FROM THE DIRECTOR. AVANT-GARDE: INNOVATIVE, ORIGINAL, EXPERIMENTAL, INVENTIVE, AHEAD OF THE TIMES. words above describe the Emphatics collection, which will be one of the major exhibitions of our winter season. TnowheEmphatics was the name of a store in Pittsburgh that became the locus of a collection of avant-garde fashions, which belong to Phoenix Art Museum. The mostly European and Japanese designers confronted conventional fashion
norms, offering innovative alternatives that were dramatic in their cuts, asymmetry, and mostly all-black palette. Having lived in New York during the 1980s and 1990s, the heyday of Emphatics designers like Jean Paul Gaultier and Joshi Yamamoto, I remember the excitement these iconoclasts injected into fashion and look forward to revisiting (and lusting after) these incredible garments.
cutting/leading/bleeding edge, new, modern, innovatory AVANT-GARDE ALSO REFERS TO A REVOLUTIONARY SPIRIT - AN UPENDING OF THE STATUS QUO.
“Avant-garde” also refers to a revolutionary spirit – an upending of the status quo. It describes the work of The Propeller Group, a collaborative of three artists based in Ho Chi-Minh City, which is the subject of another exhibition this winter. This media-savvy collective produces conceptual art that confronts the reality of Vietnam and its capitalist present. Their work is multi-media and hard to pin down. No easy narratives here, but irony abounds. Their most famous work is Television Commercial For Communism, for which they hired a global advertising firm to create an advertising campaign to market Communist ideology through capitalist means. In this post-ideological age (one could argue against this characterization), it proves a witty branding exercise for a Cold War artifact. The exhibition marks a collaboration between Phoenix Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and the Blaffer Art Museum at University of Houston.
advanced, forward-looking, pioneering, progressive
The other loaned exhibition this season is a survey of the work of the Argentine artist, Horacio Zabala. Although the forms are conventional – maps, monochromatic paintings, and sculptures – the ideas allude to contested geographies and censored information against the back-drop of political turmoil in his country. One of the most important conceptual Argentine artists to have emerged during the late 20th century, this show will be a rare opportunity to explore his work.
The Avant-garde are people who don’t exactly know where they want to go, but are the first to get there. – romain gary With gratitude, AMADA CRUZ The Sybil Harrington Director, Phoenix Art Museum
LETTER FROM THE DIRECTOR
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