Tuesday, 4 March 2008

The art of Balenciaga

The great couturier Cristobal Balenciaga cited, amongst others, the work of Francisco de Zurbaran as one of his inspirations. Zurbaran was known for his severity of line and dramatic use of chiaroscuro. Like Balenciaga, he was a master at handling sumptuous fabrics.
Yet, there is an austerity, almost an economy, of expression both in Balenciaga's and in Zurbaran's work. This, I believe, to be the manifestation of their shared Spanish sense of formality.

Top, St. Casilda, oil on canvas circa 1630-1645. Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Lugano-Castagnola, Switzerland.
A dress in pink and violet printed faille by Abraham, summer 1961. The inspiration for this dress was the painting of St. Casilda (pictured top).

St. Margaret, oil on canvas, circa 1630-1635. National Gallery, London.

St. Rufina, oil on canvas, early 1630s. National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin.

Zurbaran's St. Marina. Balenciaga's evening dress in aquamarine wool organdie, spring 1958.

Cecil Beaton photograph of Balenciaga at home.

The interior of La Reynerie.
Top: The Grand Salon, note the Janet stags; Balenciaga's bedroom.
Above: The dining room; another view of the Grand Salon.

La Reynerie, Orleans, France.

All Balenciaga images are from Balenciaga, by Jouve and Demorenex, the definitive book on Balenciaga to date.

Now playing: Grace Jones - La Vie En Rose
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katiedid said...

I love your posts if for nothing else than learning new vocabulary. But this post is really beautiful. The interpretation of the paintings in Balenciaga's work is really interesting to see.

Pigtown-Design said...

WOW. these are just gorgeous. i don't know how you find such amazing things, day after day.

An Aesthete's Lament said...

I was reading that massive Balenciaga book last night; this is uncanny. (How are your biceps doing, by the way?) CB's houses, alas, I find rather sad and heavy, penitential, in a way. But the clothes. Sublime. The color combinations, equally so. Still, it cracks me up to read Diana Vreeland on the closing of CB's couture house and Mona Bismarck's reaction—to go into seclusion.

mamacita said...

I love Balenciaga's study, but wouldn't the stag horns poke you in the back if you sat on the couch? Can't say I approve of that.

Easy and Elegant Life said...

HOBAC, you've just helped me score massive points with my fashion conscious art history teacher. I'll be champing at the bit for "spring break" to be over.

You really do find the most amazing things to write about.