Body of work
The latest exhibition at the Hepworth breaks down the barriers between art and fashion. Yvette Huddleston reports.
The Hepworth Wakefield continues to distinguish itself as one of the most exciting contemporaray art spaces in the UK with its bold and imaginative approach to programming and curation.
Its latest exhibition Disobedient Bodies, which opened last month, is a perfect example. Curated by designer Jonathan Anderson, one of the most distinctive, acclaimed and innovative voices in contemporary British fashion, it is the first in a planned series of shows curated by key figures from creative fields outside the visual arts including music, filmmaking and literature.
“Jonathan mentioned Hepworth in a magazine interview and said that he was interested in her work,” says Andrew Bonacina, chief curator at the Hepworth.
“As a curatorial team we had already been talking about how people are engaged with different design forms and how we could reflect that by bringing in new viewpoints and perspectives and Jonathan seemed like the ideal first candidate. It is really about finding the right person. The plan is to do a show like this every two years, the next one will be in 2019. So we will be looking at musicians, writers, filmmakers and obviously whoever we choose will have a genuine interest in and engagement with the narrative of the visual arts.”
Anderson came to spend time with the collection, looking at Hepworth’s early work – as well as the work of Henry Moore – and using that as a starting point.
The work of both sculptors in the 1920s and 30s was at the cutting edge of representing the human body in the abstract. “Jonathan appreciated how radical that moment was, so that is how the theme of ‘disobedience’ emerged,” says Bonacina.
He explains that the show – which explores how the human form has been reimagined by artists and designers through the 20th and 21st centuries – has evolved through conversations between himself and Jonathan over the course of two years. “He has brought something to the table and so have I. It’s been a complete and very steep learning curve,” he laughs. “We talked about the tendency of institutions to categorise things as art or fashion but those boundaries are really breaking down. Things are talking to each other much more so we wanted to present them on a level playing field, looking at it partly in terms of form or materials or a creative moment.”
The exhibition presents a personal selection of more than 100 objects – the most that have appeared together in a show at the gallery since it opened – taking in art, fashion, ceramics, textiles, design, film and even furniture in quirky and thought-provoking groupings.
The blurring of the lines between art and fashion is imaginatively explored and there are some wonderfully witty juxtapositions of objects such as the placing of one of Moore’s reclining figures next to a JeanPaul Gaultier ‘cone’ dress from the early 1980s lying horizontally on a plinth. Similiarly a Yohji Yamamoto Bustle Coat finds an echo in William Turnbull’s
Often we give more value to art than fashion and that is something that the
Jean Paul Gaultier ‘cone’ dress, above and, inset, Yohji Yamamoto Bustle coat.