Blurred Boundaries: Art Meets Fashion in Two Dynamic Shows


Artists and fashion designers are continuously inspiring one another. Artists draw on fashion photography and designs as sources to integrate into their work and manipulate, while designers tap painters and sculptors for new patterns and forms. Two dynamic shows — Dress Codes at New York’s International Center of Photography and The Art of Fashion at the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam — currently explore the blurring of boundaries between these creative fields.

Dress Codes: The Third ICP Triennial of Photography and Video features more than 100 recent works by 34 artists from 18 countries, and investigates issues of racial identity, global culture, social power, and sexual fantasy. Everything in this show is noteworthy, but standouts include Mickalene Thomas’ staged photos of black divas in domestic settings, Jeremy Kost’s wickedly cool Polaroids of club kids and trannies, Wangechi Mutu’s photo-collages of African women cut from porn and fashion magazines, and Thorsten Brinkmann’s assemblage of found furniture and surreal photos of make-believe warriors. Topping off the exhibition is a stellar installation of colorful, curving walls, designed by Abbott Miller.

The Art of Fashion: Installing Allusions presents 25 international artists and designers who cross creative realms. The organizers commissioned new works from designers Viktor & Rolf, Naomi Filmer, Hussein Chalayan, Anna-Nicole Ziesche, and Walter van Beirendonck, and gathered pieces by artists who have used fabric, costumes, and accessories in their work.

View a gallery of images from both art-meets-fashion shows now »

Exhibition designer Judith Clark created a floor plan for the show that riffed on a 1920s Picasso drawing and made for a mostly wall-less display. Chalayan and Christophe Coppens stole the show with large-scale installations — the former being a spinning figure in a box display videotaped from all angles, and the latter consisting of an elaborate cross between a studio filled with objects in progression and a store overstocked with products.

On the artistic side, Robert Gober exhibited a wax-cast shoe, sprouting hair; Louise Bourgeois was represented by stitched, fabric sculptures; Salvador Dalí and Francesco Vezzoli were featured as perfumers, and Nick Cave presented two of his trippy Soundsuits, made from found and recycled materials.

Shows like these not only provide visual entertainment, but also set the stage for more creative interaction and understanding of the importance of art and design in our lives.

Dress Codes: The Third ICP Triennial of Photography and Video, which is accompanied by a catalogue, published by Steidl, continues through January 17, while The Art of Fashion: Installing Allusions ends January 10.