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Article

Meghan E. Grossman

Fashion photography is the use of photography to communicate the latest trends in clothing. It acts as a representation of popular taste and is created to serve a commercial industry, yet it has also served as an avenue for change, pushing the boundaries of acceptability with innovations in style, technique, and the portrayal of fashion. Fashion photography was a democratizing force in the acceptance of photography, as it brought the new form of expression to an audience of every social level, rich or poor, urban or suburban. Via mass media, photography serves to relate changes in fashion over long distances and many cultures, primarily disseminating the styles of high fashion in Paris, Milan, or New York to the rest of the world.

Fashion photography as it exists today falls into three main categories: editorial, advertising, and documentary. In the first category, photographs are commissioned by a publication to provide the “news” in fashion to its audience. These photographs are intended to feature the best designs of the current season, without monetary compensation from the companies whose products are included. Editorial photographs are often tied together by theme or narrative, to create a coherent multi-page spread featuring several different designs. Advertising photographs are commissioned by the design house, manufacturer, or retailer to feature a product or brand identity. The company pays for the space in which the advertising photograph appears. Finally, fashion design companies often commission photographers to document their collections; these photographs can be used in-house for documentary purposes or published in the form of a catalog, which serves as additional advertising. Depending on the purpose of the assignment, the photographer may choose to feature the clothes on a model, or hide fashion pieces amongst a jumble of unrelated objects. The goal of the photographer is to elevate the clothing to its highest status, the “fashion object,” through visual cues, lighting, composition, and creativity. Photography has served to add prestige to fashionable clothes since its introduction....

Article

Mildred Constantine

revised by Elissa Auther

[Fiber art]

Collective term, coined in the 1970s, for creative, experimental fibre objects. A wide range of techniques is used, often in combinations that encompass both traditional (e.g. felting, knotting) and modern (e.g. photographic transfer) practices. The eclectic range of materials includes many not previously associated with textiles, such as paper, wood, iridescent film, nylon mesh and wire.

The first experimental work was done during the 1920s and 1930s by such artists as Anni Albers (see Albers family, §2) and Stölzl, Gunta in Germany. Equally innovative work was produced in the 1940s and 1950s by Trude Guermonprez (1910–1976), Luba Krejci (1925–2005), Lenore Tawney (1907–2007), Loja Saarinen (1879–1968), Dorothy Liebes (1897–1972), Marianne Strengell (1909–1998) and others. These artists were concerned with natural and manmade materials, vibrant colours, formal pattern-making and texture derived from construction. By the 1960s a new direction in ...

Article

Andrew Cross

revised by Mary Chou

(b London Aug 9, 1962).

British sculptor, painter and installation artist. Born to Nigerian parents, he grew up in Nigeria before returning to England to study Fine Art in London at Byam Shaw School of Art and Goldsmiths’ College where he completed his MFA. Shonibare’s West African heritage has been at the heart of his work since he started exhibiting in 1988, when he began using ‘Dutch-wax’ dyed fabrics, commonly found in Western Africa, both for wall-mounted works (as pseudo paintings) and for sculpted figures. Generally perceived as ‘authentic’African cloth, the tradition of Batik originated in Indonesia, and was appropriated by the Dutch who colonized the country. Manufactured in Holland and Britain, the cloth was then shipped to West Africa where it became the dress of the working class in nations such as Nigeria. Shonibare used the material as a way of deconstructing the more complex histories that determine these and other images of ethnicity. As such, he has been described as a ‘post-cultural hybrid’ or the ‘quintessential postcolonial artist’ by critics as well as the artist himself....