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Willis Smith: Street Couture Review: Where Accessibility Meets Avant-Garde

enter Cooper Hewitt’s exhibition “Willie Smith: Street Couture” passes through a small triangular space painted in white. On the left wall is a timeline that began in 1948, when African-American Willy Smith was born in Philadelphia. He arrived in New York in 1965, studied at Parsons School of Design and worked for various brands from 1968 to 1976. It was the year he and Raleigh Mallet formed Williware. By 1982, Smith had taken his step. Until everything was shortened in 1987 with the phrase “Smith died of AIDS-related complications at Mount Sinai Hospital on April 17,” the creative and collaborative outcomes of each year became richer and more economical. I will succeed. He was 39 years old.

“Willismith: Street Couture” installation


Photo:

Cooper Hewitt / Ansunwoo

At that small entrance, there is a door-sized opening on the right wall covered with a white scrim. The space across the scrim contains a reproduction of an installation that Smith was invited to at PS 1 (now MoMA PS1) in Long Island City, Queens in 1982. When Smith was alive and well, but as a prelude to this exhibition, it is unforgettable. Criticizing the wasted six-month fashion cycle, Smith flash-frozen his work with white plaster. We knew that the shape of jumpsuits, shirts, pants and paper dolls, which were a staple of the collection, would never be out of date. Placed them on the ground in a way that suggests a graveyard of struck snow angels. He called the installation “art as a damaged commodity.”

“Willismith: Street Couture” installation


Photo:

Cooper Hewitt / Ansunwoo

In fact, the art was an angel on Smith’s shoulder. Yes, he was known for his designs called “street dressings” or “pedestrians”. In other words, it was not intended for the wealthy or rare. “I haven’t designed for a particular age or race,” the exhibition catalog says he said, “but for those who are interested in the world.” In New York in the 1970s, Smith was interested in creativity. With the club scene in full swing, a new generation of downtown artists gaining momentum, feminism booming, and Stonewall spurring gay liberation, he’s got high art, street expression, mashups with Americana, and more. I was using the aesthetic energy of the moment. Global ethnic. Alexandra Cunningham Cameron, a contemporary Cooper Hewitt curator, organized this delinquent show even later with the closure of the museum’s Covid-19 in March 2020. In the text on the opening wall, I wrote: Basics with avant-garde performance, movies, art and design. “

Willis Smith: Street Couture

Cooper Hewitt

Until October 24th

This is a point that Cameron points out by using Smith’s 1982 art installation as the skeleton key for the next section. The exhibition about Willy Smith is not exactly a fashion show, as his clothes were a means to an end. WilliWear was a large gathering of cutting-edge artistic soulmates. Cool kids invited everyone to the party. In fact, Smith is Agnes b in America. I was doing it in France — turning a fashion brand into a super-hip egalitarian statement of anti-luxury and professional art. Working-class fibers, such as cotton and linen, that look better the more you wear them, were the mainstays of both designers. And playful on-point collaboration (implicitly accepting the community) was the name of the game.

There is View clothing. Smith’s spacious silhouette (large overcoat, chunky suit, full skirt, clothes that can be nested if needed) is like a photo of the era showing them to the model, a layered dance of the early 80’s. It is hung near the image that captures the messiness. But the exhibition focuses on a bigger vision than clothing. Four intensive sections of runway, dance, film and design, each with its own artistic multimedia installation. Cameron includes Keith Haring, Jenny Holzer (T-shirt), video artist Nam June Paik (a runway experience he created for the 1984 collection “City Island”), and choreographer Bill.・ Introducing Smith’s collaboration with artists such as T. Jones and Arnie Zane. (Smith wore the costume of the 1984 dance “Secret Pasture”), filmmakers Lelevin and Max Vadukul (made experimental films for Smith in 1984 and 1986, respectively) , The founder of the paper magazine Kim Hastraiter (she edited the newsletter “Willi Wear News”), and environmental artists Christo and Jeanne Claude (Smith has T-shirts and guards for two monumental rap projects. I designed the uniform).

This exhibition embodies and celebrates Smith’s feelings for the overlooked beauty of urban infrastructure. Cinder blocks, wire mesh fencing, wooden pallets, milk boxes and concrete floors are all calm and unified with warm gray paint. These are the elements of the design vision he completed at the architectural firms James Wines and Alison Sky. Smith’s glass top desk, rebuilt here, is a rectangular structure made of gray brick, with the front corners knocked out like a wrecking ball, stepped constructivist triangular outdoors. I left. That’s what Smith was doing, breaking the walls and letting in light.

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Willis Smith: Street Couture Review: Where Accessibility Meets Avant-Garde

Source link Willis Smith: Street Couture Review: Where Accessibility Meets Avant-Garde

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