Helmut Lang’s minimal fashion designs from the 1990s are a legend in the fashion world. In 2005, he retired from fashion and sold his label to Prada Group. Since then, he started a career as a visual artist with a one man show at the German Kestnergesellschaft in 2008.
It seems, for the show at the Fireplace Project he finally cut all his ties to his fashion past: After donating the most important designs and sketches to International design collections, he shredded the rest of his archive and turned it into art. He mixed his fashion life shreds of cloth and paper with color pigments and resin and formed columns from it. They run from the ceiling to the gallery’s floor.
I like the show’s title ‘Make it Hard’, which references to the transformation of the soft shreds into these hard columns, as well as a sexual connotation that might refer to the overall intention of fashion.
In Vienna, there is still the story told that one day back in the 1980s Mr. Lang was at the Café Havelka with the Austrian painter Kurt Kappa Kocherscheidt. The painter told him: ‘Helmut I tell you, in painting there are two types of artists: On one hand there are the interior decorators and on the other hand, there are the god-seekers. As an artist, you must decide which type you are.’ The legend has it that this was the moment, when Helmut Lang finally decided to become a god-seeker in fashion.
Considering the creative talent Mr. Lang undeniably is gifted with, I think it will be very exciting to see what he is going to do in the art world after burning all his ships to his fashion past.
Helmut Lang: ‘Make It Hard’ at the Fireplace Project gallery in East Hampton
From July 22 – August 8 2011