Savage BeautyCategory: General   Jul 13th 2011  02:00PM   0

Last Sunday I waited the 90 minutes to view the Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Met.  It was worth every minute.  Even if you are not very interested in fashion, the McQueen exhibit is still worth seeing. He was a true artist who used clothing as his medium. He never created anything superficially.  Each piece was infused with politics, history and passion.

 The other thing about McQueen was that his tailorship was impeccable. Not only did he have this brilliantly engaged social mind, he also had the ability to create real works of art through his masterful craftsmanship.  McQueen created historically new silhouettes that were expressions of his explorations of romanticism, nationalism, primitivism, and naturalism.  Looking at each piece is no different than looking at painting from a true master, complete with deep, intelligent commentary on culture and society. 

 Fashion is an especially provocative art form because the medium is not very removed from us. A painting is viewed on a wall; a piece of music is listened to from instruments we take in from a distance. But, what distance do we have from our own bodies? When the art form is something we put directly on us, filled with this deep commentary and exploration about what it means to be human, it makes the work visceral, immediate, and penetrating. It cuts out most of the space between the observer and the observed. 

I have never before been to an exhibit that had such an emotional, physical effect. I felt moved, terrified, elated, and awestruck, sometimes all at once while viewing the exhibit. It’s set up brilliantly. You go on a journey through different rooms that represent each theme he passionately explored, complete with installations of his fashion shows that he turned into performance art pieces.


What’s brilliant about the Met creating this exhibit is that it clearly shows who McQueen truly was and what he was really doing through his work. In the fashion world, it could have been very easy to write it all off as mere hype and spectacle. It took the Met to nail down clearly what a revolutionary force McQueen was and that he will go down historically as one of the most influential forces in the art form of fashion.


In the end, I found myself moved to some tears because of his tragic death last year. His departure was an enormous loss and nothing shows that more clearly than this exhibit. With that being said, it certainly is not a somber or mournful experience. It is a celebration of his life and his contribution to the art world. 


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