Drawing Fashion in Madrid
Image: Jean-Philippe Delhomme, 2008
Back in 2011 Madrid’s Museo ABC, Europe’s only museum dedicated to drawing and illustration, staged a show of the work of Carlos Saenz de Tejada who illustrated Paris fashion during the 1930s straight from the ateliers of Chanel, Lanvin and Schiaparelli. And now the artist’s work has inspired the museum to take a fresh look at contemporary illustrators; ‘Drawing Fashion’, which includes work from Francois Berthoud, David Downton and Mats Gustafson, opens next week.
“It’s a unique opportunity to see the work of 22 of these artists and to see their work in real time; their stokes, their gouaches, their traits,” says the show’s curator Jesus Cano. “They do not share one common technique or characteristic. Some of them work in pencil, or digital brush, others with watercolour; but in all cases, the result is an attractive, elegant and unique image.”
Illustration’s current renaissance, he believes, is partly due to its ability to convey an emotion, and arguably more nuance, than a photograph: “It leaves room for and boosts the imagination. If photography has the efficiency of mirroring reality, drawing is closer, more emotional, and allows construing what we see in a more subjective fashion. Clothing is no longer a commercial product and becomes something more abstract, more appealing.”
More than half of the selected artists are women – including Helen Bullock, Rosie McGuinness, Tanya Ling, Blair Breitenstein and Unskilled Worker; it’s a stark contrast to the past when female artists were marginalized and Cano believes that this shift will also help to shine a spotlight on women illustrators of the past such as Dorothy Hood or Barbara Perlman.
Cano believes that social media has had a hand in allowing some female artists to move to the fore. Platforms like Instagram have also fuelled the second golden age of fashion illustration which has proliferated across magazines, supplements and ad campaigns over the past decade and helped many practitioners, including Spanish artists such as Jordi Labanda, Ricardo Fumanal or Ines Maestreto access a global audience. “Borders are likely to disappear in creativity and creation,” adds Cano. “In a few years, an artist’s origin will no longer make sense, and we will focus more on their style or language.”
Drawing Fashion runs until 19 May 2019.