Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sweet Inspiration

Part of the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exibit at the Met's Costume Institute

I decided that I have spent way too much time with me, myself and I of late, and that it was time to get out into the world to search for fresh inspiration. I spent Monday tromping around a historic site in NJ (you know how I love a good ruin) the earliest parts of which dated back over three hundred years, which inspired the thought that my own constantly in need of attention eighty-three year old pile of bricks wasn’t so unmanageable.

On Tuesday I went to the Metropolitan Museum to see Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty. Even though McQueen, who died last year at the age of forty-one, left school at  sixteen to apprentice to a Savile Row tailor and went on to become one of the most influential fashion designers in the world this is not an exhibit about clothes. This is an exhibit about how an artist takes disparate influences from nature, politics, art, culture, history, and even Darwin and uses them to create singular masterpieces. Each piece told a story, and the variety of materials used was mind boggling. In McQueen’s hands Razor- clam shells, painted medical slides, burlap and even etched glass become tools to express his vision.

And what a vision! The exhibit is filled with colors and textures that just beg to be touched. Although, I wouldn’t recommend this as there are large guards stationed throughout to prevent a hands on experience.

Beyond being a visionary McQueen was a superb craftsman. He spent his youth studying with master tailors, and costumers. He understood not just how clothes should look, but how they should be constructed and how they should move. Every piece in the Met’s show is impeccable.

There is a quote from McQueen used in the exhibit that I love, You’ve got to know the rules to break them. That’s what I’m here for, to demolish the rules but to keep the tradition.  You don’t know what rules are worth breaking until you know what the rules are. Every good artist spends part of their early creative lives learning what the rules are so that they can make informed decisions later about what parts of tradition are worth holding on to and what parts don’t apply to them. This is where the fun is, every artist chooses to break different rules to come up with their own unique voice.

This was definitely a much needed jolt of inspiration for me this week. It gave me a lot to think about in terms of the importance of vision and craftsmanship, and making your voice heard. I am looking forward to going back to see it as much as I can before it closes on August 7th.

More images from the exhibit:



lora96 said...

oh my gawd thank you for posting this! i so yearned to see this exhibit (live 7 hours away by expensive plane). I pored over the Vogue retrospective. Very cool.

Wendy Lane Bailey said...

You're welcome! The Met's website for the exhibit is pretty spectacular. There's some great video and commentary from the currator and others who knew him. It's not quite as good as being there,but the upside is that there aren't hoards of tourists blocking your view of the good stuff. The catalogue for the exhibit is available on Amazon (for almost half the price of what it is in the Museum store). Mine should get here today, and I'm anxiously awaiting the postman's arrival!