Balenciaga joins Spain’s classical art at Thyssen-Bornemisza museum in Madrid

Balenciaga joins Spain’s classical art at Thyssen-Bornemisza museum in Madrid

The exhibition unites several artworks by Cristóbal Balenciaga with the source of his inspiration, paintings made by famous Spanish artists.

Fashion historians refer to the 1940s and 1950s as “The Balenciaga Age”. Despite the fact that Balenciaga house has always strayed away from the rules set by the French Federation of Fashion and could not technically be considered an ‘haute couture’ house many of their colleagues deemed Don Cristóbal ‘the king of fashion’. He dressed Spanish and Belgian monarchs, Grace Kelly, and Bessie Wallis Simpson. Throughout mid-XX century he set the trends some of which have not gone out of style to this day: long and thin dress silhouettes, barrel-shaped dresses, square shoulders, open-shoulder clothes, hooded jackets, semi-coats, and sack dresses. Whatever señor Balenciaga had in mind he always turned to Spain’s culture. The designer graced post-war Europe with simple silhouettes and meticulously crafted looks. Matador suits turned into bolero. Festive velvet dresses of the Hapsburgs inspired the designer to create fascinating embroidery. Flamenco skirts turned into dresses that seemed to have captured the movement of the dance. The Pope’s cowl turned into formal evening floor-grazing dresses.

«Баленсиага и испанская живопись» в музее Тиссена-Борнемисы в Мадриде

The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum partnered with Ruta de la Moda and Las Rozas Village made a temporary exhibition dedicated to Cristóbal Balenciaga. The curator Eloy Martínez de la Pera had the idea of showcasing the relation between the designer’s ideas and Spanish painting traditions of XVI- XX centuries. Every sculpted dress made of signature thick fabric stands in front of paintings by the great El Greco, Rodrigo de Villandrano, Bartolomé Murillo, Gabriel de la Corte, and others. Original paintings have been borrowed from Prado museum, the Bilbao Fine Arts Mueseum, and private collections of Balenciaga’s former customers. The exhibition is designed like a chronological review to underline the interrelated development of fashion trends and art. The exhibition contains around 100 clothing items borrowed from museums and private collections and around 60 painting masterpieces. Both the models and the backdrops pay homage to black, one of Balenciaga’s iconic colours. Even throughout the most avant-garde times the designer took inspiration from Spain’s classic fabrics and close-cut lines and revisited the styles of various art periods.

One of the most striking pairs is Ignacio Suloaga’s portrait of Doña María del Rosario de Silva y Gurtubay, the 17th Duchess of Alba, and the crimson taffeta dress reminiscent of Flamenco colours and energy. Another memorable composition is formed by El Greco’s ‘The Annunciation’ and a silk organza dress of an outstandingly powerful shade of yellow.

The exhibition is open at the Thyssen-Bornemisz Museum till September 22, 2019.

Those who decide to stay in Moscow this summer will be able to witness a modern art exhibition arranged by Fondation Louis Vuitton and see classical art’s influence on modern-day culture.

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