Man Ray, la science de la beauté

Man Ray and Kaat Debo

Man Ray, la science la beauté, Marseille, Musée Cantini © Man Ray 2015 Trust / Adagp, Paris 2020
Dirk Vaene Seane, collection automne/hiver 2008-2009
Dirk Vaene Seane
Collection automne/hiver 2008-2009

"As hommage to Man Ray, I combined two of his works, 'Cadeau/Audace' (1921) and 'Untitled (Classical Head) (1935), with two designs of the Fall/Winter 2008-09 collection by Belgian designer Dirk Van Saene. The oeuvre of Dirk Van Saene, one of the Antwerp Six, is loaded with references to surrealism. I'm sure he's a secret admirer of Man Ray and his fellows. When the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam hosted the exhibition 'Surreal Things: Surrealism & Design' (2008) they invited Dirk Van Saene and his partner Walter Van Beirendonck to do the exhibition design. They came up with a brilliant concept, inspired by the surrealists' mannequin fetisj. One of the highlights for sure was the disturbing noise of a fighter plane that every so many minutes disturbed the entire exhibition space, leaving the visitors behind in utter shock and confusion. It was then that I fell in love with this fashion designer who so cleverly translated what surrealism is about. Man Ray's 'Untitled (Classical Head)' shows an extreme close-up of the Venus of Arles, retouched with lip gloss and eyebrows, as if trying to imbue the statue with life. In a similar way Van Saene tries to bring life to a black and white knitted jumper, with two female faces placed on the shoulders, with long knitted braids on the sleeves. When worn, it is the body that brings movement to this object, creating the impression of two chattering women....funny and akward at the same time. The look on the right reveals Van Saene's love for trompe-l'oeil, outlining a much thinner silhouette on a more voluminous sweater, for sure a reference or tribute to Elsa Schiaparelli. Man Ray's 'Cadeau' (with its anagram 'Audace' as second title) reminded me of Van Saene's self-chosen position in the fashion world: an under dog, stubborn and never subjecting himself to trends... His designs: elegant, referencing and deconstructing the world of French couture, but always with a 'spiky' twist."

Mrs Kaat Debo, Chief Curator. MoMu-ModeMuseum Antwerpen – Fashion Museum Antwerp

Read the other tributes

Man Ray and Fashion
from 23 September to 17 January 2021