Last Friday a friend and I went to the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco to see this amazing and completely original body of work from Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave. She creates exquisite life-size costumes entirely from paper! There are more than 60 of these trompe l'oeil masterpieces drawn from examples in costume history. What amazed me was that she uses only two kinds of paper: a type of butcher paper for the sturdier parts of the costumes, and lens cleaning paper for the filmy diaphanous parts. She skillfully works the paper to achieve the effect of textiles by crumpling, pleating, braiding, feathering and painting the surface. Using European paintings and iconic costumes, she draws on multiple historical periods, including Renaissance clothing of the Medici family, gowns worn by Elizabeth I and Marie-Antoinette and designs of the grand couturiers including Christian Dior, Coco Chanel and Mariano Fortuny.
For the San Francisco presentation, she created five original works based on four European paintings from the collection at the Legion of Honor: Massimo Stanzione's Woman in Neapolitan Costume, Anthony van Dyck's Marie Claire de Croy, Duchess d'Havre and Child, and Konstantin Makovsky's The Russian Bride's Attire.
This exhibit is so completely unique. Standing in front of these costumes, it is hard to believe they are made of paper, including the jewelry and all accessories. It is definitely a treat to witness the work of this singular artist. The exhibit runs through June 5, 2011.
Bouquets to Art
After our visit to the de Borchgrave, we stopped by the de Young to see the annual Bouquets to Art floral exhibition. This 5-day exhibit is a much anticipated event. Prominent Bay Area designers and garden clubs design floral arrangements to interpret and complement the museum's permanent collection. There were 150 arrangements—flowers everywhere in every gallery: upstairs, downstairs and in the hallways. The museum never smelled better!