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Dior and the Marquis de Sade

The Spring 2006 haute couture collection 

 

 

…“My manner of thinking, so you say, cannot be approved. Do you suppose I care? A poor fool indeed is he who adopts a manner of thinking for others!” – Donatien Alphonse François, Comte de Sade–

 

The Museum of Fine Arts In Boston (www.mfa.org) is currently holding an unusual exhibition The Paris Collections 2006 which will be running until March 18, 2007. Why unusual? Well, we are talking about an art museum, a place where important things are preserved. By definition, in a museum, objects of artistic, historical, or scientific importance and value are put on display, and this raises the question whether a fashion should be considered as history…absolutely yes! Fashion is an art expression as well. To observe this, I invite you take a tour through the stunning House of Dior Collection with the genius of John Galliano at its best.

http://www.style.com/fashionshows/collections/S2006CTR/complete/slideshow/CDIOR

 

 

John Galliano has become internationally renowned as one of Britain’s most exciting designers, highly innovative and experimental, Galliano’s collections literally shock, audiences. He finds his inspiration in historical events. The upheaval that took place in France, summer of 2006, when he was working on a new collection, along with ideas of French Revolutionary times stirred his creativity, and the result was a breath-taking collection with allegories to the infamous Marquis de Sade. Cinched leather jackets, looped-up pannier skirts, laced biker pants; red, black and white, voluptuous fabrics and high volume layered structures dress his models as they came out with their necks stenciled with the date of the French revolution.

 

One cannot observe such display of fancy without feeling taken back to France in the XVIII Century, when the hated Marquis de Sade was scandalizing his contemporaries with obscure self-indulging practices that have been the object of scrutinized study by generations. What is the connection between Galliano and Sade ?… well, I could easily put the initial quotation of this article in Galliano’s lips, but I most say in an entire different context, of course. J

It is important to note that Sade’s motive was not in any case art as expression. His source of creativity was an insane drive to inflict pain unto others as he describes in his publication “120 days of Sodom.” As an author, de Sade is to some an incarnation of absolute evil who advocates the unleashing of instincts even to the point of crime.

 

It is an interesting thought that lust could inspire such display of mastery over form and volume as well as it can arouse the most wicked thoughts.

“lust is to the other passions what the nervous fluid is to life; it supports them all, lends strength to them all … ambition, cruelty, avarice, revenge, are all founded on lust.”

–Sade-

Mmmh… how about lust and creativity?

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« Les Liaisons Dangereuses » of Diego, Frida, Trotsky, Stalin and Siqueiros

leontrotski.jpgThe art world does not revolve around the creation of artwork for art’s sake, nor it does around the technical side of it, and the talents and accomplishments of certain individuals whose names are widely know. Names become big not because of the mastery of the skill, but because of the political ideology behind it and the outrage they had cause in their time. The skill and the level of genius is later on recognized by scholars who have all the time to scrutinize it and decide what accomplishments have been made, but it is really more in function of what they represented in Athe bigger scheme of an era. Art becomes the timeless testimony of the constant search of humankind for ultimate truth. In this instance, ultimate truth takes the shape of political adherences.

 

Living in Mexico in the late 30’s and being an artist was synonymous of being a raging socialist, ready to sacrifice it all for “the cause” and what was the cause? What were the myths and where was truth? The reality is that everyone was in danger to become just the monster they most abhorred: oppression. The death of Leon Trotsky in August 21st, 1940 in the hands of another left-wing follower is the single most despicable act of oppression any furious activist could have ever conceived, not only because of what Trotsky represented, but the savagism with which the murder was perpetuated…with an ice-pick (!!)

 

During his political career, Trotsky was an influential political writer and was exiled from many countries on multiple occasions. After the death of Lenin, Trotsky was the single most important individual who had become almost a legend for his passionate and lectured insights in Marxism as polytical  ideology, as well as his experience as a revolutionary hero. Stalin, being concerned with the influential figure of Trotsky, had consolidated his power in Russia, and he chased his most hated rival into exile. Communist communities around the world were violently divided in their loyalties. Mexican muralist Diego Rivera followed Trotsky, alienating himself from the Communist mainstream in Mexico. Mexican President Lazaro Cardenas granted Rivera’s request for Trotsky’s asylum in Mexico, and Trotsky lived with Rivera and wife Frida Kahlo, for the next two years.

 

Diego Rivera was a controversial figure in Mexico, other than being a communist; he allegedly had tried human flesh (ouch!) Diego was an atheist, and among his scandals, he caused an outrage in NY, when he was commissioned by Rockefeller to paint a mural in the Rockefeller Center, and decided to paint a portrait of Lenin in it (How charming… guess what…he lost the client!) Now, about eating human flesh…we have to understand that Diego loved controversy, but having interviewed people who worked in his murals as young students I have to pass the word that such part of the myth is NOT TRUE. Do not believe everything you read in history books.

 

Frida was another eccentric figure as well, had an affair with Trotsky, in the meantime that the relationship between Trotsky and Diego was becoming tense. There was a presidential election and Cardenas choice to succeed him was a conservative and religious believer candidate. Diego, to Trotsky’s dismay, sided with the Mexican Stalinists to oppose the president’s choice by supporting another candidate who was right-winged and in favor of the neo-Nazi movement (!) Trotsky did not want to go against the president who offered him asylum and deeply reprobated Diego’s choice of suck wicked allied forces against him. This cause the breakup of the friendship and Trotsky was asked to move out of Diego’s house. (Did he suspect what he was doing his wife? Mmmh)…by the way, on regard to Frida, remember the accident when she was eighteen that left her paralyzed for twenty years? …well she with her usual black humor claims that the metal bar that trespassed her body from side to side entered the hip and came out through her…ejem …she said that that is how she lost her virginity. NOT TRUE! A close friend who was traveling in the trolley at the time of the accident said that she was already incapable of having children due to a genetic malformation of her reproductive system…and not a virgin either. 😛 (with friends like that….)

 

Cain in US -SiqueirosDavid Alfaro Siqueiros, another respected muralist in Mexico, and certainly not a friend of Diego, was one of the Stalinists in Mexico. Following Stalin orders through an agent, he attempted murder on Trotsky along with a group or twenty other men armed with guns in May 1940, but failed. (Years later he told the press that he did not try to kill him, and that he was not following Stalin orders…he just wanted to scare him out of the country….yeah right) months later, Trotsky was brutally murdered  by Ramón Mercader another furious Stalinist who claimed he acted alone and did not follow anyone’s orders.

 

This is why I call this the dangerous liaisons, who is a friend of who and who betrays who? No…life is better than a soap opera. Mix politics, lust, betrayal, lies and murder and the result is…a history class! But remember….do not believe everything in history books…as a matter of fact do not believe anything at all! I was not there myself; I am just passing the gossip to you guys!

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Of sheep, Second Handers and Bruegel the Elder

The Parabole of the blind following the blindTalking to my friend about “The Fountainhead” and the “Moutons de Panurge” -two stories with the same basic philosophy about the roles than men play in being either creators or followers- my mind was shuffling through thoughts trying to find a third reference in the work of the Belgian artist Pieter Bruegel (The Elder) and one of his famous paintings, -whose title was in the tip of my tongue-

Now, after easing the urge of my curiosity through research, I can say confidently that the title is “The parable of the blind leading the blind”

The comparison follows:

Brueger The Elder depicted the biblical passage: Matthew 15:14: ‘They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.’

He made “The parabole of the blind leading the blind” in 1568, the renaissance era. In the illustration we can see six blind men following a blind leader, who has fallen into a ditch. The expressions in the faces reveal an increasing sense of anguish from the one who suspects that something terrible is about to happen through the last one, who walks naively and without hesitation to his dreadful -but chosen- fate.

Bruegel, a religious man and a stern moralist tries to explain how many men would rather follow a path already traced by others -because it requires no effort and no thinking- rather than taking the risk of walking The Right Path on their own.

In the same philosophy, Ayn Rand ( author of the “The Fountainhead”) radically divides the world in two types of people: “creators” and “second handers” creators being the ones who lead every major change in human history, and the second handers, the ones who criticized them, judged and sacrificed them, but their lives were significantly improved by those whom they martyred.

“It does not matter that only a few in each generation will grasp and achieve the full reality of man’s proper stature-and the rest will betray it. It is those few that move the world and give life its meaning-and it is those few that I have always sought to address. The rest are no concern of mine; it is not me or The Fountainhead that they will betray: it is their own souls.” -Ayn Rand-

In our third example, The “Moutons de Panurge” a classic philosophical tale of French renaissance philosophy, taken from the work of François Rabelais (Gargantua and Pantagruel) a man named Panurge took a boat and went to the country of Lanternes. On the boat, he meet a sheep dealer who had a flock of sheep with him. Panurge bought one of the sheep at a very high price and threw it into the sea. All the other sheep followed and threw themselves into the water, while the dealer tried hopelessly to hold them back.

Three different ways to illustrate the tendency to follow another’s lead, or conventionalisms, rather than taking the risk to be yourself and march to the rhythm of your own drums…do you dare to play those drums today? 😉

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