Art Scenes: Fame, Fashion, & Feminism

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The Swans, an exhibition now showing as part of a multi-platformed show titled Picturing Fame at the NSU Art Museum, is composed of vintage fashion selections from Palm Beach resident Stephanie Seymour’s haute couture collection, including her 1995 Azzedine Alaia wedding dress, and an array of artworks by Karen Kilimnik from the Brant Foundation collection. Kilimnik’s illusionary narratives, as discerning as entertaining, provide the aesthetic milieu for Seymour’s soignée mannequins dressed by the past century’s illustrious couturiers. The Swans “celebrates glamour, beauty, fantasy, and the occult.” [Photo Augustus Mayhew]

Before the rainy season takes hold here in the tropics and with the unforgiving seasonal traffic faded, I dashed to peruse the Picturing Fame exhibition at Ft. Lauderdale’s NSU Art Museum (Edward Larrabee Barnes, architect, 1986).

“I began collecting couture when I was 24,” said supermodel turned connoisseur exceptionnel Stephanie Seymour, schooled on runways, red carpets, and behind the velvet ropes. “I am dedicating the show to my son Harry, who passed away. He loved fashion,” Seymour commented in a video interview when the show opened.

Then, I motored to Miami’s Allapattah Arts District for the Women and Sculpture show at the Spinello Project, engaged as much by the show’s industrial staging as the artworks, exploring women as creators of art and their eternal role as the ideal objet d’art.

Chilean Avenue, 2023, Palm Beach Casbah. Since the Town Council recently voted “to pause” any consideration of slowing down some forms of new construction, residents might plan to keep their hard hats and ear plugs at the ready, at least through the 21st-century.
Chilean Avenue, 1957, with its original Moorish-styled dome. Landmarked in 2009.
Bride and Groom to-be, along with their entourage, photographer, lighting assistant, and hair/make-up professional, stroll on a Worth Avenue arcade, following an early morning shoot on Via Parigi. The Town Council recently voted down permission-to-film for Apples Never Fall, an English series with Annette Bening. The Town Council also nixed an episode of The Real Housewives of Miami, “There’s no redeeming quality to this,” council member Bobbie Lindsay said, according to the Palm Beach Daily News. Commercial photographers, videographers, and their crews continue to find Palm Beach vias, doorways courtyards, fountains, staircases, and doorways must-have settings for bridal parties, graduation shots, and model portfolios. Stay tuned. The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Kyle Richards’ husband has opened a real estate office on Peruvian Avenue.

North County Road. It seems everyone has their own camera crew.
The Swans. Mariano Fortuny (1871-1949). Silk, detail. Haute couture. [Collection of Stephanie Seymour]

Picturing Fame
NSU Art Museum
One East Las Olas Blvd. – Ft. Lauderdale

Picturing Fame is a four-part exhibition organized by Bonnie Clearwater, NSU Art Museum’s director and chief curator, in association with the Brant Foundation and the assistance of Carol Ugalde and Casey Paul.

NSU Art Museum, entrance hall, featuring playful FriendsWithYou mobiles, the work of Los Angeles-based artists Samuel Borkson and Arturo Sandoval III.

Toulouse-Lautrec & the Follies of Fame exposition features Toulouse-Lautrec’s original drawings, etchings, and posters.

Hooray for Hollywood. The title alludes to a Jack Pierson drawing that plays on Johnny Mercer’s tune. The Cinemascope-sized wall includes a Frida Kahlo self-portrait and Andy Warhol’s Mao print series (1973). Who?

First assembled at Brant-Timonier/Palm Beach in 2022 as Karen Kilimnik x Stephanie Seymour, Paintings & Dresses, the project was expanded and re-contextualized as The Swans for the NSU Art Museum show.

Stephanie Seymour and her husband Peter Brant are collectors of Karen Kilimnik’s artwork, having loaned their collection for the NSU exhibition. “We have a great collection of her work,” said Seymour. Kilimnik’s multi-sourced creations and fabrications sometimes transplant cultural icons and media idols as characters onto historical and current settings making for otherworldly mise-en-scenes in sharp contrast with haute couture’s ineffable splendor.

Karen Kilimnik. the little fop out in the park meets the poor beggar, 2008. Water soluble oil on canvas. Kilimnik’s paintings have a childlike enchantment. [Courtesy of The Brant Foundation, Greenwich/New York]

L. to r.: Zandra Rhodes (b.1940-). English. Silk chiffon, 1970s. [Collection of Stephanie Seymour]; Azzedine Alaia (1935-2017), Tunis. Haut Couture, 2003. [Collection of Stephanie Seymour]

Stephanie Seymour, president of the Alaia Association’s Circle of Art and Design. Azzedine Alaïa discovered Stephanie Seymour when she was 14 years-old.

Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel (1883-1971). Day Suit, detail, c. 1960. [Collection of Stephanie Seymour]

Cristobal Balenciaga (1895-1972). Evening gown, 1965-1966. Silk with ostrich feathers. Cocktail dress, c. 1958-1963. Silk taffeta. Evening suit, 1960. Silk brocade. Upon Balenciaga’s death in 1972, WWD headlined, “The King is Dead.” [Collection of Stephanie Seymour]
André Courrèges (1923-2016), French. Detail. Known for his white ankle boots and miniskirts the couturier’s 1960s revolutionary style was notably go-go.
Christian Dior (1905-1957). Evening dresses. An influential mid-20th-century designer, Dior hired Yves Saint Laurent in 1955 as his assistant and appointed heir to succeed him.

Women & Sculpture

Bernadette Despujols & Elizabeth Tremante

Spinello Projects
2930 NW 7 Avenue, Miami

Elizabeth Tremante. Out of Action: Women & Sculpture, 200 BCE-Present, 2023. Oil on canvas.

Women & Sculpture, a two-person show featuring the paintings of Elizabeth Tremante and sculptural works of  Bernadette Despujols.  The exhibition brings together the works of these two disparate artists who examine the objectification of women and the female figure. Museums and art galleries provide the settings for Tremante’s most perceptive works displaying torsos and limbless figures of women based on Greek and Roman antiquity as well as Rodin and Brancusi.

Elizabeth Tremante. It Was Only A Dream, But She Destroyed the Getty Center With Her Blood, 2023. Oil on canvas.

Elizabeth Tremante. Obverse, 2022 & Reverse, 2022. Oil on canvas, 30” x 40”
Bernadette Despujols. Current sculpture. Reflecting Tremante’s fragmented statues, Despujols creates concrete female torsos, left, as well as utilizing inflatable sex dolls as molds, right, in her ongoing sculpture series Love Dolls.

Alejandra Moros
Tip of the Tongue / Bridge of the Nose
Spinello Project

For her first solo exhibition, Alejandra Moros, a recent University of Miami alum, zooms-in on various anatomical landscapes and body parts, skin pores, wrinkles, fingerprints, eyelids, and the like. Apparently, the closer we look, the less recognizable the painting’s subject. Because of the scale of the pieces, her mono-hued works appeared overwhelmed by the industrial multi-level area where they were exhibited.

Alejandra Moros. Eyelid Light Diffusion 2, 2023.

Spinello Project, gallery space.

Azzedine Alaia. Wedding dress for Stephanie Seymour, 1995. The Swans @ Picturing Fame. Karen Kilimnik & Stephanie Seymour. NSU Art Museum, Fort Lauderdale. [Collection of Stephanie Seymour]

Photography Augustus Mayhew.

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