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Vanitas: Fashion and Art a costume exhibit at the Bass Museum of Art Miami Beach

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Continuing through July 20, 2014, the Bass Museum of Art presents an exhibit titled Vanitas: Fashion and Art.

The exhibit is curated by Harold Koda, the Curator in Charge of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and features costume items not often seen in Miami area. The exhibit includes clothing designed by such fashion luminaries, past and present, as “Elsa Schiaparelli, Alexander McQueen, Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, Isaac Mizrahi, Yohji Yamamoto, Iris van Herpen, Jasper Conran and Philip Treacy.”

We are told that Vanitas is a term which is “traditionally used to refer to a type of still life painting popular in the Netherlands during the seventeenth century, the term ‘vanitas’ has become more generally associated with art that meditates on the ephemeral character of earthly pleasures and worldly accomplishments, and highlights the fragility of our desires in the face of the inevitability of death.”
Fashion, it is pointed out by the museum, “with its accelerated cycle of obsolescence, explicit manifestation of status and material success, and potential for narcissistic self-regard … is a particularly apt medium through which to explore the exhibition’s central theme.”

This is an ongoing argument among those who love fashion, is fashion a frivolous art, not worthy of the larger acceptance of other art mediums – is it even art – or is it as much an artistic expression its highest level as the, so-called, fine arts we take more seriously. Does it’s accelerated cycle of birth and death and rebirth leave it open to ridicule and disregard, or, is it that very cycle that makes it precious?
Contemplate these ideas as you view contemporary art works exploring the themes of traditional momento mori in new ways, juxtaposed with the best original fashion designs that explore and hint at these same themes.

The Bass Museum on Miami Beach is open:

regular museum hours: wed-sun | 12-5pm | friday 12-9pm
general admission
$8 adults, $6 seniors and students with I.D. Free for members and children under 6.