At the Shanghai show, Loewe bridges the gap between art and fashion – cialisdfr
At the Shanghai show, Loewe bridges the gap between art and fashion
At the Shanghai show, Loewe bridges the gap between art and fashion

The last decade has been a very busy one for Jonathan Anderson. Since taking over as Loewe’s creative director in 2013, the 39-year-old designer has transformed the Spanish fashion house from also-run luxury conglomerate LVMH into a powerhouse that generates more than $650 million in annual revenue.

Anderson did this in large part by collapsing the gap between haute couture and the art world. He has created thoughtful, high-profile collaborations with artists ranging from Julien Nguyen to Lynda Benglis to Richard Hawkins. And he’s helped create unconventional yet wearable collections that are full of edgy and often funny references to visual art.

Related articles

Anderson’s imprint on Loewe is on full display in “Crafted World,” the brand’s first public exhibition, on view through May 5 at the Shanghai Exhibition Center before traveling around the world. While charting Loewe’s 178-year history – from its early 19th-century leather outfit in Madrid to its acquisition by LVMH in 1996 to now – the exhibition is undoubtedly the story of Anderson’s tenure at the brand.

“In the beginning, it was actually very difficult to get artists to work with a fashion brand. There was a preconceived notion of fashion as the Big Bad Wolf and artists as this island,” Anderson said at a preview of the exhibition on Thursday. “It’s only recently that I realized that after many, many years of trying to understand the nuances and make people feel confident about working with a brand and not feel overexposed by it, we’re now at a place where I feel confident that the artist is in a safe space.

Loewe’s years of working with artists form the center of Crafted World. While the exhibit begins by tracing the early history of the brand and includes a staircase lined with video screens cheekily demonstrating the correct pronunciation of the name (ie lo-ev-eh), it quickly moves into a room filled with tree trunks, hanging with the brand’s basket and Bag-buckets along with ceramics by Pablo Picasso and traditional handmade Spanish ‘Lebrillo’ bowls. Ceramics from the Loewe Art Collection are usually displayed in Casa Loewe stores, which similarly juxtapose the brand’s designs with works of art. About 150 works of art are on display in the exhibition, including other works from the collection such as Repressed apple by Irish sculptor Siobhán Hapaska or collaborative works such as those by British artist Anthea Hamilton Giant Pumpkin #6, a large winter squash sculpture that graced the set for the brand’s fall-winter 2022 show in Paris. There is also an entire room dedicated to the winners of the Loewe Foundation Craft Prize, an annual prize of €50,000 given for an original work of the applied arts.

The various winners of the Loewe Foundation Craft Award exhibited at Crafted World in Shanghai, China.

Courtesy of Loewe and OMA

“There is something in all artists [on display] where there’s something in the craft that they’re doing that gets pretty twisted,” Anderson explained. “When you look at Picasso’s ceramics, it borders on kitsch. They are kind of funny. And I actually think some of Picasso’s greatest works were done in ceramics. They become this interesting bridge between crafting versus decoration and painting.”

The focus on Loewe’s ties to artists is perhaps natural, given that Anderson curated the exhibition with the help of around 100 other people spread across the brand’s team and the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, the London-based firm founded by the Dutch star architect Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zengelis. Anderson and Loewe began developing Crafted World nearly two years ago, laying out the themes and content before OMA was brought in last summer to design the physical 17,000-square-foot exhibition space.

During the initial phase of their involvement, OMA went through Loewe’s archive to get a “clearer picture” of the story the show could tell, said Ellen van Loon, partner at OMA and lead on the project. ARTnews.

“It was interesting to see all that history,” van Loon said. “We found that this collaboration with artists has happened since the beginning of the company. There was always an interest from day one in other arts.”

Although the exhibition often looks like a well-crafted museum study, with white walls and explanatory plaques to match, its most exciting segments are the nine fascinating rooms that make up Unexpected Dialogues, each dedicated to the work of a particular artist or collaborator and the resulting collection. The rooms are designed to emphasize the specific style of each artist. For example, the space dedicated to Japanese ceramic duo Suna Fujita features walls dotted with circular cut-outs, inviting the viewer to lean in to see the whimsical details of ceramic vases and teapots or video of the artists at work. Rugs made by weaver John Allen fill a room from floor to ceiling, while sculptor Ken Price is honored with a recreation of his New Mexico studio. An entire wall is dedicated to a moving collage inspired by the works of downtown New York luminary Joe Brainard, brought to life by a hand crank.

The room dedicated to weaver John Allen, who collaborated with Loewe for a summer 2015 capsule collection.

Courtesy of Loewe and OMA

In discussing the various collaborations, Anderson said that beyond simply working with artists whose work he admires, he privileges those whose work creates whole worlds or whose ideas reinforce or provide a counterpoint to his own, as was the case in January when Loewe presented his Autumn/Winter 2024 Menswear Collection alongside paintings and digital collages by Richard Hawkins, a Los Angeles-based artist who creates images of queer desire.

“It just felt right,” Anderson said of working with Hawkins on the playful and sexy menswear collection. “We had a lot of work to do [Hawkins] in the Loewe collection. And it was the exact antithesis of the collection. He was able to take it to the next level.”

Among the more than 600 objects and products on display, there are many that encourage attendees not just to look, but also to touch. There’s an over six-foot-tall Studio Ghibli sculpture made from leather bags and a life-size Totoro bum to lie on, a rainbow bookcase made of colored leather, tiles by William De Morgan and the disassembled parts of Loewe’s famous Puzzle bag. In fact, almost nothing in the exhibition is behind glass, neither the delicate, intricate works of the Craft Prize winners, nor the 69 runway pieces arranged in a grid from Anderson’s first collection with the brand to date. Like everything else in the exhibition, that decision ultimately comes back to Anderson, who has long cited an affinity for Barbara Hepworth, the British modernist sculptor who was adamant that sculpture must be touched to be fully understood.

“I think the moment you put it behind glass, it creates this other way you approach the clothes,” Anderson said. “If we put the whole garment in glass, it will lose its tactility. Even if you can’t touch it, visually I think it destroys it. To me, it’s like a dressing.

Ceramic works by Pablo Picasso are paired with Loewe bags and traditional Spanish Lebrillo bags.

Courtesy of Loewe and OMA

Sometimes “Crafted Worlds” plays like a greatest hits of what’s in vogue in some museums today. The room dedicated to Arts & Crafts movement designer William Morris – long a leading touch point for Loewe – combines Anderson’s inspired 2017 capsule collection with an immersive video screen floor that pulses and ripples with Morris’ ornate prints inspired from the nature. An exhibition of the Loewe 2021 collection, which references Arts & Crafts designer Charles Francis Annesley Voysey, is set in a hall of mirrors. You’d be forgiven for thinking it was made from a Kusama design. One of Studio Ghibli’s rooms features twenty-foot screens stretching to the ceiling, playing gorgeous clips from favorite films like Howl’s Moving Castle.

In any case, one imagines no small number of selfies and TikToks will be taken there, which may be the point. After all, while Anderson may once have said to Cut critic Cathy Horyn that fashion is not always about selling products but about “introducing ideas”, this exhibition is ultimately an extended introduction to the fashion and luxury obsessed Chinese public. You still exit through the gift shop. There are books on Picasso, Cubism and Goya along with puzzle bags.

By admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *