[ 0 ] April 6, 2016 |

~ by joel martens ~

Los Angeles County Museum of Art


What Are You Wearing?

Reigning Men: Fashion In Menswear, 1715 To 2015

coat, france, c. 1800 - LACMA

coat, france, c. 1800 – lacma collection

The lovely thing about artistic expression, is that it can take a multitude of unique and different forms; be it through painting or sculpture, a photograph or multimedia project, or any of the myriad contours it may follow. Each has its own merit and is an expression of the creator’s vision and then discerned, primarily, by the viewer’s unique interpretation…A sensibility that can be attached to the many manifestations available to us. Who hasn’t had the opportunity of sitting at a table whilst having a plate presented to them reflecting a chef’s artistry, or lost themselves during a performance in the grasp of a gifted musician, as they express their passion for a composer’s mastery?

Art in its many forms, also tends to reflect the times during which the works were executed. War, poverty, riches and posterity, a connected world or one that is blowing apart, egalitarianism or egoism, it’s all there on a canvas, in sculpture, on a video, in a photograph and indeed, literally expressed in the clothing we wear on our backs.


macaroni ensemble: suit, italy, probably venice, c. 1770 – lacma collection

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has put together a collection of menswear, spanning a 300-year period that reflects many of the aforementioned ideas, showing the level to which fashion has been a part of, pardon the puniness, the fabric of our lives. Reigning Men runs from Sunday, April 10 through Wednesday, August 21, offering a unique vision into menswear and its place, representing what we as a culture were manifesting socially, politically and culturally.

Often considered a woman’s purview, this exhibit clearly shows that men have been just as concerned with appearances throughout history as anyone. As Sharon Takeda, senior curator and head of LACMA’s Costume and Textiles department notes, “Reigning Men takes us on an intriguing 300-year journey of sartorial splendor of aristocrats, dandies, mods, punks and so many others. Through examples of historical and contemporary ensembles, viewers can encounter the evolving nature of menswear and contemplate the future of men’s fashion.”
Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear, 1715–2015, runs Sunday, April 10 through Sunday, August 21 at the LACMA and features 200 looks, drawn mostly from the museum’s renowned, permanent collection of costume and textiles. A collection amassed as LACMA CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director Michael Govan says, “Through major acquisitions and generous gifts over the past 10 years, LACMA now has the strongest European and American menswear collections in the western United States. “Reigning Men is an exciting and rare opportunity to examine the comprehensive history of men’s fashion, and we are thrilled to share the collection and scholarship with Los Angeles and beyond.”

Reigning Men’s FIVE Basic Categories:

coat, vest & breeches. france, c1790 lacma collection

coat, vest & breeches. france, c1790 lacma collection


An examination of the continuous reinvention and the historical context of the “fashionable man.” Curators explained the idea of clothing as a revolution this way, “Fashion is used to express anti-authoritarian currents, such as the French Revolution in the 1780s and ‘90s and the punk movement in the 1970s and into the 1980s. Radical revolutionaries in France utilized new styles, textiles and colors to express political sentiments and 200 years later, “punks” embraced bricolage and do-it-yourself personalization to create anti-authoritarian fashion statements.”


zoot suit, united states, 1940-1942 lacma collection


In this second theme, the heavy influences on fashion between east and west are highlighted. 17th and 18th century, upper-class Western men wore loose-fitting robes that many say were influenced by the T-shaped kimonos of Japanese origin. India, China and Japan’s traders, brought back new, unique designs and materials, which eventually made it into western fashion trends.


army uniform ensemble, england, c1799-1800 lacma collection

army uniform ensemble, england, c1799-1800 lacma collection

Though the concept of fashion may be lost to many as expressed in military uniforms, the standards set for quality, materials, cut and fit are easily transferred. Fabrics, tailoring techniques, stylish details and embellishments were molded, stitched and steamed into silhouettes that idealized the male body. Something that did not go unnoticed by 18th and early 19th century Saville Row tailors who crafted fine wools for their army and navy clientel. Also, not to be lost on many a modern designer, who borrowed often from history’s design regiments.


walter van beirendonck, ensemble, fall/winter 2000-1

Body Consciousness:
The idea of molding the body to idealize a figure is not something exclusive to the female form. Men have used undergarments to conceal, manipulate or reveal the male figure in its best possible light. As explained by curatorial staff at LACMA, “Historically men have turned to clothing devices such as stockings with padded calves, waist-cinching underpants and body-shaping tailored jackets or corsets to achieve an ideal male silhouette. Molding the garment with tailoring or padding has been used for nearly two centuries. In the early 19th century, a jacket’s broad shoulders, expansive chest and wide skirts created an illusion of a narrow “wasp waist.” An ideology and value, which can certainly be found in the most current fashions—or perhaps under them—in much of menswear today.


jeremy scott with adidas, ensemble, fall/winter 2013-14

The Splendid Man:
Excess is the word for this portion of the exhibition. 18th Century men expressed this concept by the use of vividly colored fabrics, precious metals used in the heavy embroidered detailing, which was frequently highlighted with fur, gemstones, sequins and metallic lace. Florals, generally relegated to the feminine, returned as a symbol of the contemporary, elegant male as seen in designs such as Frida Giannini’s Gucci ensemble or Helmut Lang’s floral trousers.

For tickets and more information, go to



J. Paul Getty Museum and Los Angeles County Museum
of Art

WEBGETTY2Combining their considerable forces and resources, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the J. Paul Getty Museum are collaborating in order to highlight one of the 20th Centuries most provocative and influential artists. The exhibit, Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium, reflects Mapplethorpe’s desire to “capture the perfect form” through his work. That perfection could be captured in anything, from a flower petal’s essence, his images of the artists, musicians and socialites he knew, to pornographic film stars and members of the S & M underground. LACMA’s featured exhibition, Physical: Sex and the Body in the 1980s, is “a focused installation of work by other artists drawn from LACMA’s permanent collection that helps place Mapplethorpe in conversation with the art of the 1980s.” The J. Paul Getty’s companion exhibit explores Mapplethorpe’s “disciplined studio practice and his fascination with classical form and the fine photographic print.” Both exhibits run through July 31 and are open to the public, but as they say, “This exhibition contains sexually explicit content that may not be suitable for all audiences.”
For tickets and more information, go to

ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives

WEBONE-ARCHIVESPart of the USC Libraries, the ONE Archives Foundation organizes a range of exhibitions on queer art and culture. New to ONE Archives in April are two exhibits, concurrently running through July 2016: At their Plummer Park location in West Hollywood is Cock, Paper, Scissors, showing intergenerational works from 15 queer artists who “explore the collaged page or the scrapbook with diverse, erotically inclined tactics. The exhibition draws from both archival collections and contemporary practices, focusing on how these artists reuse the pieces of print culture for world making projects ranging from the era of gay liberation to the present.” Inside the ONE Archives at the USC Library is M. Lamar: Funeral Doom Spiritual, also opening in April, featuring works of M. Lamar.
For more information on both, go to

The Broad

WEB-1x-1The latest installment to the Los Angeles art scene and a stunning architectural gem befitting its neighbor, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, The Broad promises to redefine the arts in downtown L.A. Opened in September 2015 and designed by renown architectural wizards, Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler, The Broad is home to more than 2,000 postwar and contemporary art and considered one of the most prominent worldwide. Works on display during their inaugural exhibition feature art world masters such as Baldessari, Basquait, Deibenkorn, Giacometti, Haring, Matisse and Miro. Also on display, is Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room, the dazzling, mirror-lined chamber that features a “seemingly endless LED light display.”

For more information go to


Orange County Museum of ArtWEBOrange-County-Museum-of-Art

April is busting out all over at the Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA)! Three unique exhibits are slated to open this Spring and will run through until early July: First up is We Were Here: Absence of the Figure, which highlights the museum’s most recent acquisitions to their permanent collection. The exhibit “explores the persistence of the human presence in place and time through contemporary interpretations of landscape, object and environment. The second to open is Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty and features the lush paintings, photographs and videos of an artist whose works “vividly manifest our culture’s complex and contradictory emotions around the feminine body and beauty.” Finally, also opening in April, is the museum’s third in a video art series titled The Pacific Project: Yuki Kihara and showcases the interdisciplinary work of this New Zealand video artist, in her U.S. debut.

For more information, go to

San Diego’s Balboa Park

WEBSDMAThis is the place to be in San Diego if you want to not only enjoy the grandeur of the city’s 100-year-old park, but take in its many museums, the focal point of the city and park’s collection. The San Diego Museum of Art features a nationally-renown, permanent collection of Spanish and Italian old masters, paintings of South Asia and 19th- and 20th-century American paintings and sculptures. Current major exhibitions include: German Expressionism, Art of East Asia, artists Harry Sternberg, Pan Gongkai and Sebastião Salgado, as well as Art of the Open Air on the Plaza de Panama. The San Diego Art Institute is the park’s premier organization showcasing artists from the Southern California/Baja Norte region. Along with many one-night only events offered each month, their current collection from curator-in-residence, Amanda Cachia is Sweet Gongs Vibrating: a multimedia, multisensory exhibition tWEBTimken_Museum_of_Art,_San_Diego_01hat “breaks with the ocularcentric by embracing myriad modes of perception.” The Mingei International Museum is “dedicated to art of the people (mingei) from all eras and cultures of the world.” The Timken Museum of Art houses the world-class Putnam Foundation Collection of European old master paintings, American paintings and Russian icons, including; Rembrandt, Rubens, Fragonard and Bierstadt. The Museum of Photographic Arts is one of the few in the country solely dedicated to the photographic arts. With more than 7,000 images amassed so far, including new artist’s work, their permanent collection represents the entire history of the art form.

For more information on all these selected museums, or the many others that reside in Balboa Park, go to

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego


With two locations, one in Downtown San Diego’s historic Sante Fe Depot and the other in the heart of La Jolla, MCASD is dedicated to “the exploration and presentation of the art of our time, presenting works across all media created since 1950.” Current La Jolla exhibitions include Álvaro Blancarte: Marking the Present and Ed Ruscha Then & Now: Paintings from the 1960s and 2000s; downtown San Diego features work ranging from large-scale architectural installations and sculptures, to works on paper and video from artist Do Ho Suh.

For more information, go to



Category: General

Leave a Reply

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a Gravatar.