Fashion and art have always been two sides of a similar creative coin. They have flirted throughout history with collaborations and partnerships but not always resulting in a successful union. The acceptability of creative individuals whose careers crisscross between both fashion and art has until recently been unwelcomed in the art world. However this attitude is changing and we have begun to see the merging of both worlds more frequently, younger artists have begun to manage traversing both these cutthroat worlds with great skill. Three emerging artists come to mind whose studios I’ve had the pleasure of visiting recently.
Jack Greer, a young artist originally from LA who came to New York to study studio art, began supporting his ambitions to become an artist by taking marketing and design jobs for mega footwear and apparel brands such as Nike. Greer’s work garnered such attention throughout the company that eventually he was running an entire team of designers for an exclusive sub-brand under Nike. On the heels of this success, Greer began designing his own line of denim jackets for Opening Ceremony.
When I stepped into Greer’s studio, back in May, it was clear that his body of artistic work had been infused with the accomplishments and skill that he developed in the fashion world. My attention was captured by a recent work titled “The Summer” (2011). At first glace, it was a deceptive piece. Very graphic, with an arrangement of color bursting out at its center, like one of those cartoon explosions, surrounded by what appeared to be a chaotic assortment of painted black lines. The piece is entirely made of fabric; the black lines were actually scraps of fabric carefully arranged behind a near imperceptible mesh. It was a tour-de-force of Greer’s technical skills emphasizing his ability to use fabric in as subtle a manner as paint. This past fall Greer was in four shows at once – Capiche? at Workshop Arte Contemporanea in Venice, Italy, a solo show at his artist collective in Brooklyn, The Savage Detectives at RH Gallery in New York and Working on It at TEMP in New York.
Greer is able to give equal attention to both careers because of his skills in a wide range of media. The breadth of Greer’s art is outstanding, ranging from works featuring sand, melted crayons, and felt. Each visit to his studio in Red Hook is a new discovery of the next outrageous experiment with media that he has embarked upon.
My first introduction to Alex Posen’s work was through a colleague with a curatorial eye that I admire and respect. Soon after, we ventured out to her Sunset Park-located studio to see the jpegs that I had been sent come to life. We were met with a range of work incorporating very specific and delicate fabrics. One that immediately struck my eye was a work in progress, black chiffon diligently arranged in a billowing line of folds. Each fold sown along a separate horizontal thread and then placed congruently together.
The more time that I spent with the work in Alex’s studio, the more her family background made sense. Posen is a member of a family that nearly hemorrhages creative juice. Her father Stephen Posen, a peer to fellow Yale classmates Chuck Close and Richard Serra, is a well respected SoHo based artist with work residing in many prominent collections through the efforts of Leo Castelli Associate Director Ivan Karp. Alex’s brother is the famed women and menswear designer Zac Posen. Until recently, Alex was solely engaged in the management of her brother’s line, but eventually the call of her own artistic pursuits beckoned.
Incorporating many of the design techniques that she honed through working with Zac and also through years of costume design, Alex has transformed the contours of fabric into a painterly tableau. Using soft billowing fabrics draped in a manner that only the finest couturier could, Posen creates work – unlike most art – that desires to be touched.
Over the years, fashion photography has achieved visibility amongst some of the most prestigious art institutions in the world. The work has jumped out of magazine spreads and into the exhibition programs of the Met, MoMA. Sandy Kim, a rising art star who began her career based in fashion photography has recently landed on the gallery scene showing at the Hole, and at our non-profit TEMP based in Tribeca. Beginning her career doing fashion shoots for publications such as Vice, Slate, and Purple magazines, Kim is rarely seen without a camera. Her photos are candid moments from the chaotic world that she and her rocker boyfriend share. She continues to do fashion spreads maintaining a similarly bombastic and frenzied aesthetic as within her art photography. Yet, by virtue of their purpose, she intentionally abates her normal spontaneity, generating cleaner and more focused compositions.