Various artists/makers

Not on view

A singular work created at the fecund intersection of fine art and fashion, this shift dress made of monochromatic panels in hand-dyed cotton, created by Ellsworth Kelly in collaboration with Francisco Costa at Calvin Klein in 2013, is a re-edition of a similar dress made in 1952 by Ellsworth Kelly in collaboration with Anne Weber, which has since been lost.

Ellsworth Kelly stayed in Sanary-sur-Mer, a fishing village in the South of France during his formative years, where he got inspired by the bright red fishing boats, whose brightness he thought would be hard to capture in an oil painting. On a shopping trip to the outdoor markets he bought bolts of vibrantly dyed cotton that he used to make Red Yellow Blue White, a five-panel painting in stretched cloth now in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He gave the leftover materials to his school friend Anne Weber with the instructions to make a dress connecting bands of color, each the same length. She made it, but the bottom panel was longer than the rest, in order to follow the fashionable length of the period as propagated by Christian Dior.

In 2006, art adviser Sharon Hurowitz discovered a photo of the 1952 dress and, convinced that it needed to be reunited with the painting and recorded for fashion history, she asked Mr. Kelly if she could work with him to have it remade. Once he consented, Ms. Hurowitz asked Harold Koda at The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, for advice about who might make it. Mr. Koda suggested Francisco Costa, then creative director for the women’s collection at Calvin Klein, known for his precise tailoring and love of fine textiles. Costa and the Calvin Klein studio collaborated with Kelly on the fabrics, dyes, and fit of the dress. Along the way, Ellsworth decided to change some aspects of the dress -- most notably the length -- because Kelly always wanted the dress to have a more modern, shorter length.

An edition of ten dresses were produced by the studio of Calvin Klein, each with a label designed and signed by the artist.

Based on an original made more than ten years before Yves Saint Laurent’s Mondrian Dress (C.I.69.23), the planarity and minimalism of this dress laid the foundations for a multitude of crossovers between abstract art and fashion in the years to come.

Dress, Ellsworth Kelly (American, Newburgh, New York 1923–2015 Spencertown, New York), cotton, silk, polyamide, elastane, American

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