/10/2014

The Future of the Fashion Show

The concept of the fashion show, being as simple as it can be, hasn’t changed for years. Even though it involves a lot of planning, a large amount of resources and energy, it all comes down to a model walking up and down a runway showcasing the clothes. But, just like every other element of fashion business, runways make designers stand apart in the crowd. Thus, what is that secret ingredient that really turns a show into a memorable one? For the Spring/Summer 1999 collection Alexander McQueen had a model in a minimalistic white dress rotate in front of two robotic arms which spray painted the dress in different colors. It was a moment when technology fused with fashion history, adding to the eerie quality of McQueen’s clothes and making the collection stand out in the crowded fashion week schedule.

With the surprise factor being ever more difficult to obtain only through clothes, designers are now looking to change the way fashion shows are presented. Last year, Rick Owens had his spring collection dance down the runway by step dancers in a spectacular show that enticed many, changing, at the same time, the perception of what a runway show could be. With a simple, yet out of the box approach, the collection was given a fierce spin. On the other spectrum of runway innovation, this season’s Lanvin collection turned out to be the talk of town by distancing the fear of aging from the center of fashion industry. The renowned fashion house had Violetta SanchezHelmut Newton’s 80s muse — open the show, while it also featured other catwalk veterans in their thirties and forties, including Kirsten Owen and Amber Valletta. Walking alongside younger girls, they captured the elegance of the clothes exquisitely and showed that age is just an insignificant number.

Today, fashion has shifted from an elitist business to something everyone can enjoy. The same can be said about fashion shows. They have become an entertainment business for the masses, whith models running up and down the runway simply not being interesting enough. The runway has gradually become increasingly more dramatic, with elaborated scenery – the master of which is certainly Karl Lagerfeld with his exuberant shows for Chanel. While the runway models are getting a (slightly retro) update, it appears that the evolution of the fashion show can hardly stop there.

Victoria Edman 
15/10/2014

Under Construction – New Positions in American Photography

In her collection of essays “On Photography” first published 1977, Susan Sontag wrote: “Needing to have reality confirmed and experience enhanced by photographs is an aesthetic consumerism to which everyone is now addicted. Industrial societies turn their citizens into image-junkies; it is the most irresistible form of mental pollution.” Nearly forty years later, the over-consumption of images has now turned into oblivion; we are oblivious to the effects of images, they do not reach our consciousness and are, ever more, turning our reality into a bleak, fading experience. The value and significance of photography is often the subject discussed by contemporary photographers who, through their work, question the very principles of the medium.

A new exhibition at the Foam Museum in Amsterdam gives space to this line of enquiry by proposing the work of nine US and Canadian photographers – Sara VanDerBeek, Lucas Blalock, Joshua Citarella, Jessica Eaton, Daniel Gordon, Owen Kydd, Matt Lipps, Matthew Porter, Kate Steciw – whose project pose questions like: in this new world, how can photography or a photograph be defined and what is its value and significance? How are photographic images created? How does photography relate to reality? What is the function of images in a society in which digitisation has so fundamentally altered the way we communicate (socially, politically and commercially)? “Under Construction – New Positions in American Photography” will run until December 10th 2014 at Foam in Amsterdam.

Image credits, top to bottom: This is Tomorrow, 2013 © Matthew Porter / Courtesy M+B gallery, Los Angeles; Silhouette, 2010 © Daniel Gordon; Heads, 2010 © Matt Lipps / Courtesy Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco; Ancient Solstice, 2014 © Sara VanDerBeek / Courtesy of the Artist, Metro Pictures NY and The Approach London; Standing Offer, 2011 © Lucas Blalock / Courtesy Ramiken Crucible, New York; cfaal 379, 2013 © Jessica Eaton / Courtesy M+B gallery, Los Angeles; Composition 008, 2014 © Kate Steciw / Courtesy Neumeister Bar-AmBerlin and the artist.

Rujana Rebernjak 
15/10/2014

Knitwear is the New Black

Wool is the winter fabric par excellence, yet what we saw this season is a literal knitting invasion. Not only in the form of classic sweaters, the fabric also came in the exciting form of pants and bags. The most innovative look was the one presented by both Stella McCartney and Céline. Extra large shapes for the first, long flared pants –with partially covered shoes – long sleeves and tight silhouettes, for the second. The color palette is pretty similar as well, with the choice of beige, light shades of brown and grey, serving as a statement with the aim to promote ease and warmth in winter-wear.

Marc Jacobs followed the same path by underlining a Sixties mood made of sober knitted suits. The tendency of using in the wool in a different, more sophisticated manner comes even from classy brands: Alberta Ferretti and her refined sweater are a sweet proof of the new approach to knitwear.

On the menswear side, we saw an attempt to involve a wider use of the material in collection such as J.W. Anderson – the sort-of-poncho with a turtleneck that is so feminine yet equally suitable for men – and the maxi, blanket-like cover-ups from Missoni. It seems this year fashion has finally decided to let us cover ourselves up and enjoy the comfort of being warm, without giving up on style.

Francesca Crippa 
14/10/2014

Style Suggestion: Bright Colors for Fall

If the upcoming fall days become as grey as you can bare, add a splash of vivid colors – from bright yellow to hot red or acid green – to liven up your wardrobe.

Top: Mauro Grifoni, Skirt: Arthur Arbesser, Shoes: Dolce&Gabbana, Purse: co|te

Styling by Vanessa Cocchiaro 

14/10/2014

Glitch | Interference Between Art And Cinema

On the occasion of the 10th edition of “The Day Of Contemporary Art” – the annual appointment introduced by the Association of Italian Museums of Contemporary Art to allow a larger audience to visit art venues for free –, PAC opened its latest show with the evocative title “Glitch. Interference between art and cinema”. It was Saturday evening and the area surrounding the art space was teeming with families and groups of people of different generations (mostly men), decorously queuing to see a joint exhibition, which bodes to examine the actual overlapping among disparate languages and expressive mediums, putting in contact contemporary art and cinema. The crowd in and outside the museum is striking and cheerful – certainly the free entrance, the eye-catching design of the event and the summer spirit help to attract visitors –, but the situation doesn’t really allow to enjoy the exhibited works, especially the videos, so we opt for returning to the venue the day after.

As expected, Sunday morning is calm as it is clearly autumn and the number of people seeing the show is much more reasonable. Following a structure based on three levels – cinematographic, installative and performative – the exhibition presents three projection rooms arranged with red curtains, black walls and aligned chairs, while long corridors in front of the garden and first floor are devoted to installations, prints, sculptures, pictures and books developed by numerous participating artists (mostly Italian or living in Italy) invited by the curator Davide Giannella. The list of more or less well-known names is extremely long; sixty-two artists were asked to share their peculiar research, which redefines the increasingly undefined boundaries between different expressive languages, united by a common passing of established classifications.

Among these artists we want to point out: Yuri Ancarani (b. 1972, Ravenna), who presents his trilogy devoted to extreme jobs including “Il capo” (2010), “Piattaforma luna” (2011) and “Da Vinci” (2012); Meris Angioletti (b. 1977, Bergamo) and her multidisciplinary approach; Rosa Barba (b. 1972, Sicily, lives and works in Berlin) with her moving sculptures made of light; Rossella Biscotti (b. 1978, Molfetta, Bari), who displays a video, an installation and a set of pictures based on the figure of “Donnie Brasco”, and Adrian Paci (b. 1969, Scuturi, Albania, lives and works in Milan) with his “Electric blue” (2010), a video we already talked about a year ago in occasion of his show, also held at PAC.

It’s hard to mention all the artists that are worth being mentioned, even because it would take a full day to see nearly half of the videos that are projected at alternate days, thus the experience has to be repeated at least twice (there is a season ticket that gives the opportunity to visit the show several times until its end). Even though the set-up is clear and captivating, maybe decreasing the number of artists would have made the exhibition more fulfilling (“and to think that usually we complain about the lack of content…”). “Glitch” will run until 6th January 2015 at PAC in Milan and it definitely deserves a visit.

Monica Lombardi