Art Digest: January 25—31

By /ART/, /BLOG/, /NEWS/

Julia Kryshevich

Art Digest: January 25—31

What I don’t like about February, it usually feels mediocre. The last month of winter is certainly not about the heavy snow, crispy frost, and going ice skating impromptu (yet the latter may still come). When it’s February, you already crave spring, while anticipation drags on… Fortunately, the month is relatively short, especially in 2021, which is non-leap, and it also has its nice things like St. Valentine’s Day. Anyway, it’s time to cheer up with a fantastic collection of fashion shows that took place this week, some of them as part of the recent Paris Fashion Week. A bit of inspiration, and the world around miraculously transforms. Just try ✨

F A S H I O N + A R C H I T E C T U R E 

Architect’s dejavu: get inspired by Virgil Abloh’s reminiscences in Louis Vuitton’s new collection 

Let’s be honest, Louis Vuitton Fall 2021 Menswear Collection is a genuine artistic statement. Launched by Virgil Abloh, who has covered the position of Men’s Artistic Director at the fashion house since 2018, the new collection explores the childhood’s aspirations, refers to the Africo-American social and cultural experience, and pays tribute to Abloh’s personal background in architecture, everything in the short film ‘Peculiar Contrast, Perfect Light’. But first things first. Remember mentioning Virgil Abloh’s MA in Architecture in one of the December Art Digests? The fashion designer graduated from Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, where, by the way, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe himself used to teach in the 1940s—1950s. Abloh gratefully recalls it, setting one part of his fashion story in the green-marble interior, which reminds of the Barcelona Pavilion designed by Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich for the Expo 1929.

The other locale shown in the film is a village in the Swiss mountains. The main character, a rapper and actor Saul Williams, pensively walks through the snowy valley. ‘I am no stranger anymore. The world is love to me’, he says, referring to the 1953 essay ‘Stranger in the Village’ by James Baldwin. Just like Baldwin reflected upon the history of American Negro and European relationship basing on his own life experience, Abloh incorporates the image of a wanderer and an observer into the piece. Williams’ character would later arrive at the already mentioned marble hall to meet other models, who are deemed to embody some male archetypes like the Artist, the Salesman, the Architect, the Drifter, the Writer, the Student etc (female archetypes differ, here is more). In the show notes the head of the LV Menswear Department asks: ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’. No doubt, the fashion designer calls on our childhood dreams and, thus, shares his optimistic outlook for the future.

Another component of the ‘Peculiar Contrast, Perfect Light’ really worth mentioning is the 70-piece collection itself entitled ‘Ebonics’.

Apart from the businesslike yet invigorating garments for ‘all Jacks of Trades’, it’s a couple of the city architecture-inspired looks that immediately catches one’s eye. For example, the Paris skyline puffer jacket features such city’s landmarks as the Notre-Dame cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, the Arch de Triumph, the Panthéon, Le Grand Louvre pyramid, and a section of the Centre Pompidou. In the New York City skyline puffer jacket, which primarily consists of the skyscrapers, Abloh also paid tribute to his beloved Chicago with its John Hancock Center. One more connotation that comes to mind contemplating the architectural carnival by Louis Vuitton, is the annual ball of the Society of Beaux-Art Architects, which took place in New York in the 1930s. Architects would dress as the buildings they had designed. Well, Virgil Abloh knows how to address the past with the brightest hopes for the future, and LV Fall 2021 Menswear Collection is the best example of this.

P U R E   F A S H I O N 

Iris Van Herpen SS 2021: explore the ‘magic mushroom’ effect 

Presuming you’ve already heard of Iris Van Herpen. At least, we discussed her ethereal costumes for the ‘Biomimicry’ piece performed by Dutch National Ballet’s grand sujet JingJing Mao at the end of 2020. Well, the collaboration is over, but biomimicry remains. The 36-year-old Dutch couturier famous for fusing technologies with some traditional techniques of clothing design presented her ‘Roots of Rebirth’ SS 21 collection at the Paris Fashion Week a few days ago. It’s ‘the intricacy of fungi and the entanglement of life that breathes beneath our feet, which is at heart of ‘Roots of Rebirth’, says the official statement published on the brand’s website

No, nothing like a carnival with its jocular fussy costumes, but instead, 21 highly delicate looks that allure with its alien energy. The contemplative ingenuity of the designer is worth admiration — Van Herpen managed to subtly embody the image of the branching networks of fungi underground into the garments without exaggerating the concept. Among the models showcasing the collection, Russian supermodel Natalia Vodianova and Iranian-Dutch singer Sevdaliza also appeared on the catwalk. All due fascination, the only question, which raises concern, is: ‘Are there any terrestrial reasons to wear such a dress?’. The answer is probably no, one has to wait to receive an invitation to a space party to put on something like that.

Escapism and high emotions in Spring 2021 Haute Couture by Viktor & Rolf 

Pursuing the topic of Dutch vogue, it’s Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren, the prominent duo of avant-gardists and conceptualists from the world of fashion, who have all eyes on them now. If not Viktor & Rolf, who else would astonish us by some elegant, witty collections with a drop of provocation in each of them (you know, that’s all how avant-garde works). Brand’s gowns featuring huge slogans like ‘I’m not shy, I just don’t like you,’ or ‘Sorry I’m late, I didn’t want to come, is already a common story and a secret crush object of the trendiest introverts. However, this time the designers decided to act in a more extroverted way, launching the Spring 2021 Haute Couture collection as ‘an escape into a party atmosphere’. 

A genuine couturier rave’, the latest collection by Viktor & Rolf follows an ‘anything goes’ approach and seems to be open to new experiences more than ever. Especially now when the world around doesn’t inspire the slightest confidence with human’s health at great risk, such a fashion statement sounds like a power shake or a vigorous protest against the discouraging reality. Patchwork textiles, separate balconette bras, fishnets, and signature floor-length tutus topped by omnifarious jewelry and harlequin capes create that sort of ‘party hard’ mood we all might be missing today. Alright, Victor & Rolf, the challenge is accepted. We’re ready for 2021, whatever it holds. 

‘Show Fashion’ by Alber Elbaz to change your image of vogue 

Having left Lanvin in 2016, Alber Elbaz was floating freely for five years. Now it’s time the fashion designer came up with something invigorating. Here it is, his new AZ Factory project, which is something between a fashion label and a membership club for all those enamoured of Elbaz’ ideas as a couturier. AZ Factory has recently proved itself, taking part in Paris Haute Couture Week with its hilarious ‘Show Fashion’ video. If you watch the piece, you will see: the designer’s decision to go beyond the format of traditional fashion shows is not a coincidence, but rather a consistent choice for the one who seeks to think out of the box in all spheres of life.

As for the AZ Factory Spring 2021 Couture collection, it turned out to be a true manifesto to body, comfort, and just joyful being without limits. But who can actually limit us, one may ask? What Elbaz implies here, are the socially imposed beauty standards. ‘I saw for five years, women I met for lunch how much women were struggling with their weight, and sometimes that was hard to watch, <but> we’re not here to transform women; we’re here to hug them,’ the couturier passionately explains. Just imagine a size range from XXS to XXXXL, with garments and shoes not only fitting, but also adapt to your lifestyle? Well, that might be more than fashion — something like a magic factory… AZ Factory, actually, that’s exactly what it is.

On the cover: Louis Vuitton Fall 2021 Menswear fashion show

Art Digest: January 18—24

By /ART/, /BLOG/, /NEWS/

Julia Kryshevich

Art Digest: January 18—24

You’re an art dealer, gallerist? Managed to summarize the 2020 art year in the end of December or just going to do that? Then you would be pleased to hear. According to the Artsy Gallery Insights 2021 Report, social media has become galleries third best sales channel, pushing art fairs to the sixth place. Actually, it’s a wonderful situation. Just in 2019 digital activities of the galleries like its website, online marketplace, and social media accounts couldn’t enter the top three, taking the fourth, fifth, and sixth positions in the list respectively, while now two of them do. Digitalization works, and as we’ll see, not exclusively in the case of art galleries. Discover other findings, initiatives, and curious art projects of the week in the Digest below.

A R T 

Have an appetite for art? Check new videos by Uffizi Galleries 

‘Uffizi da mangiare’ (Uffizi on a dish) is a new series of videos and a brilliant in-house PR campaign launched by the world-famous galleries. Started on January 17, the project features Florentine chiefs presenting refined recipes, which, for its part, were inspired by the masterpieces from the Uffizi immense collection. The videos are expected to be posted in Italian every Sunday on the Facebook account of the Uffizi Galleries (indeed, the culinary language is multinational and commonly understood). Last week Fabio Picchi, head of Cibrèo Firenze restaurant, gave an online-workshop on how to cook fish and lobsters in Giacomo Ceruti’s style. Yes, just like in the ‘Ragazzo con la cesta di pesci e di aragoste’ painting (1736) by the old master.

Surprisingly or not, the Uffizi Galleries ran no social media before the pandemic. Today, the digital audience of the institution reaches 88,000 followers on Facebook and 591,000 followers on Instagram, which turned out to be a watermark for Italian museums. The Uffizi’s director Eike Schmidt is full of hope about the new project. ‘As families cook and eat these dishes, the art will be the natural conversation topic,’ she shares. Six episodes of the series are already ready for consumption, while another dozen are being prepared. In the future chiefs from other districts like France, Spain, and Britain may also be invited to cooperate. It’s the project success that might tell the trajectory of the ‘Uffizi da mangiare’ .

Da Vinci wouldn’t believe: a beer company pays homage to college diplomas (and it’s extremely expensive) 

$180,000 USD. According to the recent calculations by Natural Light Beer, this is the average cost of four-year college education in America. No, the beer brewing company didn’t go into statistics, but rather decided to hit on arts. The new installation ‘Da Vinci of Debt’ by Natural Light Beer features 2,600 real college diplomas, either hanging from the ceiling or placed in the stack of papers on the floor. The entire work is valued at $470 million USD (just multiply $180,000 by 2,600), which, actually, means two things. First, the installation slightly exceeds the cost of Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘Salvator Mundi’, the most expensive masterpiece ever sold. Second (and this is the ‘Da Vinci of Debt’ main idea), millions of American college grads are at risk today, because of the student debt crisis raging over the last few years. 

The ‘Da Vinci of Debt’ installation is placed at New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, but you can also enjoy it remotely, visiting the company website or using an AR lens on Snapchat. Though their choice of the artistic medium might seem unusual, Daniel Blake, Natural Light Beer VP of marketing, gives it a reasonable explanation, drawing a smart analogy between ‘the costs of the art world’ and ‘the sky-high cost of attending a four-year college’. Thus, the company hopes to raise public awareness to the issue of student debt and make people appreciate their college experience (both as a piece of one’s heart and a damage to one’s pocket).  


Take a look at Yohji Yamamoto Fall 2021 Menswear Collection

Looking back on 2020, I as a PH Arts Editor have noticed an oversight in the magazine’s work. We don’t usually focus on men’s fashion as much as we do on women’s. My gut tells me, it isn’t right, just looking at the growing audience of Purplehaze, which is diverse. So we’re getting better with a brief review of the Yohji Yamamoto Fall 2021 Menswear Collection. The show was presented this week in a video format. 

In some sense the Japanese designer stays true to himself, giving preference to the black colour palette, loose cuts, and general rebellious spirit. Yet it’s important to remember that Yamamoto has based his brand’s philosophy on the Japanese principles of wabi-sabi, which are not inherent to the Western world of aesthetics. Wabi-sabi served as a leitmotif for the beloved deconstructivism, that’s another matter. But in the latest collection Yohji Yamamoto decided to go further, adding teenage aggression to the apparel, not to say, westernizing them. Hook-and-eye fastenings, defiant statements, belts with buckles, all these make us immediately think of renegades from the world of fashion like John Galliano or Vivienne Westwood. This is not to say that the designer has no right to experiment (it’s good to have him trying new things), however, in the current Yamamoto’s version that kind of rebel sounds not convincing enough. It’s like East meets West and everybody feels lost. However, for those preferring pretty bold mixtures and despising stereotypes, Yohji Yamamoto Fall 2021 Menswear Collection might be a decent match. 

F A S H I O N    P H O T O G R A P H Y 

Twice as fashionable: Rei Kawakubo’s looks in the images by Paulo Roversi at Dallas Contemporary 

Good news for those across the Atlantic: Dallas Contemporary has prepared a fantastic solo show by Paulo Roversi, Italian acclaimed visual artist. While Peter Doroshenko, Dallas Contemporary’s executive director, names Roversi the last of the great European fashion photographers’, his one-man exhibition at DC is unprecedented for the US museum world. It’s the 40-year-long creative relationship between the artist and fashion designer Rei Kawakubo that served as a concept for the show, which Doroshenko and Roversi discussed back in 2019. Although Paulo couldn’t visit Dallas Contemporary during the last year’s quarantine, the exhibition display was paid enough attention to, with video clips of the space being sent to Paris, to Roversi’s home for his approval. 

The show is titled ‘Birds’, which is meant to embody the sense of movement so inherent to Paulo Roversi’s photography. ‘His works evoke motion, be it through the camera moving or something smudged on the lens,’ says Doroshenko. Today when the freedom of our physical movement is much in question because of the pandemic, such a concept comes as a relief. The display features over 40 images of Rei Kawakubo’s outfits, both well-known and never disclosed before. Paulo Roversi refers to his collaboration with the Japanese fashion designer and founder of Comme des Garçons as a ‘new inspiring adventure’ and ‘good opportunity to show <his> work together with hers’. It’s worth mentioning that Dallas Contemporary focuses on different aspects of arts, including fashion. DC has already showcased such maitres de la photographie as Juergen Teller, Bruce Weber, Mario Testino, and Peter Lindbergh.  

P H O T O G R A P H Y 

Outcomes for 2020: ‘Favourite Books’ category by LensCulture 

Despite all odds, each of us had something to recall from 2020 with a smile on a face. If it isn’t about achievements and personal relations, at least, we all could enjoy reading at home, breaking away from computer screens. Choosing and, still less, recommending a book is a highly subjective matter, yet it’s nice to find out what your friend or someone you treat with respect can’t stop reading. The already familiar to you LensCulture questioned 36 people ‘who know and love photobooks’ on their favorite publications. Take a look and put on your watch list, if it’s not there yet. 

Among the respondents are artists, photo editors, curators, publishers, gallery directors, and other folks who have first-hand experience with the medium of photography. In some sense photobooks closely remind novels: they are meant to narrate stories, biographical, historical ones, or mediate experiences like personal diaries do. LensCulture Favourite Photobooks of 2020 digest features all sorts of visual editions, from the reissue of an incredibly important ‘Death in the Making’ by Robert Capa to a fresh and witty (so is the name of the publishing house) book by Olga Bushkova titled ‘How I Tried To Convince My Husband To Have Children’. Each of the critics comprehensively explain their choice, while websites of the publishing houses graciously showcase images from the books so that you can make sure you’re fond of it. 

On the cover: ‘Da Vinci of Debt’ installation by Natural Light at New York City’s Grand Central Terminal. Courtesy of Natural Light Beer company

Art Digest: January 11—17

By /ART/, /BLOG/, /NEWS/

Julia Kryshevich

Art Digest (December 14—20)

Yoo-hoo! We’ve barged into 2021, waking up from the New Year holidays nap. I hope you all had a great celebration and a powerful break, getting back to work with your batteries recharged. Who knows what this year holds? Rather than guessing, it’s better to be ready for action, changing the world for the better as far as we can. A few beautiful endeavors that took place on the rise of January might inspire you to move in the right direction. 

F A S H I O N 

Enjoy Emilio Pucci and Alberta Ferretti 2021 Pre-Fall collections 

No sooner had the year begun, that the world’s leading fashion houses jumped into battle. Discover pre-fall campaigns by Emilio Pucci and Alberta Ferretti by the break of the year. One might say, the two brands have something in common: apart from being Italian (obviously) and coming as early birds in 2021, Pucci and Ferretti traditionally emphasize genuine tenderness in their collections. The difference is that Pucci has celebrated girliness during the latest seasons, while Ferretti stays loyal to the concept of mature femininity.

Emilio Pucci models welcome 2021 dressed in a-la-harlequin jumpsuits with sleeves puffed, crop tops, and high-waisted pants, wearing sensual neck-wraps. The choice of colour comes as no surprise this time: pastel shades like rose, peach, gentle lilac, and cream are so in line with the brand’s identity. Alberta Ferretti rather focuses on complex looks, which seem perfectly complete. Overcoats and jackets above sweatshirts, long sleeves, straight slacks, fitted silhouettes — the garments are created for those who want to feel lady-like, no matter what the weather is. The colour palette is still soft, yet more vivid than in the colleague’s campaign: shades of moss, clay, almond, and caramel add ripeness to the look.

Australian agencies call to stop making models’ measurements public

Pursuing the very interesting topic of body positivity (to which we at Purplehaze devoted the entire print issue to be released in early March), here is the news that perfectly fills in the gap. Australian community of modeling agencies has called to stop publishing measurements of the mannequins in public profiles. New-Zealand N Management run by the veteran model Ngahuia Williams​ has already tried ceasing the practice, which they find irrelevant and stressful to date.

The initiative seems to have resonated with many representatives from the world of vogue. Fashion commentator and former editor of Fashion Quarterly Sally-Ann Mullinclaims including measurements is a common thing for the industry, which aspires models to fit a ‘cookie cutter standard of beauty’. Models have also welcomed the N Management’s statement, commenting they hoped agents would stop disclosing their data for all to see. However, the challenge that might occur is that the clients will have to require fittings, which might come as extra work for them. At the same time, removing online measurements can not only reduce pressure put on mannequins, but also contribute to a greater diversity representation. ‘No longer is it acceptable to showcase one type of beauty in any way,’ says Mullin, urging other modeling agencies to follow the N Management’s suit. 

A R T 

Actress Cate Blanchett to try her hand at art collecting 

It would be an exaggeration to say that Hollywood actress Cate Blanchett is far from the world of arts: the 2019 exhibition ‘Manifesto: Art x Agency’ and ‘The Four Temperaments‘ video installation (2020) with her participation is an excellent contrario reasoning. This is not to mention some of the films the actress starred in like The Aviator (2004), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), Blue Jasmine (2013), and Carol (2015), which may be deemed art themselves. Yet Cate Blanchett has no previous experience in gallery management. Well, a start of the year is a perfect time for new plans and ideas. 

Blanchett’s new gallery space is located at her remote estate in southeastern England, in the place where an oast house once stood. The future gallery visitors might enjoy the views, thanks to the gorgeous nature of East Sussex, which can be perfectly seen from the construction windows. As for the choice of the artists, the actress hit the ten ring here as well. Among others, her collection features works by Guan Wei, Paula Rego, Howard Hodgkin, Bill Hammond, Zhang Huan and Tim Maguire. The documentation for the newly-minted enterprise was ready in October, 2020. Looking forward to the gallery opening! Wish it would be as beautiful and successful as its owner’s career. 

Rihanna embellishes new cover of Essence Magazine shot by artist Lorna Simpson 

Essence Magazine wouldn’t dream of such a cover in its 50-year history. The January/February issue of the periodical features Barbados-born singer and businesswoman Rihanna both on its cover and inside, on the 12 pages of the portfolio. The shooting has been performed by Lorna Simpson, American photographer and multimedia artist who became famous in the 1980-1990s, primarily for her photo-text installations and collages. 

Essence works by Simpson consist of photos of Rihanna placed within the background of the source materials from the artist’s archive. Balancing between fantasy and photographic realism, they feature the legendary singer as she is (at least, in the eyes of the author) — graceful, charismatic, and extremely powerful. This collaboration is another part of the ongoing project by Lorna Simpson, which aims at reinterpreting images of Black women. Working with the celebrity, Simpson meets her self-interest, too — her daughter, Zora, who is an actress and a model, wrote an essay on that occasion expressing gratitude to Rihanna for the positive influence her art had on Simpson Jr. maturation. The essay is included in the Essence January/February issue as well. 

Soho after dark through the lens of photographer Joshua K. Jackson

Invigorated by the beginning of the new year, we still have to face some restrictions, to everyone’s great sadness. We still don’t feel safe enough to live our old lives, roaming aimlessly at the streets, seeing tons of people, and just hanging out in bars because… you know the reason. Yet there is a remedy — arts can rescue people from the blues filling their hearts with nice nostalgia (some types of arts, of course). 

British photographer Joshua K. Jackson focuses on capturing city life. Three years ago he started his Soho series photographing the fluorescent-lit streets of London after dark. ‘Sleepless in Soho’ (2020) is a photobook immortalizing the mood of how it feels like to be awake in the heart of the city past midnight. Alluring lights of the places, which make one think of romance, taboos, and just comfort, illuminate the maze of empty streets and lanes. Diurnal busy life tires London, but the second wind comes with the night. Jackson finished his project in December 2019, just before COVID-19 broke out. Like he knew we were going to miss that very soon. 

On the cover: ‘Sleepless in Soho’ (2020) by Joshua K. Jackson. Courtesy of the Artist

Art Digest: December 21—27

By /ART/, /BLOG/, /NEWS/

Julia Kryshevich

Art Digest (December 14—20)

Meet the last Art Digest for this year. Yes, sounds incredible, but next week will partially seize 2021. Traditionally leaving all difficulties and sorrows in the old year, let’s open ourselves to new experience — hopefully, it won’t knock us down in a blink (almost joking). And Merry Christmas to all! Joyful occasions leave behind good memories, so let’s celebrate. 

P H O T O G R A P H Y 

Discover ASAKUSA: photographs of Japanese tattoo artist’s works by Ronin de Goede

Horikazu from Tokyo Asakusa is considered a prolific horishi. If you didn’t get half of the sentence, here is a brief explanation.

Horikazu was a traditional tattoo master, who was active for 40 years of his life, which is enough to call oneself a professional carver or horishi. Starting off as an assistant of a grand tattoo master in Tokyo, Asakusa, he finally settled down in the district to found his own practice later. By the way, Asakusa is a low-city Tokyo location rich with ancient heritage, street culture spirit, and handicraft shops, just perfect for an artist working with his heart and hands.

So where was I? Ah, yes, Horikazu himself died in 2011, bequeathing the tattoo business to his son, Horikazuwaka. Meanwhile the most engaged photographers have come up with some photo series of Horikazu artistic heritage captured. It’s the Dutch photographer Ronin de Goede who has recently released a new chronicle of the master’s work. The ASAKUSA diary of some black and white images by de Goede exposes intimate tattoo sessions that Horikazu provided for his clients, oftentimes members of Yakuza gangs. While Yakuza is internationally recognized as a Mafia-like criminal organization, the status of tattoo in Japan has become more legal, but it remains a tabooed subject for the local society. That controversy certainly makes Ronin de Goede photographic archive alluring to explore and marvel at

F A S H I O N 

Bridal and ready-to-wear: meet new collection by Vera Wang 

Lightness of being, which is perfectly bearable, or a moveable feast…Vera Wang’s Spring 2021 Ready-To-Wear Collection breaks expectations of what a bridal gown should look like. With different parts of their bodies exposed and wrapped in multi layers, mannequins from the designer’s new collection feature black and white, minimalist and puffy, but invariably stylish garments. Within Spring 2021 Ready-To-Wear the brand took a chance to demonstrate all kinds of tailoring and embellishments its seamstresses are capable of. And beyond that, the collection turned out reflective, referring to different parts of Vera Wang’s personality, such as her ballet and figure skating background (e.g. bodysuits, leggings). 

Who doesn’t know Vera Wang. Born to a Chinese couple in the US in 1949, Wang (Wáng Wēiwēi, in Mandarin) prepared to be an ice skater. Taking part in national competitions and even starring for Sports Illustrated at the age of 19, she sought to enter the U.S. Olympic figure skating team. However, when the plan failed, Vera Wang decided to quit from sports, but didn’t say goodbye to grace. She obtained her Arts major at Sarah Lawrence College (Paris) and took the Senior Fashion Editor’s seat in Vogue for 17 years in a row. Sounds like a great career story, yet the real action started, when Wang switched from writing to making, opening her own bridal salon in New York in 1990. Since then, Vera Wang’s label has been winning over the hearts of fashion-conscious brides all over the world. 

‘Because I didn’t know anything about bridal fashion, so to speak, I think I was freer’ reflects Wang of her start in the field. Exploring her collections today, you can still feel the couturier’s easy touch and wish to experiment like a few decades back.

A R T 

Forbidden City’s Palace Museum to host a new exhibition by Cai Guo-Qiang

Artist Cai Guo-Qiang has recently returned to his native China after a long stint in the US, and here you go, a new solo show by him. The location is Forbidden City’s Palace Museum, Beijing, no less, which, by the way, hosts a one-man exhibition by a contemporary artist for the first time. Speaking of which, the Museum opened its doors to the public in 1925, encompassing a few hundreds years of the Forbidden City’s historical and cultural heritage. This year the Palace Museum celebrates the 600th anniversary of the City’s founding, well, with Guo-Qiang’s ‘Odyssey and Homecoming’ show.

Currently running virtually, Odyssey and Homecoming’ consists of five halls of paintings, video, and documentation by the famous Chinese artist and has all chances to go offline through its finissage after February 5, 2021. ‘Odyssey and Homecoming’ should be interesting, at least because it’s the exhibition where Cai Guo-Qiang examines an artistic language of the high-tech, quite new for him. Guo-Qiang describes VR as the means ‘to represent the surreal and the invisible’ and expresses his willingness to search for further ways of incorporating virtual reality into his works.

P E R S O N A L I T Y 

Tribute to model Stella Tennant: she has died at 50 

Legendary British model Stella Tennant, who conquered the imagination of such fashion luminaries as Karl Lagerfeld, Alexander McQueen and Gianni Versace, has died. She celebrated her 50th anniversary on December, 17, passing away a week later for reasons her family won’t disclose. Tennant managed to become the face of the British nation on the runway, as well as introduce androgyny to the world of haute couture. In her track record there are a few Model of the Year and Contribution to Fashion awards along with numerous editorials and advertising campaigns for brands like Dior, Valentino, Chanel, Hermès, Calvin Klein etc.  

By the way, though stunning, the career path of Stella Tennant was no way typical. I mean, the unusually looking girl of blue bloods (her grandfather, Andrew Cavendish, was the 11th Duke of Devonshire) wasn’t hanging around the streets in the hope of being spotted by a fashion scout. Neither did she specifically seek becoming a model. Stella Tennant was studying sculpture at the Winchester School of Art, when she suddenly decided to send her photographs to a high fashion magazine. It was Steven Meisel who first fell in love with the distinctive appearance of Tennant (with her boyish haircut, noble yet just ethereal face features, and nasal septum pierced) and invited her to pose for the cover of Italian Vogue. So it went boom. Working closely with Mario Testino, David Sims, and Tim Walker, she was baptized as Karl Lagerfeld’s muse, who immediately thought of Chanel looking at the model. Unconditionally, Stella Tennant represented an entire epoch in the history of the modeling industry. We shall always remember her, what she truly was, sophisticated, courageous, and authentic.

A R C H I T E C T U R E 

Floating like a butterfly: new residential apartment by 314 architecture studio

It’s Vouliagmeni, the seaside suburbia of Athens, Greece, where a new butterfly-shaped residential apartment is located. Proposed by the local 314 studio, the outstanding dwelling complex has 4 independent units, on the number of the insect’s wings. Each wing includes a basement and a top floor, where inhabitants can enjoy tremendous sea views of the resort. The walking distance from the sea is 5 minutes only. Besides, the outward extension of the units provides access to a peaceful garden area and artificial lakes.

Despite the solid walls, the ‘butterfly’ looks weightless and transparent. That’s because of the U-glass used to camouflage the inner construction and imbue the complex with natural light. While glossy U-glass shines in the sun, the white cement stucco chosen for the walls rather has a matte effect. That kind of contrast helped the 314 studio architects to emphasize particular elements of the ‘butterfly’, expertly exhibiting them like in a white-cube museum. 

B O N U S 

Designer Virgil Abloh gives interview to Dezeen

Did you know that Virgil Abloh, the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s men’s wear collection, the Off White founder, and just a great fashion designer, has an architectural background? He graduated from Illinois Institute of Technology with a Master’s in Architecture… to turn off on the fashion road. 

‘I don’t believe in disciplines. We can use our architecture brain and do many things, not just what we’re supposed to do’ the fashion designer claims. Discover the new Abloh’s collaboration with an architectural firm as well as his professional glance at the industry in his recent interview with Dezeen

On the cover: ASAKUSA by Ronin de Goede. Courtesy of the Artist

Art Digest (December 14—20)

By /ART/, /BLOG/, /NEWS/

Julia Kryshevich

Art Digest (December 14—20)

You know, aside from the tech field, I don’t think anything substantially new can be ever created. Ideas migrate from century to century, popping up in the most vivid minds — they lay low for a while and re-emerge in a slightly different form. However, this is not to say, the creative process has lost its virtue. Today we need creativity more than ever as long as it’s smart and transcendent. Under smart creativity I mean projects and initiatives aimed at finding decisions in some other untraditional way (a new holiday community by the Tehran bureau ZAV Architects might be a good example of that). Well, transcendent is about pushing the boundaries, mingling various fields, thus, coming up with a unique language. Dutch National Ballet in collaboration with fashion designer Iris Van Herpen seemed to have found one… Find out more on these and other ‘new old’ projects in this week’s Art Digest! 

D A N C E 

Iris Van Herpen x Dutch National Ballet present a stunning collaboration 

Fusing dance with haute couture, immersing the human body into the world of nature… That’s the way the new piece by Dutch National Ballet called Biomimicry looks and feels like. Just imagine the most exquisite dancer JingJing Mao (one of the Ballet grand sujets, by the way) swaying and balancing on the waves of ethereal music. Her body, so strong and vulnerable, is covered with translucent flying dresses that don’t only outline the dancer’s body curves and movements but also mimic the desert backdrop.

Instead of splashing words it’s better to see the film, though. Meanwhile, here is what you might like to hear about the Biomimicry collaboration. Since 2017 the Chinese-born JingJing Mao performs solo roles on stage of Dutch National Ballet. She joined the theatre in 2010, following her dancing practice in Beijing, which the dancer embarked on at the tender age of 9. JingJing’s piece for Biomimicry was staged by Juanjo Arqués, Dutch National Ballet choreographer and young creative associate. If you enjoyed the enveloping dichotomous sound, bear in mind the names of the composers — Thijs de Vlieger, member of Noisia electronic music collective, and Lavinia Meijer, Carnegie-Hall spotted harpist. Last but very important, it’s the Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen who created the looks for JingJing Mao’s lead. Invincible in merging haute couture with a high-tech approach, van Herpen loves foreshadowing the future (and she certainly knows how to mimic it).  


Discover new YSL SS 2021 collection by Anthony Vacarello 

Serving as the YSL creative director since 2016, Anthony Vaccarello never really tried to alter the brand’s course (why should he, if his precursor Hedi Slimane had revitalized Saint Laurent aesthetics enough crystallizing its very essence). Thus, the new YSL Spring 2021 Spring Ready-To-Wear collection rather comes as a small revelation. I mean, late Yves Saint Laurent enjoyed it all in the midst of his design career: flamboyance of colour, unexpected cuts, female sex appeal everything Vacarello has gently followed, including but not limited to. The new fashion show exposes another angle of the brand’s philosophy.

Models walking across the sands of a desert, which is never-ending like time or a dream. Heeled, most parts of their bodies covered (not exposed), black, sandy, ruby palette chosen, soft tangible fabrics. Sure, Yves would accept this 2021 vision, that’s just what the couturier meant, expressing his admiration for black colour or saying: ‘We must never confuse elegance with snobbery’. The YSL woman has been initially thought to be a bit of a chameleon: appealing for those whom she wants to seduce and self-contained for the others. Vaccarello managed to convey the idea, blending it with the zeitgeist. I wanted to speak to the comfort of the ’60s and to the comfort of today’ says the YSL creative director. And we can’t agree more, in times like these it feels ok to slow down a bit (even if you still try walking in high heels). 

P.S. Finding the courage to make a small guess, we see an homage to the person of Yves Saint Laurent in Vacarello’s campaign. While a sandy African desert in the frame refers to Yves’ childhood spent in Morocco, a title in the end of the film ‘I wish you were here’ tributes to the grand couturier himself.

A C T I V I S T   A R T 

Barbara Kruger upholds Polish pro-choice protests with her iconic artwork 

Sometimes the best thing an artwork can do is to tell the truth no matter how harsh it is. Indeed, it’s the most genuine function of art. The thriving activity of the American conceptual artist and feminist Barbara Kruger was mostly left in the past century, which, however, doesn’t prevent her from standing up for what’s right this day. The artist has recently entitled Polish activists to create 100 reproductions of her famous work ‘Untitled (Your body is a battleground)’ (1989) and spread them all over the town of Szczecin. 

Kruger’s gesture is meant to support women demonstrating against the new Polish legislation, which imposes severe limitations on female reproductive rights. A big wave of protests taking place in Warsaw and other Polish cities throughout November seemed to have insufficiently affected the authorities minds on this point, thus, it’s been time for an activist art back up. Initially ‘Untitled (Your body is a battleground)’ was created by Barbara Kruger for the pro-choice march, which occurred in Washington DC on April 9, 1989. Back in that year American feminists intended to sign off on the effect of 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that declared abortion legal. In the 90s the protests erupted in Europe (involving posters featuring Kruger’s work). Almost 2 decades later, the story is sadly repeating itself. Well, good news, old methods of combating are usually the best ones, and we can still rely on them. 

A R C H I T E C T U R E 

Coloured domes by ZAV Architects to host Hormuz tourists 

No doubt, architecture attracts tourists, sometimes, in the truest sense of the word. The Tehran-based architecture studio ZAV Architects helped to address the issue of high-priced tourist accommodation on the Iranian island of Hormuz. From now on, Hormuz guests can move into one of the 200 coloured domes overlooking the Persian Gulf. Designed and built by ZAV Architects, the spacial units vary in shape, shade, and size, yet conceptually merging into a single holiday isle community. 

The architectural studio defines the project as a cultural residence, and that rings so true. All placed in the neighborhood, some of the domes are interconnected through smart passages so that one could visit his friends, a café, and a reception desk just by taking a small stroll across the apartment. The accommodation by ZAV Architects outlines the coastal curve of Hormuz and echoes its mountainous terrain, let alone the joyful winking of the domes red, blue, green, and yellow bright shades to the island’s vivid palette.  

P H O T O G R A P H Y 

LensCulture Black & White Awards sums it up 

Many photographers admit, they enjoy shooting in black and white. Is it because of b&w images looking more presentable, concise, or even expensive? Whatever the reason is, black and white photography is certainly worth watching and admiring. LensCulture just hands you such an opportunity in the end of 2020, announcing winners within the monochrome category and showcasing their works.

This year LensCulture Black & White Awards has collected works from 120 countries, selecting 39 best photographers in different nominations. Ranging from some serious documentaries and reports to more casual yet highly introspective self-portraits and street shots, the winners’ works don’t necessarily keep their time reference (b&w can perfectly cover those tracks), however, all of them carry seduction and magic to be rediscovered many years from now. Just like Thea Traff, TIME jury has put it, it’s timeless quality, one of her favorite aspects of good black and white photography, that the contestants effectively achieved this time. All those recognized by the Awards will join the New York show, details of which will be available in the coming year.

On the cover: Hormuz holiday accommodation by ZAV Architects. Photo: Tahmineh Monzavi, Soroush Majidi, Payman Barkhordari / Dezeen

Art Digest (December 07—13)

By /ART/, /BLOG/, /NEWS/

Julia Kryshevich

Art Digest (December 07—13)

‘I don’t know whether the Earth is spinning or not. It depends on whether the word fits the line’ — wrote Russian poet Velimir Khlebnikov, a pioneer of the Futurist movement, in the far 1909. By the way, his lyrics were used as a leitmotif at the VII Moscow International Biennale of Young Art that I had recently pleasure to watch. We all might be feeling a bit confused and misled at the end of this bizarre year, so why not accept the things they are now and best benefit from them? Thus, for photographers there is still some time to send their visions of bread making until late December, while young fashion designers can apply for material help from Burberry. What’s awaiting us in the future? Well, looking at Pantone 2021 colors, something tells me, the better days are yet to come…

A R T 

A small collection of artwork prints for your home by Fine Art America 

If you feel like a wanna-be gallerist or a collector while roaming around art exhibitions, Fine Art America has something to offer you. Not so expensive, of decent quality and perfect taste. The Chicago-based company which both serves as an art marketplace and a print-in-demand bureau has recently announced a launch of a new series of artwork prints. The original works were published at different times in such distinguished magazines as Vogue, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair. 

Among the authors featured are fashion photographers Clifford Coffin and George Hoyningen-Huene, cartoonists Charles Barsotti and Bob Staake, painter Abigail Gray Swartz, and others. The artwork prints by Fine Art America are available in many formats including canvas, metal, acrylic, wood, and posters. Sounds like a nice present for Christmas for those who are in love with arts… No promo, really — just a small source of inspiration which needs to be shared. 

D E S I G N 

2021 Pantone Colors announced. Any suggestions? 

Pantone Color Institute is so far the world’s most recognized color lab. Forecasting global trends and advising companies on their brand visual identity, Pantone regularly comes up with new shades (which we have touched upon previously more than once). However, it’s the choice of the color of the year that makes the hearts of creatives beat faster. For the upcoming 2021 (fingers crossed, it will bring us a bit of luck) the Institute has announced its ambassadors: PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray + PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating.

Why exactly these? ‘The union of an enduring Ultimate Gray with the vibrant yellow Illuminating expresses a message of positivity supported by fortitude’ — explains Leatrice Eiseman, Pantone’s executive director. A powerful tandem, the two shades complement each other, however, they don’t necessarily go together in equal parts, the company claims. Now that you are armed with knowledge and inspiration, you can try it in practice exploring the colors of Ultimate Gray and Illuminating through various Facebook and Instagram filters. 

P.S. Interesting enough, the only time Pantone selected a couple of colors at once was in 2016. Well, strange times appeal to some bigger hopes.

A R C H I T E C T U R E 

Singing about art and silk: SCA presents a new theatre in Guangzhou 

Quite a bit yielding to Shanghai and Beijing on its tourist attractiveness, Guangzhou, China’s third largest city, was certainly built to impress — by its artistic heritage and architectural appearance. The unthinkably high Canton Tower, the Opera House designed by her majesty Zaha Hadid, and the Copper Coin building keep on thrilling the minds of some curious travelers for some years now. Yet another cultural gem has recently joined the list of Guangzhou wonders, which is a theatre resembling a silk embroidery

Can you imagine a scarlet regularly twisted building (something like a curved hair rubber band) all tattooed with symbolic images and patterns? Steven Chilton Architects (SCA) could. The other day, the architectural bureau passed the project of a 2000-seat-theatre based in the Northern part of the city, which will host its first visitors in the upcoming year. The design of the theatre both refers to Guangzhou’s silk heritage and the tattoo art aesthetics (artists of different kinds have always crawled the place). The outer envelope is defined by the 10 separate folds gently flowing one into another. Thanks to the superstructure of welded steel tubes, the building acquires its elevated position

F A S H I O N 

Burberry and British Fashion Council to support fashion students in need 

ReBurberry Fabric is probably the program all aspiring fashionistas have been waiting for so long. Especially those who had major financial difficulties during the lockdown. Burberry will hand over remains of its fabrics to the fashion students most in need. The BFC’s Institute of Positive Fashion and Colleges Council will take charge of the logistics and distributions. 

A couple of weeks ago we discussed how Burberry intended to cheer up its clients at the turn of the year with an uplifting campaign. Now it’s time the label supported the younger colleagues. ‘We look forward to seeing how donations can positively impact these academic institutions and students, and hope this is the beginning of a wider industry initiative to support these communities, now and in the future’Pam Betty, the brand’s VP, Corporate Responsibility, comments on the charitable initiative.

O P P S / P H O T O G R A P H Y

Art Factory Flox wants your insights on bread production 

What do you know about the bread? If to you it’s something bigger than just having a toast for breakfast and you have some time before December 31st, Art Factory Flox is waiting for your artist’s statement. The art space based in Kirschau, Germany expects the participating visuals to create a series of photographs of bread production at its various stages

Either in craft or in industrial environments, the manufacture of bread should be captured at 2—5 pictures in a 2-3 aspect ratio in RGB mode. A resolution of 300 dpi for the original image and a smaller one for the preview is required. Applying and taking part in the exhibition is free of charge, the deadline for submissions is the last day of 2020. As for the organizer, Art Factory Flox is part of Flox galleries located in Kirschau and Dresden. Following the motto Contemporary art away from the metropolises but right in the middle of the world’, the Kirschau-based space started representing artworks in the industrial area of an old textile factory in 2013. Now the coverage area has been extended to some other urban and rural locations, to engage more actors into dialogue.

On the cover: Guangzhou theatre. Photo: Chong-art photography

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Art Digest: November 30—December 06

By /ART/, /NEWS/

Julia Kryshevich

Art Digest: November 30—December 06

What is beauty? The question sounds pretty obvious and, yet, immense, so many possible meanings it embodies. It’s the same as asking what life is or what art is (Oscar Wilde used to equate the both). This week we’re looking for an answer together with fashion designers Pierpaolo Piccioli (Maison Valentino), JW Anderson, models Zendaya and Ellie Goldstein, and an art photographer Uldus Bakhtiozina. In case you get a bit oversaturated with speculation, there is a piece of amusing news on a ‘Project Runway’ participant christened a visionary on the Web for his last year’s collection. Let’s get it started!

C I N E M A / A R T 

Fisherman’s daughter, surreal fairytale by art photographer 

St. Petersburg-based art and fashion photographer Uldus Bakhtiozina has presented a new film Fisherman’s daughter’, where she acted as a director, a producer and a script writer at once. In 2017 and 2018 she tried her hand in filmmaking, coming up with a couple of shorts. This time it has been serious. ‘Fisherman’s daughter’ is a 70-minute-long movie, which has officially come out in a few Moscow cinemas. Though there is no news on international premiere yet, an enthralling teaser is something. 

To cut a long story short, Uldus Bakhtiozina’s work is about the hard way of archetypal femininity in the world of invincible bureaucracy. A young girl Polina Schukina who wants to get away from earthly woes enters the fairytale (not that easy, of course, but with the help of a magical tea) and finds herself… in a nightmare. To become a real tsarevna (Russian for ‘princess’) she needs to wait in a line, go through trials, and just prove she is the best to a cynical secretary who has seen girls like that a hundred times. ‘Fisherman’s daughter’ is a surreal fairytale closely connected with the realities of life. A perfect visual story with a soft touch of humor, it makes one reflect on the price of ethereal illusions

F A S H I O N 

Designer named Kovid foresaw the popularity of facial masks even before the pandemic 

Laughter and sin. A year ago we had a hidden warning of what 2020 was going to be for all of us. If only we could read that! Setting aside pathos, let’s take a closer look at the story. Season 17 of the famous fashion design show ‘Project Runway’, 2019. The jury introduces a new challenge to the contestants, which is to create a head-to-toe printed look. No sooner said than done. One of the designers whose name is Kovid Kapoor presented a red plaid suit… accompanying a facial mask. Yes, it’s the real name of the designer (Sanskrit for ‘intelligent/poet’). No, he claims having had no idea about the upcoming pandemic. 

The show fans had occasionally posted ‘revealing’ tweets about the coincidence, until ‘Project Runway’ host Karlie Kloss finally saw it. As for the ‘man of the hour’, Kovid Kapoor, he seems to be taking it easy. His response to the audience claims on Twitter and TikTok are crying-laughing emojis. He has also given a comment to Huffington Post, where he expressed his gratitude to the project and told about the most bizarre guesses people would make about his ‘prophetic’ suit design. By the way, Kapoor is launching his debut collection in February 2021. Interesting enough, what implications it may hide… 

Actress Zendaya becomes the face of Valentino 

Maison Valentino chose the 24-year-old actress and singer Zendaya Coleman to represent the brand. After showcasing his SS 2021 ready-to-wear collection at Milan Fashion Week, Pierpaolo Piccioli, Valentino’s creative director, decided to alter the course focusing on the general perception of the Maison in the audience. As you can guess, the easiest way to work upon the label’s image is to think upon the new means of its representation, such as inviting a new face.  

 ‘She is a powerful and fierce young woman that uses her talent and her work to express herself, her values and her generation as well’, explains Piccioli his choice of Zendaya.

Zendaya Coleman who is famous for her roles in the Spider-Man sequel as well as the HBO drama series Euphoria is no stranger to the world of haute couture. She has been ambassador for Lancôme and Bulgari, let alone her collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger in 2019. Young, bright, and talented, the actress revitalizes the brand’s image in her coming and establishes a new Valentino’s epoch to be named romantismo nuovo. Regular shapes, golden studs, pointy toes, black’n’white colors, the newly-minted Diary Collection 2021 inspired by Roman architecture features Zendaya and is already on view

18-year-old disabled model appears on Allure cover

Essex-born Ellie Goldstein is 18, and she has a Down syndrome. However, that doesn’t prevent the girl neither from enjoying her life, nor from following her goals. And the goals are big: Ellie wants to be famous. In fact, she already is (to some extent): e.g. this summer she appeared in Gucci Beauty Instagram campaign in partnership with Vogue Italia, earlier she partnered with Nike and Vodafone

It all started when Ellie’s mother, Yvonne, took the girl to Zebedee Management talent agency, just before her 15th anniversary. Zebedee Management works with disabled people, performers and models, granting them good opportunities in the world outside. Thus, the agency gladly accepted Goldstein and helped her to set a modeling career. Recently Ellie Goldstein has gone on a digital cover of Allure, which is a part of The Beauty of Accessibility, a special series on inclusivity launched by the magazine. Though the idea of featuring disabled models in vogue campaigns doesn’t always find support within society, lots of people understand and appreciate that. The messages like ‘She has to have one of the sweetest faces I’ve ever seen’ and ‘As a handicapped person, I’m so happy someone is finally representing us’ are among the comments on Ellie’s debut in Allure

New JW Anderson capsule collection alludes to Oscar Wilde 

Jonathan Anderson has recently launched a new capsule collection, seeking inspiration in the works and personality of the late Victorian author Oscar Wilde. Not only JW Anderson and Wilde have the same North Irish roots, they also share similar aesthetics, which hasn’t been left unnoticed by the brand. It all started with Anderson having discovered a piece of paper signed by Wilde and citing: ‘The secret of life is in art’. 

That’s how the ball has been set rolling. The new JW Anderson x Oscar Wilde collection features cropped crochet jumpers, T-shirts, sweatshirts, elongated button-up shirts, let alone jewelry, hats, and bags. All the items from the collection have any references to Wilde’s heritage, such as quotes, flower patterns, and expressive collars. Available exclusively on JW Anderson’s website and in the flagship London store (as soon as UK lockdown measures are eased). 

JW Anderson x Oscar Wilde capsule collection. Courtesy of JW Anderson

JW Anderson x Oscar Wilde capsule collection. Courtesy of JW Anderson

JW Anderson x Oscar Wilde capsule collection. Courtesy of JW Anderson

On the cover: from ‘Fisherman’s daughter’ film by Uldus Bakhtiozina. Courtesy of Reflection Films

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Art Digest: November 23—29

By /ART/, /NEWS/

Julia Kryshevich

Art Digest: November 23—29

The law of conservation of energy is universal. Nothing disappears without the trace, nothing perishes eternally. A decision to step back from the industry or the position might come as the end of one road… and the beginning of the other. Feeling open to new experience, new people, and new ideas is essential for keeping artistically fit and just happy. The same I wish to you. Follow the example of the recent Art Digest’s characters and get creative wherever you go. 

A R T &  F A S H I O N   ( C O L L A B ) 

Kenny Scharf breathes street spirit into Dior Homme new collection 

Taking the position of Dior Homme’s creative director for 2 years, Kim Jones has engaged the brand into a number of interesting collaborations, such as those with a designer and a graffiti writer Kaws, a sculptor Daniel Arsham, and an illustrator Hajime Sorayama.

The creative tradition should certainly be continued, this time with the name of Kenny Scharf, American street artist, arriving on the list. On December 8 check the brand’s website to discover the new pre-fall Dior x Kenny Scharf menswear line (no official opening, alas, due to the COVID-19 restrictions).  

The history of the East Village scene, NY’s art community, flourishing in the 80s, would be incomplete without a reference to Kenny Scharf’s figure. Rubbing shoulders with Andy Warhol, Julian Schnabel, Keith Haring, and Jean-Michel Basquiat (and being close friends with the latter two), he contributed to the evolution of New York’s artistic landscape in the 80s, making it more informal and figurative. Kenny Scharf is primarily recognized for his large-scale paintings of anthropomorphic fantastic animals as well the characters of the generally beloved animated sitcoms such as ‘Flintstones’ (premiered in 1960) and ‘Jetsons’ (initially aired in 1962). Unlike the majority of his East Village colleagues, Kenny Scharf is still alive and kicking (read: artistically active) at the age of 62. Learn more about his personality and great life experience from the interview with Dan Golden.

F A S H I O N 

Halima Aden steps back from fashion because of her religious beliefs 

Remember us discussing Halima Aden’s appointment to Diversity Editor-at-Large in Vogue Arabia in June? Things are getting even more interesting: half a year after winning the prestigious position (tailor-made for her) and a few years of successful work in fashion under her belt, the 23-year-old model reports leaving the industry.  Somali-American Halima Aden claims feeling the need to compromise her religious beliefs while taking part in shows and shootings, which she had never found the right thing to do. Yet the revelation came during the times of the pandemic, Aden wrote on her Instagram

Halima Aden was the first hijab-wearing woman to have conquered the fashion world, appearing on runway as well as on the covers of Vogue, Allure, Sports Illustrated etc. Spotted by international modelling agency IMG Models at 18, she took off quickly, however, it seemed to have had a price. Though recording her right to stay hijabed in the working contracts, Halima Aden had to compromise her demands: e.g. while wearing a denim band for American Eagle’s campaign or having a wrap with feathers around her neck at the shoot for Glamour (2017). Indeed, Aden hasn’t completely retired from fashion — she is open to working proposals, the ‘proper’ ones. 

P H O T O G R A P H Y 

Meet true erotic feminism in the new book by Alexandra Leese 

Capturing female nudes is not the destiny of the male gaze alone. UK-based photographer Alexandra Leese felt bored during the early weeks of the first lockdown and started off with a new invigorating project. First she tried posing for the web camera herself. No, in the way girls usually do it, explicitly seeking the attention of a viewer but just the way she liked. Later she would make video calls with different women from all over the world taking portraits of them either with her 35mm Leica or Polaroid camera. 

During the period between April and October, Alexandra Leese created about 43 nude portrait shoots, all of which plus her self-image were included in her latest Me + Mine photobook. Actually, Leese’s models could recall their photographs (the idea was to do things voluntarily), but noone did that. The book printed by Push Print in London is already available for pre-order

P.S. Buy one of the Me + Mine 350 copies and donate money to charity — all profits will be transferred to such NGOs, as the Black Trans Femme in the Arts Collective, the Trans Law Center, and the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre

A R T 

Curator Fatos Üstek not director of Liverpool Biennial anymore 

It was October that Turkish-born art curator Fatos Üstek left her position as director of the Liverpool Biennial with two board members resigning in support of her. Yet it has been officially claimed the other day. Being on the job for 1,5 years, Üstek departed some 3 months before the opening of the biennial in 2021, which initially had to take place from July to October 2020 but was postponed due to the pandemic. 

Such an expected departure and late announcement has to do with an internal disagreement between Üstek and the board of trustees, namely, over the scope of the former’s role within the biennial. Fatos Üstek reports feeling sad about not being able to continue leading the amazing Biennial team and shares her excitement with the dynamic city of Liverpool and gratitude for the support of her colleagues. Meanwhile Samantha Lackey, head of collections and exhibitions at Whitworth Art Gallery (Manchester, UK), has taken the position as the biennial’s interim director.

O P P O R T U N I T I E S 

Share your dreams… for research purposes

If you are London-based or, at least, have been staying in the UK’s capital during the pandemic and you have dreams at night, this opp may interest you. The Museum of London and Canada’s Museum of Dreams have joined their forces to explore the mysterious and immersive process of night dreaming. 

The research project ‘Guardians of Sleep’ (named after the definition coined by British artist Lucian Freud) is to be launched in February 2021. Indeed, the organizers are looking for participants right away. Sharing what you have seen at night during the recent months might contribute to a proper understanding of dream life as a mechanism for working through social conflict and how the pandemic has affected the human condition, the museums’ representatives claim. Dreams of the chosen participants (the most pertinent ones) will get into permanent archives of the institutions, which will become clear during the discussion with a psychosocial scholar. 

Interested? Email at to learn more and get involved.  

On the cover: Kuku, China (00:15:11). Photo: Alexandra Leese

“CURVES ‘n’ FORMS” Collage Group Exhibition

“CURVES ‘n’ FORMS” Collage Group Exhibition
Collage Group Exhibition, 2020
03 – 17 December 2020
Curated by Irina Rusinovich
Coordinated by Liubow Melnikowa
Collage describes both the technique and the resulting work of art in which pieces of paper, photographs, fabric and other ephemera are arranged and stuck down onto a supporting surface.
The first artist to work exclusively in collage technique was Kurt Schwitters, who continues the traditions of the Surrealists and Dadaists. He expanded the scope of materials and objects used for collage. His small, but very sophisticated compositional works consisted of pieces of paper, bus tickets, labels, coupons. In about 1912–13 Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque extended this technique, combining fragments of paper, wood, linoleum, and newspapers with oil paint on canvas to form subtle and interesting abstract or semiabstract compositions. The development of the collage by Picasso and Braque contributed largely to the transition from Analytical to Synthetic Cubism.
“Collage allows the opening up of conscious, which is very direct…its also a way of looking at what you are consuming all the time” – John Stezaker
In search for new forms and discoveries there were many interesting events, experimenters in the history of collage. In our time, digital collage and collage-photomontage are firmly entrenched. The boundaries of these concepts are practically erased when manipulating an image with the help of computer programs. Nevertheless, an analog collage, the one made of scraps of tickets, wrappers, newspapers, advertisements and magazines, remains accessible to a wider circle of people and depends on the imagination of the author himself, on the desire to do something unusual and surreal, perhaps funny, philosophical and metamorphic.
HAZEGALLERY is happy to represent its new group exhibition “CURVES ‘n’ FORMS” which is devoted to collage art only.

Art Digest (November 16—22)

By /ART/, /BLOG/, /NEWS/

Julia Kryshevich

Art Digest (November 16—22)

Terms like ‘sustainability’, ‘recyclable materials’ are trending today, inter alia, and especially in the field of fashion, but what’s behind those beautiful words? Dow Jones Sustainability Index annually names clothing brands who call themselves eco-friendly not in vain. Sometimes it takes time to change the policy of the company or personal attitudes and habits, but it’s certainly worth it. Actually, waiting can sometimes be a good thing. Just look at the Moncler ex-creative director Alber Elbaz who took a five-year gap before launching his own brand. Or the King of pop art Andy Warhol who failed to publish some of his most tempting early works in life but his followers did it for him. Change for the better is yet to come, just pave your way and keep moving, albeit slowly.

F A S H I O N 

The eco-friendliest from fashion: Dow Jones Sustainability Index marks Moncler

In case you didn’t know, Dow Jones Sustainability Index is a group of benchmarks for investors evaluating the stock performance of the leading companies on the market. Considering economic, environmental and social responsibility criteria, DJSI annually comes up with the rating of the ‘very best’ manufacturers in various sectors. The Italian luxury fashion brand Moncler famous for its ski wear was recently conferred the leading position in the category ‘Textile, Apparel & Luxury Goods’ of the DJSI rating. And you know what’s best? Moncler has been the leader already for 2 years running.

While Moncler’s CEO Remo Ruffini solemnly claims, sustainability is an increasingly strategic asset in the development of the company (and there is hardly any room for doubt with the Moncler’s ‘Born to Protect’ new sustainability plan), some other fashion brands seem to have lagged far behind. The non-profit organization Remake didn’t include H&M and Uniqlo in its sustainability ranking, as the both brands have failed to score at least 50 out of the 100 points required. 

Alber Elbaz is back to big fashion (not empty-handed, of course) 

Casablanca-born fashion designer Alber Elbaz (b. 1961) is no stranger to the world of haute couture. After taking positions at a few fashion houses, he finally joined Lanvin as the brand’s creative director in 2001. 14 years later Elbaz announced his exit from the company, which was officially associated with the disagreement between the designer and Lanvin’s major shareholder, Shaw-Lan Wang. Meanwhile Alber Elbaz didn’t waste his time giving lectures all over the world and working independently, also as an artist.

A year ago the designer expressed his determination to return to the game planning to found his own brand. Initially to be named as AZ Fashion, Elbaz’s brainchild has been recently launched, five years after Alber Elbaz left Lanvin. The newly-minted AZ Factory falls under the portfolio of the Swiss Compagnie Financière Richemont, with the first collection by the brand being presented at the upcoming Paris Fashion Week in January. According to Alber Elbaz, AZ Factory is not a revolution, not an evolution, (but) a reset. The designer sees his mission in combining function and fashion and helping people to be a better version of themselves, by no means trying to transform his customers.

A R T 

Visiting Noguchi Museum? Buy a print by Futura and Murakami 

Remember us talking about the graffiti artist Futura aka FUTURA 2000 at the previous digest? He has recently engaged in cooperation with the late sculptor Isamu Noguchi at the NY-based Noguchi Museum, which resulted in the ‘Futura Akari’ exhibition (on view through February 28, 2021). To commemorate and promote the show, the museum launched a series of print editions designed by FUTURA 2000 and Takashi Murakami. Nothing to expect here but a win-to-win collaboration.

In August 2020 Futura was to have his solo show at Kaikai Kiki Gallery (Tokyo, Japan) founded by Takashi Murakami himself to showcase the artists chosen. However, the pandemic interfered with the plans adjourning the exhibition until summer 2021. In the meantime, Futura and Takashi are, so to speak, shaking hands under the roof of the Noguchi Museum symbolizing the cultural dialogue between Japan and the US and selling off their prints. The rule is one (printed edition) per person, otherwise, the release is fairly available to the museum’s customers. 

Andy Warhol’s intimate drawings released for the first time 

At a time when Andy Warhol or, to be more precise, Andrew Warhola was conquering the New York’s art scene while still a young shy man, he barely regarded his interim drawings as serious art. Trying to sell some of his sketches to glossies, Andy scribbled for the soul, depicting the subjects of his inspiration. Oftentimes Warhol would get the attention on young nude men as if he had seen many in the rise of his career. Naked, aroused, engaged in sexual acts such as fellatio or masturbation, the characters of Warhol’s early works embody a highly tabooed theme even for such a fast-paced environment as New York’s society in the 50s.  

Despite all fears, the future King of Pop Art dared to show his exposed images to Bodley Gallery, one of the premier art galleries in the Big Apple in 1956, but he never got to publish the drawings in a monograph. Today 33 years after Andy Warhol’s death, the world-famous German publisher Taschen showcases 300 of the artist’s bold sketches selected by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. The collection is published on the pages of ‘Andy Warhol, Love, Sex and Desire, Drawings 1950-1962 book, which is released in a limited number of 7,500. Order one of the numbered copies now, on the publisher’s website.

P H O T O G R A P H Y 

Foam Talent 2020 goes digital (now you can discover the winners) 

It’s the end of 2020, and that means Foam traditionally announces this year winners of Foam Talent. Visual artists under the age of 35 selected by the Amsterdam-based photography organization are annually granted with such worthy prizes as a publication in Foam Magazine, participation in a travelling group exhibition and a chance to have their works added to Art Collection Deutsche Börse.

Since Foam Talent 2020 can’t reach the planned locations like Paris and London to organize the winner’s show, the entire initiative moved digital without any difficulty. Among the 19 winners of the year there are aspiring photographers from Nigeria, Brazil, Italy, France, Switzerland, Canada, US, China, Thailand, Greece, and other countries. Enter the platform to discover all the works or, at least, enjoy our brief selection above. 

On the cover: ‘Stay Soft’ by Micha Serraf (Zimbabwe). Courtesy of Foam Talent

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