Alternative perspectives and humanist propositions define the intriguing world-building of the Milanese collective in their investigations of functionality, identity, and the mundane.
Tanagras: from Picasso to Alaïa
Words by Albert Shyong
Named after the Boeotian town in central Greece where they were first discovered, tanagras are terracotta figurines mass produced during Classical Antiquity in Ancient Greece. The palm-sized statuettes depict the quotidian lives of mostly women in various poses, dressed in garments and accessories common during that era. Sought after for their beauty and as a glimpse into millennia past, tanagras caught the eye of many European collectors after prolific excavations began in the 1800s. The figurines soon made their way into the trove of references inspiring many artists, including Pablo Picasso himself. In his interpretation of the forms and garments that comprise the terracotta pieces, the Spanish artist sculpted his own series of tanagras during the 1940s and 1950s, exaggerating the proportions with a distinctly Cubist twist.
For the maison Alaïa’s Summer Autumn 2022 collection, Belgian creative director Pieter Mulier paid homage to the Spanish master in an exercise of meta-appropriation stretching from 4th century BC to the 20th century, recontextualised in the realms of fashion. Six dresses in the collection are conceptualised with Picasso’s Tanagras as the design inspiration, produced in collaboration between the Picasso Administration and the Alaïa atelier. Reflecting the variety of the ceramic sculptures, the dresses range in simplicity and density yet are united in a silhouette that plays with a body-conscious form and concealed face enveloped by a turtleneck. Knitted in a complex jacquard technique, they capture the delicate textures and colours of the paintwork found on Picasso’s sculptures, thus establishing a dialogue through time and space with unlikely treasure troves of creativity entwined under Mulier’s watch.
Discover the limited-edition pieces at Gagosian Shop.
Read more about tanagras at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Marlene Dietrich, in words and at the Palazzo Grassi
Portraits of the 20th century icon are featured within the pages of A Magazine Curated By Erdem, and form part of the Pinault Collection currently on display in CHRONORAMA. Photographic Treasures of the 20th Century.
Hylton Nel: This Plate Is What I Have To Say
On the occasion of the exhibition This plate is what I have to say at Charleston House, British artist Isaac Benigson details his longtime friendship and childhood memories with the South African ceramicist and A#19 Curated By Kim Jones contributor Hylton Nel.