PRINT February 2000


Richard Martin

BEFORE RICHARD MARTIN, exhibitions devoted to fashion tended to be characterized by dull antiquarianism or superficial glitz. By treating the way we dress as a living art, Richard changed everything. In scores of exhibitions and books and more than 100 scholarly articles, he examined fashion through the lens of contemporary art. It was not merely that he traced connections between clothing styles and art movements, still less that he idolized designers as creative “geniuses”; rather, he asked the kinds of serious questions of fashion that had seldom been applied to the supposedly frivolous subject.

For example, in his landmark 1987 Fashion Institute of Technology exhibition “Fashion and Surrealism” and subsequent Rizzoli book, Richard explored how individual artists/designers addressed the relationship between body and clothes. To this end, he compared the Tear-Illusion Dress and Head Scarf

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