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Cubism and Fashion

Martin, Richard
160 pages
200 illustrations
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Cubism's essential role in the development of twentieth-century art, specifically through the innovative work of Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and others beginning about 1908, has been widely recognized for many years. The flat planes, indeterminate space, cylinders, cones, rotation, and use of collage in Cubist art revolutionized painting and sculpture, turning three-dimensional illusionism into abstract concept. Yet, little is known about the relationship between Cubist art and fashion.

Cubism and Fashion demonstrates for the first time how the fundamental traits of Cubist art were translated into fashion during the critical years from 1908 into the early 1920s and how Cubism has continued to influence designers even to the present. This volume, by juxtaposing art and fashion, shows how many of the most glittering and elegant dresses of the teens and twenties benefited from Cubist concepts. Significantly, this book does not extol rudimentary drawings for apparel by Cubist artists, but rather presents a critical study of the most accomplished creations by Poiret, Vionnet, Chanel, and other premier designers who assimilated Cubist principles. Here their work is shown next to art works by Georges Braque, Robert Delaunay, Juan Gris, Fernand Léger, Pablo Picasso, and other seminal artists of the early twentieth century. Richard Martin, Curator of The Costume Institute, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, argues that the influence of Cubism has been at least as powerful for fashion as it has been for bringing about a new way of seeing in the fine arts. During the teens fashion made its transformation from a full, rounded, static, and exaggerated shell built on the human body to a soft, dynamic cylinder revealing the body and reveling in flatness. This volume, accompanying an exhibition at The Costume Institute, provides an unprecedented view of the complete change of the fashion silhouette from three-dimensional and fixed shapes to two-dimensional and ephemeral forms, accompanied by a like shift in materials, which occurred rapidly during the years before World War I. As Martin writes in his Introduction in Cubism and Fashion, "In the search for a description of or analysis for fashion's radical transformation, it becomes clear that Cubism possesses both the aesthetic proximity and the worldly diffusion to be not only metaphor but also cause."

Met Art in Publication

Dress, House of Vionnet  French, silk, French
Jacket, wool, Greek
late 19th–early 20th century
Wedding dress, House of Worth  French, silk, pearl, French
Ball gown, House of Worth  French, silk, glass, metallic thread, French
ca. 1887
Evening dress, Callot Soeurs  French, cotton, silk, metal, French
Ensemble, House of Chanel  French, silk, wool, French
Dress, Lucile Ltd., New York  American, silk, cotton, American
Evening dress, Paul Poiret  French, silk, French
Dress, House of Patou  French, silk, French
ca. 1927
Evening dress, House of Patou  French, silk, glass, metallic thread, plastic, French
ca. 1927
Afternoon dress, Callot Soeurs  French, silk, French
ca. 1926
Evening dress, Callot Soeurs  French, silk, French
Pajamas, Callot Soeurs  French, silk, French
Slip, Callot Soeurs  French, silk, cotton, French
ca. 1927
Evening dress, silk, metallic thread, cotton, French
Ensemble, House of Chanel  French, silk, wool, metal, French
ca. 1927
Evening dress, House of Vionnet  French, silk, French
ca. 1932
Ensemble, Sadie Nemser  American, (a) silk, plastic; (b) silk, wool, American
ca. 1926
Ensemble, Jacques Doucet  French, wool, silk, glass, French
Suit, Louiseboulanger  French, wool, French
Showing 20 of 39

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View Citations

Martin, Richard, John P. O’Neill, and Metropolitan Museum of Art, eds. 1998. Cubism and Fashion: Published in Conjunction with the Exhibition “Cubism and Fashion”, Held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from December 10, 1998, through March 14, 1999. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art [u.a.].