Aaron Betsky Reveals Changes, Challenges at Cincinnati Art Museum (Cincinnati CityBeat, December 23, 2013)
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After a record breaking attendance for her Wedded Perfection: Two Centuries of Wedding Gowns, Curator of Fashion Arts and Textiles Cynthia Amnéus brings fashion back to the Cincinnati Art Museum.
This fall Art Deco: Fashion and Design in the Jazz Age kicks off the Cincinnati Art Museum’s 2011-2012 exhibition calendar.
Art Deco: Fashion and Design in the Jazz Age features The Betty Colker Collection of 1920s gowns. After collecting these pieces for over fifty years from vintage dealers all around the world, Cincinnati native Betty Colker recently donated her collection to the Cincinnati Art Museum. The collection features evening and day dresses embellished with Art Deco motifs. The designers worked bold architectural, geometric, and linear elements in beading, sequins, and embroidery on diaphanous slip dresses that revealed the female form.
According to Curator Cynthia Amneus, “The wonderful examples of 1920s fashion recently donated to the museum by Betty Colker are the core of this exhibition. Their bold designs speak to the brashness of the decade and the exuberance of women who, in many ways, had been set free. Boy-ish dresses with no structure, new forms of social dance that were wild compared to the past, the new musical invention of jazz, a modernization of everyday life . . . . the Art Deco era was a new way of living. Pairing these lavish dresses with the wealth of decorative arts in our permanent collection has really made the period come alive in this exhibition.”
The fashion featured in this exhibition will be put in context with exceptional examples of decorative arts from the museum’s permanent collection. A boudoir mirror and seat designed by American designer, Paul T. Frankl (1886-1958), is a highlight. Important ceramics by French designers René Buthaud (1886-1986), Andrés Naudy (active 1928-34), and Emile Lenoble (1876-1939) will be featured along with perfume bottles by René Lalique (1860-1945), and an array of Art Deco jewelry.
Original fashion plates from the French fashion magazine Le Gazette du Bon Ton, bold textiles designed by artists including Raoul Dufy (1877-1953) and Robert Bonfils (1886-1972), and architectural photographs featuring Cincinnati’s finest Art Deco buildings, including Union Terminal, the Carew Tower, and the Hilton Netherland Plaza Hotel, will round out the exhibition.
The Roaring Twenties are defined by the exceptional fashion, music, and design of the period. It was an era of evolution and newfound autonomy for women. 1920s flappers abandoned their corsets for slim, beaded sheath dresses that hugged the body. They smoked in public, bobbed their hair, and shaved their legs. Women learned to drive, became employed, and won the right to vote. Gowns were covered with beaded fringe and floating panels that came alive when women moved in scandalous and sensual dances like the Charleston, Black Bottom, Shimmy, and Tango.
At the same time, African American artists, entertainers, and writers of the Harlem Renaissance, including dancer Josephine Baker (1906-75) and poet Langston Hughes (1902-67) came to the fore. Many moved to Paris and energized art, literature, and music of the period.
After the soberness of World War I, individuals looked forward to a bright, new, modern world and the clean lines of Art Deco provided it. Discarding the excessive ornamentation of the Art Nouveau movement, Art Deco was a pervasive style that flourished throughout the decade. It influenced every aspect of life - architecture, fashion, jewelry, and the visual and decorative arts.
Spanning the 1920s, Art Deco emphasized simplified geometric shapes paired with stylized floral and human forms, reflecting themes of modernity and efficiency. Originating in France, the movement was adopted around the world and celebrated in the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris. Best known for its geometric forms, the chevron, ziggurat, frozen fountain, and sunburst are its most recognizable motifs. It was, however, an eclectic style that incorporated sweeping curves and exotic influences.
According to Art Museum Director Aaron Betsky, “This jazzy exhibition is going to remind us all of the great era when Cincinnati built the Carew Tower and Union Terminal, when women gained rights, and when art joined the party. The dresses at the core of Art Deco will shimmy and shimmer. If Wedded Perfection evoked bliss in beautiful gowns, this exhibition will celebrate the joys of the freedoms women fashioned for themselves.”
About the Cincinnati Art Museum
Hours of operation are Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Art Museum is closed on Mondays. The Art Museum is FREE, EVERYDAY! Parking is $4.00 dollars. The Art Museum is located at 953 Eden Park Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45202. For general information, call (513) 639-2995 or visit www.cincinnatiartmuseum.org.
The Cincinnati Art Museum is supported by the generosity of individuals and businesses that give annually to the ArtsWave. The Ohio Arts Council helped fund the Cincinnati Art Museum with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. The Cincinnati Art Museum gratefully acknowledges operating support from the City of Cincinnati, as well as our members.