“Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity” by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and Musée d’Orsay, Paris
By: Lane Rasberry Das, SouBoyy Bureau, New York | Arts & Fashion
The Met is currently hosting an exhibit called “Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity“. The theme is the influence of technology on fashion during the time of Impressionism. The exhibit teaches about the influence of technology by showing fashionable clothing of the time, paintings which depict the same, and explaining both with stories and ephemera.
One of the major innovations of the time was automated weaving with the power loom, which made ready-to-wear fashion available to the general public whereas previously all clothing would have been bespoke. I cannot say anything about the fashion but apparently people at the Met know and have documented how French fashion changed every few years in the 1800s.
The show asserts that artists would paint the latest fashions, and this does not surprise me, but with the fashion from a century ago being so far removed from me I have never known what to make of the clothes in paintings from the period as I would not know what the fashion was communicating.
Alongside the art and clothing, on display are contemporary media like advertisements, catalogs, and consumer information materials for care of the clothing. Since beginning work at Consumer Reports a year ago, I have been thinking more about the nature of advertisements, and this show emphasized to me that when products are mass produced then they also need mass produced advertisements to market them, and without mass production there is much less advertising.
I suppose that many of the paintings of the times were sort of advertisements themselves, and I can imagine that painters would be persuaded to chose a model in certain clothes over others just in the same way that the fashion industry courts all media channels now.
Refashioning Figure Painting
En Plein Air
Galleries Three and Four
The White Dress and the Black Dress
The Dictates of Style
Frocks Coats and Fashion: The Urban Male
Spaces of Modern Life
The exhibition is made possible in part by The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, the Janice H. Levin Fund, and the William Randolph Hearst Foundation. Additional support is provided by Renée Belfer. The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. The exhibition was organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Musée d’Orsay, Paris.
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