nuances in black
Cristóbal Balenciaga’s (1895-1972) legacy transcends the notion of “fashion”. Known as the couturier of couturiers, his deep cultural connection to Spain is manifested in a body of work that often recalls mourning dresses, bullfighter costumes, and monastic robes.
On another dimension, Black was his muse. Through his mastery of this non-color color, Balenciaga has opened up an entire realm of intricacies, complexities, enchantment, and glory. Every angle of his pieces is a work of art. And the virtuoso’s orchestration of light, shadow, form, and texture continues to awaken memories and emotions linked history, symbols, culture, and nature.
In this sense, his work makes us comprehend that dressmaking in its highest form, is an artisanal process, and an artistic process.
Yet what was equally compelling was Palais Galliera’s curatorial decision to stage this body of work in Musée Bourdelle which was formerly the studio of sculptor Antoine Bourdelle.
Balenciaga’s pieces were physically in dialogue with the equally-dramatic and non-tonal sculptures of Bourdelle, and co-habiting the space of art. This reminds us that art and artisanship are synonymous.
This is a story of Black. And the countless ways we can experience it through the couturier’s masterpieces.
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MOOWON is an online magazine unearthing beauty and the human spirit through the art of storytelling. Its stories connect readers to the world’s unique and extraordinary people, places, and practices: masters who revive vanishing arts, ideas and endeavors that embody noble values and authenticity. The following is an excerpt from its visual essay on Balenciaga’s work, documented at Musée Bourdelle and Palais Galliera’s exhibition “Balenciaga, l’oeuvre au noir”.