In 1876, French scholar and artist Auguste Racinet published Le Costume historique (The Costume History), an illustrated sartorial tour throughout world history. This six-volume work, with 500 detailed color illustrations, spanned millennia, from the ancient Egyptians’ plumed headdresses to bedazzled medieval crowns to the felt leggings of 19th-century Russian peasants. To this day, the book remains the most thorough and intricately illustrated study of global fashions ever attempted.
Abstract Expressionism is largely remembered as a movement defined by the paint-slinging, hard-drinking machismo of its poster boys Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. But the women who helped develop and push the style forward have largely fallen out of the art-historical spotlight, marginalized during their careers (and now in history books) as students, disciples, or wives of the their more-famous male counterparts rather than pioneers in their own right. (An exception is Helen Frankenthaler, whose transcendent oeuvre is often the only female practice referred to in scholarship and exhibitions around action painting.)
One of the first major ensembles prepared for Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear, 1715-2015 was the “macaroni male,” an archetype that we envisioned opening the exhibition from the very inception of the show. The term “macaroni” was used to classify hyper-fashionable British youths during the 1760s and ’70s who not only had a taste for Italian pasta (for which they are named) but also for wearing ostentatious, exaggerated Italian and French fashions outside the court and onto the streets of London.
By Seph Rodney
Someone once said to me that for him, one of the famous modernists, I think it was Paul Klee, represented the values of serious play. That idea lingered in cobwebbed corners of my mind until I walked into the Lehmann Maupin’s downtown gallery to see Adriana Varejão’s Kindred Spirits when it flashed into relevance again. Taking in the small, almost square paintings, I intuited the game, thinking to myself, I see the visual references to Sol Lewitt, to Jackson Pollock, to Robert Rauschenberg, Jaspers Johns, Donald Judd, and Barnett Newman — the heroic modernists, at least in the canonical version still taught in freshman art history courses.