SAN FRANCISCO, CA.-
For more than fifteen years, the Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave has been producing a completely original body of work that is quite easy to explain but very difficult to categorize. Her central project has been to recreate exquisite, life-size historical costumes entirely from paper. Taking inspiration from the rich depictions in early European paintings, iconic costumes in museum collections, photographs, sketches and even literary descriptions, de Borchgrave skillfully works paper to achieve the effect of textiles: crumpling, pleating, braiding, feathering and painting the surface. The artists exhibition Pulp Fashion: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave is on view February 5 to June 5, 2011, at the Legion of Honor
as part of the Collection Connections series. Fine Arts Museums director John E. Buchanan, Jr., says of the exhibition, I am proud to say that this exhibition, so appropriately presented in the galleries of our Legion of Honor museum, is the first to offer an overview of the artists most important bodies of work: from the white dresses and Papiers à la Mode to the Fortuny and Medici collections and her newest creations.
The Legions presentation of over 60 trompe loeil masterpieces draws on several themes presenting quintessential examples in the history of costumefrom Renaissance costumes of the Medici family and gowns worn by Elizabeth I and Marie-Antoinette to the designs of the grand couturiers Fredrick Worth, Paul Poiret, Christian Dior and Coco Chanel. Special attention is given to the creations and studio of Mariano Fortuny, the eccentric early 20th-century artist, who is both a kindred spirit and a major source of inspiration to de Borchgrave. Additionally, five creations inspired by four paintings in the Legion of Honors European collection will be presented for the very first time.
The exhibition is presented in six sections:
The Artists Studio is recreated to provide insight into de Borchgraves creative process.
In White showcases the purity of craftsmanship in a selection of nine dresses devoid of color.
Papiers à la Mode features iconic looks from key periods in fashion history; gowns worn by such legendary historical figures as Elizabeth I, Madame de Pompadour, Empress Eugénie and Marie-Antoinette. Famous designers such as Charles Fredrick Worth, Paul Poiret and Coco Chanel are represented by signature pieces.
Fortuny is an immersive environment created under a feather-light paper tent populated by recreations of Fortunys famed pleated and draped gowns.
The Medici is the artists most extravagant series, with elaborate velvets, needlework lace, ropes of pearls, and intricate coiffures transformed into paper sculpture.
InspirationDuring a visit the Legion of Honor in the summer of 2010, the artist selected four paintings from the museums European painting collection as the inspiration for her latest body of work. The paintings are: Massimo Stanzione, Woman in Neapolitan Costume, ca. 1635, Konstantin Makovsky, The Russian Brides Attire, 1889, Jacob-Ferdinand Voet, Anna Caffarelli Minuttiba, ca. 1675, and Anthony van Dyck, Marie Claire de Cory and Child, 1634.
Isabelle de Borchgrave is a painter by training, but textiles and costumes are her muses. Working in collaboration with leading costume historians and young fashion designers, de Borchgrave creates a world of splendor from simplest rag paper. Painting and manipulating the paper, she crafts elaborate dresses inspired by the rich depictions in early European painting or by the iconic costumes in museum collections around the world. In her work, she explores the minds of the artists who created or depicted the gowns and imagines the psyche of the women who wore them, transporting her audience to another time and place.
Though de Borchgraves knowledge of textile traditions is encyclopedic, she does not literally duplicate patterns. Instead she masterfully works the paper to a desired effect. With her trompe l'oeil gowns, she invites her viewers to explore her imaginary world and to create their own illusions. As de Borchgrave explains, Although my inspiration springs from the period dresses in the great museum collections, this is just a wink at history. My work is a confluence of influencespaper, painting, sculptor, textiles, costume, illusion and trompe loeil.