Fashioning Art: Lichtenstein and Jacquemus by the seaside

Jacquemus and Lichtenstein

Jacquemus Spring 2015 and Girl With Beach Ball III (1977), Roy Lichtenstein [Image taken from Fash of the Titans]

Roy Lichtenstein‘s Girl with Beach Ball III from 1977 is a reworking of one of his most iconic works, Girl with Ball (1961). In the original 1961 work, Lichtenstein was inspired by an advertisement he saw for the Mount Airy Lodge in the Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania. The ad was widely publicised at the time, appearing in prominent publications such as The New York Times and the Daily News. It presented some of the hotel’s main attractions, accompanied by a woman in a bathing suit with a beach ball. Lichtenstein was drawn by this woman, who was presented in the ad as a personification of the idea of “fun in the sun”.

 

Mount Airy Lodge advertisement

Mount Airy Lodge advertisement

Girl with Ball (1961), Roy Lichtenstein [Image from MoMA]

Girl with Ball (1961), Roy Lichtenstein [Image from MoMA]

He recreated this image in his work, but transformed the image using Ben-Day dots, a popular device from the visual language of the comic-strip that he has come to be associated with. This has the effect of abstraction by subtraction, as details from the original photographic image are simplified and stylized. The resulting effect intensified the artifice of the original image in its careful evocation of femininity and the trope of fun in the sun. Lichtenstein exaggerates the woman’s doll-like appearance, depicting her round, open mouth in the same shades of red and white as her beach ball, drawing a parallel between the plastic nature of the woman and that of her beach ball.

In Girl with Beach Ball III (1971), Lichtenstein further stylized the woman, breaking her down further into her graphic elements of lines, Ben-Day dots and primary colours. This further emphasized her two-dimensionality, flattening her by bringing her closer to the picture plane.

Look 17 from Jacquemus Spring 2015 [Image taken from Vogue]

Look 17 from Jacquemus Spring 2015 [Image taken from Vogue]

Simon Porte Jacquemus’s Spring 2015 collection for his eponymous brand, entitled Les Parasols des Marseille, or ‘the umbrellas of Marseille”, played with a similar theme of seaside fun in the sun, inspired by the designer’s childhood in the south of France. Jacquemus presented an off-kilter collection of deconstructed bikinis and halter tops, paired with poplin trousers or wrap skirts that beach towels. However, just as the trope of seaside fun began to take seed, the collection abruptly changed keys in the second half as Jacquemus re-introduced the sculptural experiments he has become known for through his previous collections. Taking the theme to its limits, the designer presented exaggerated renditions of the beach uniform. In the seventeenth look to walk down the runway, what looked like an absurdly large bikini bottom was worn off the shoulder. In the main look above, blue, pink and yellow Cabana stripes and geometric shapes combine to recreate the effect of beach balls, beach towels and deck chairs. Jacquemus’ breaking down of the seaside vernacular is highly evocative of Lichtenstein’s painting, as both designer and artist work to distill popular culture down into their elemental, graphic components. In doing so, both highlight the artifice of these popular tropes. By the end of the second half of Jacquemus’ collection, the set, which featured deck chairs, inflatable furniture and sun umbrellas devoid of colour, began to resemble a lexicon emptied of meaning.

Set from the Jacquemus Spring 2015 show [Image taken from Vogue]

Set from the Jacquemus Spring 2015 show [Image taken from Vogue]


Main image taken from Fash of the Titans.

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