Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Yves Saint Laurent Retrospective at the Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal

Yves Saint Laurent Evening dress inspired by Matisse 
There are countless examples of artists and fashion designers who have looked to each other for inspiration in their work. In the recent Yves Saint Laurent retrospective at the Musee des Beaux Arts in Montreal, there was an entire room of garments that referenced artwork from artists including Matisse, Van Gogh, Renoir, and Mondrian. The gown in the top photo is a beautiful example of how Yves Saint Laurent reinterpreted the artist Matisse's cut-out artworks in garment form.

The exhibit was enchanting. I marveled at the elegance and originality of his designs on the approximately one hundred outfits on display. Most designs were timeless and difficult to attribute to a particular year, especially since YSL revisited his favourite sources of inspiration again and again.

This sketch of a cocoon-like wedding outfit made of hand-knit white wool tricot with silk satin ribbons was one of the most unusual outfits on display. Imagine how avant-gard this outfit would have been in 1965. It made me wonder if Viktor and Rolf were inspired by this outfit in creating their Russian doll collection for autumn/winter 1999-2000.

Yves Saint Laurent Wedding Gown 1999
This daring flora inspired wedding gown made of silk flowers with a pink silk organza train was spectacular! From the 1999 collection, this design was the incarnation of the mythological bride, the goddess Flora or Botticelli's Venus.

I left the exhibtion in awe of Yves Saint Laurent's tremendous talent and originality. He looked to many different sources for inspiration in his work including:
- other cultures (Africa, Spain, China, Morocco, Japan, India, Russia)
- other artists (Picasso, Matisse, Mondrian, Shakespeare, Appollinaire)
- other themes (glamour, silouette, masculine/feminine, flora/fauna, geometry, history)

Looking for sources of inspiration is something that I really understand as an artist. It was interesting for me to see how he interpreted and revisited these themes in his work over the course of a career spanning 40 plus years.

This exhibition continues at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts until September 28, 2008 and then will travel to the Fine Art Museum of San Francisco (November 1, 2008 to March 1, 2009).

Yves Saint Laurent Retrospective (until September 28, 2008)
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
1380 Sherbrooke Ouest, Monteal
514-285-2000, 1-800-899-MUSE

San Francisco Museum of Fine Art, November 1, 2008 to March 1, 2009