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Molly Sorkin

Spanish fashion designer, active in Paris. Based in Paris from 1937 to 1968, Balenciaga was a modernist couturier whose designs ranged from the austere to the romantic. His uncompromising vision was defined by his quest for perfection in cut, proportion and construction. Influenced in part by the historical art and culture of his native Spain, Balenciaga’s style was often ahead of its time even as it slowly evolved over more than 40 years. Balenciaga dressed an élite group of women who understood and appreciated how his designs took shape on the body (...

Article

Bauhaus  

Rainer K. Wick

German school of art, design and architecture, founded by Walter Gropius. It was active in Weimar from 1919 to 1925, in Dessau from 1925 to 1932 and in Berlin from 1932 to 1933, when it was closed down by the Nazi authorities. The Bauhaus’s name referred to the medieval Bauhütten or ...

Article

Melissa Marra

American fashion designer. A modernist, Beene’s inventive geometric cuts and in-depth understanding of the human body made him one of the most innovative designers of the 20th century.

In deference to a family tradition, Beene enrolled as a pre-med student at Tulane University in 1943...

Article

Lourdes Font

French fashion designer (see fig.). Chanel was one of the most influential fashion designers of the 20th century. Of the modernists who dominated the inter-war period, only Chanel was still active through the 1960s. She began her career as a milliner c. 1909...

Article

Halston  

Cassandra Gero

American milliner and fashion designer. In the early 1970s, Halston represented modernism in fashion design (see fig.). He was known for the high quality of his clothes as well as his celebrity clientele and chic lifestyle.

Halston grew up in Des Moines, IA, where, by age seven he had shown an interest in designing hats. (He once made his mother a red felt hat decorated with a gold pot-scrubber sponge.) Later, while attending the Chicago Art Institute, he worked as a window dresser for the Carson Pirie department store and at night created hats in his apartment. He peddled his wares at the Ambassador Hotel beauty salon and acquired a following that included the actresses Fran Allison, Gloria Swanson and Kim Novak. Halston became so well known that when famed milliner ...

Article

Rebecca Arnold

Venezuelan fashion designer, active also in the USA (see fig.). While Herrera’s designs always contain elements of current fashion, her work is more about the cultivation of a sleek international style that is classically feminine. Her upbringing amongst the élite, leisured classes of South America encouraged her to view clothing as a visual expression of good taste and ease. Rather than following trends, her designs tend to favour clean lines, with a focus on detail....

Article

Latvian, 20th century, female.

Born 23 August 1908, in Riga, Russian Empire (now Latvia); died 21 December 1983, in Riga, Latvian SSR (now Latvia).

Painter, sculptor, tapestry designer. Still-life, portrait, celestial, and abstract subjects, assemblages.

Zenta Logina survived decades of material adversity, official hostility, and professional obscurity to produce one of Latvian art’s most stylistically diverse, technically inventive, and intellectually ambitious bodies of work. Like many Latvian artists of her generation, Logina spent World War I as a refugee in the Russian interior, returning to a newly independent nation consciously fashioning its modern cultural identity. In ...

Article

Nele Bernheim

The term ‘Modernism’ is widely used, but rarely defined, to mean artistic currents responding to the social conditions of Modernity. While such applications occur in all the arts, fashion relates to these conditions in a particularly intimate way. In 1863 Charles Baudelaire defined modernity as ‘the ephemeral, the fugitive, the contingent, the half of art whose other half is the eternal and the immutable’. Few creations are as ephemeral and fugitive as a fashion intended to last a single season, and yet fashion itself is constant. Thus fashion design, one of the most intrinsically ephemeral of artistic practices, could be considered a quintessentially modern art. Further, the emergence of social modernity in cities such as Paris in the mid-19th century was accompanied by the development of the structure of the modern fashion industry. The ...

Article

Peg Weiss

Swiss artist, craftsman and teacher. After studying science and medicine at the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg (1885–7), he travelled in England and Scotland in 1887. There the Arts and Crafts Movement influenced his decision to turn his attentions to the applied arts. Following brief studies at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Karlsruhe and an apprenticeship as a potter, his ceramics and furniture won gold medals at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in ...

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Paula J. Birnbaum

American conceptual artist. Reichek earned a BFA from Yale University and a BA from Brooklyn College, where she studied painting with Ad Reinhardt. Well versed in the traditions of modernist painting, Reichek began critiquing those traditions in the 1970s by making art using the vehicles of embroidery, knitting, and weaving. She then engaged in a range of large-scale installation projects that retool domestic media and formats to analyse the patriarchal and modernist assumptions of American culture. In her series of samplers, including ...

Article

Donna Corbin

German designer, architect and painter. The son of a textile manufacturer, he studied painting at the Staatliche Kunstakademie in Munich (1888–90); he painted primarily at the beginning and end of his career, and he was a member of the Munich Secession. In 1895...

Article

Brazilian, 20th century, male.

Born 1880, in Paris, to Brazilian parents; died 17 October 1980, in Cap d'Antibes (Alpes-Maritimes), France.

Painter. Designs for carpets.

Art Deco.

Ivan da Silva-Bruhns settled very young in France. He studied medicine and then became a painter. He knew Maurice Denis, Paul Signac and Jacques Villon. In ...

Article

Italian, 20th century, male.

Born 1878, in Murano (Venice); died 1947, in Venice.

Painter, tapestry maker, embroiderer, glassmaker, designer. Decorative panels, designs for mosaics.

Symbolism, Art Nouveau.

Vittorio Zecchin ran a tapestry and embroidery workshop before becoming artistic director of the glassworks founded by Cappellin and Venini. Zecchin's painting is close to the decorative approach of Art Nouveau, particularly as seen in the work of Klimt. Naturally figurative in style, it is very crowded and divided into numerous highly ornate planes, making use of both smooth monochromes and rich contrasting colours. The general overall impression is of a pronounced tendency towards orientalism. Even the subject matter of his inspiration adds to this feeling of exoticism. Noted works include the ...