If you want a life affirming experience, tear yourself away from the computer and get thee to Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs at Tate Modern. Comprising around 120 of Matisse’s fragile paper works, this is the first time this many of the iconic cut-outs have been shown together. The opportunity has not been wasted, with the works displayed in airy rooms that give ample space to these energetic and colourful pieces.
As the story goes, Henri Matisse’s most famous cut-outs were realised in his 70s when, having enjoyed a successful painting career, cancer surgery left him weak and immobile. But the artist had to create so he devised a way to ‘paint’ using paper and scissors, cutting directly into paper that had been coloured by assistants with bright gouache, then pinning and repining on the walls around his bedroom and studio.
However, this was in fact not Matisse’s first experience with cut-outs. As the exhibition’s first room shows, the technique was initially used as a practical planning method, to help figure out the placement of objects in his still life paintings. On display are the earlier pieces and it’s a great opportunity to see them up close, pin holes and all and often with the pins still in place.
The second and third rooms are dedicated to the famous Dancers and Jazz cut-outs. I particularly love the display cases that show the Jazz works printed in a book beneath the framed original ‘maquettes’.
The pictures were meant to be accompanied by poems but the publisher opted for Matisse’s own illustrative and poetic handwritten notes instead. Running along all four walls of the room, this display of colour, shape and huge, rhythmic script is full of life. Alas, Matisse didn’t like the way that the reproduced versions of his art erased the subtlety of layered paper – god knows what he would feel about his work being discoursed through the medium of the computer screen!
Of course, the large scale pieces are the best known and they’re here in all their mesmerising glory. These naïve, organic shapes depicting plants, water and birds were a way for Matisse to feel part of nature even when housebound. The simplicity of these shapes belie the process that Matisse and his assistants went through, painstakingly arranging and rearranging until the desired expression was achieved.
It can’t be denied that we’re in the throes of a Matisse fashion moment right now and this exhibition will be as popular with fashion designers, makeup artists and graphic designers as art students and art lovers (the entrance price is the only downer, a whopping £18). For example, the designs on display that Matisse created for the cover of Verve magazine look as fresh now as they did in 1937 and as for the primary-hued Jazz pieces, well the Celine comparisons have already been made.
Expect the impact to last beyond one season though. This cheering show comes at a time when society’s mood is ready to be lifted. Sixty years after his death, I wonder if these Matisse cut-outs might make a deeper mark on our psyches.
Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs is at Tate Modern until 7th September. It will tour to the Museum of Modern Art in New York from 14th October to 9th February 2015.
Introducing the DRG STYLE INDEX, a ranking of the brands on my radar each week. In order of impact, these are the brands grabbing my attention right now…
1. CELINE’S RETAIL WOW FACTOR
My first foray into the Mount Street store (above). Um, wow. The smell! The flooring! The merch! The ratio of sales staff to customer (3-1 on my visit)! At the till, mulling over a two-tone luggage Tote, was a Ghanian lady in full Vlisco-print gear, including headwrap. Oh to photograph her printed skirt against the patchwork marble floor tiles… But alas no, I got the feeling it’s a No Photos kind of store… Continue reading
Having seen the evolution of fashion blogs over the last seven years (this blog started in 2007), I’m interested in the shift from blogs to brands. Many of the fashion blog pioneers have extended their remit, transforming their blogs into successful creative businesses.
And this approach has spread beyond the bloggersphere to the wider world, hence these days, far from simply aspiring to ‘be a celebrity’ (how 2010!), everyone wants to ‘be a brand’. This thought was crystalised last weekend at the third Vogue Festival (in association with Harrods) at the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall. Vogue, one of the biggest publishing brands is not content with being a print publication. It wants to be a multi platform destination, an event, a lifestyle brand. And as such it has created a means to engage with its future customers, who themselves have become pretty well versed in the stepping stones of brand-building. Continue reading
Sorry PRs but my big highlight of Paris Fashion Week wasn’t the shows or the parties but the new exhibition, Dries Van Noten: Inspirations. Showing at the Arts Decoratifs Museum until 31st August, Dries Van Noten and curator Pamela Golbin have coincidentally created an assemblage of exhibits that encompasses a number of my own favourite themes.
Downstairs is big on the foppish overlaps of masculinity and femininity, the romance of youth subcultures and a fascination with British monarchy and society. As you enter the exhibition through Azuma Makoto’s giant floral fantasia, you’re greeted by a room wallpapered with pop culture references. From camp Divine posters to Interview magazine covers, these are easily recognisable to anyone who grew up in the 80s. Dries Van Noten’s early designs from his student days at the Antwerp Royal Academy (his 1981 sun motif coat looks especially contemporary) sit alongside influential pieces by Kenzo, Mugler, Versace and Worlds End-era Westwood, culled from the museum’s own archive.
The subsequent vitrines are grouped in themes such as ‘Iconclast’, ‘Graphic’ and ‘Butterflies’ and display seemingly disparate items – a film clip, artwork or ancient textile piece – alongside examples from a chosen Dries Van Noten collection, to demonstrate his creative through process. It’s funny to think this is the first time a designer exhibition (it’s not billed as a retrospective) has been presented this way because it really makes a lot of sense in revealing the common passions and aesthetics of the brand and the man. Continue reading
What a surprise to see a Nigel Shafran shoot in Vogue. And styled by Joe McKenna too. Shafran’s last Vogue shoot was 21 years ago and he has brought his quiet observational style to the the UK title with this ode to consumerism (beating Karl to the punch), shot in the temples of Vuitton, Chanel and Celine on Avenue Montaigne… Continue reading
So London Fashion Week is done and dusted (Do check out my daily highlights HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE) but I’m not quite finished yet. As part of my partnership with Swatch, I’m ending on this roundup of forthcoming AW14 trends. You can also head over to the Swatch Facebook page to watch the videos we filmed at Somerset House… Continue reading
And we’re off! It’s the London leg of Fashion Month and there’s a lot I’m looking forward to. Mother Of Pearl makes its London Fashion Week debut this season, Joseph returns to LFW after years and years and years and Blue Farrier is going to show us what’s up her Issa sleeve. Then there’s Hunter’s arrival on the fashion week stage. Is this another Burberry in the making?
Also new for London Fashion Week is the British Fashion Council’s official partnership with Swatch. If you happen to be around Somerset House from today to Tuesday, you’ll find the Swatch pop-up Patisserie (actually a sweet shop on wheels!) parked on the cobbles, stocked with specially created survival sweets to keep flagging fashionistas’ energies up. Among the bonbons are chamomile-infused calming sweets, Guarana-packed energy sweets and vitamin-filled beautifying sweets.
I’m also partnering with Swatch, reporting trend highlights and video footage throughout the week. All this ties in with Swatch’s latest ‘Pastry Chef’ collection of candy-inspired timepieces. Think maccaron shades and liquorice allsorts-prints – just look at these and tell me they’re not the most saccharine accessory treats you’ve seen this season…
*THIS POST IS A SPONSORED COLLABORATION WITH SWATCH
Jewelled cigarette cases, necessaires, cigarette cases, necessaires… Cartier could quite easily have staged its Cartier: Style and History exhibition at Paris’s Grand Palais around these stunning, opulent objects alone. A historic display of around 600 pieces, most from the Cartier archive, it comprises grand tiaras from the world’s royalty (both regal and Hollywood), epic jewels, and magical timepieces, alongside original sketches, plaster moulds, photos and ledgers. Continue reading
Get me to Paris and fast! Forget the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, the only luxury trinkets I want to see this month are safely ensconced in the Grand Palais for the just-opened Cartier. Style and History exhibition.
Amongst the 600-odd pieces of jewellery and 300 contextual objects (paintings, dresses, archive documents – oh my!) on display at this exhibition, there’s a focus on Jeanne Toussaint. Cartier’s head of accessories and later director of jewellery, her bold and clever work has been frequently referenced by modern jewellers.
This 1944 singing uncaged bird brooch represents the liberation of France: