OCMA announces details of upcoming Yves Saint Laurent exhibition

The Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA) announced key details of the anticipated U.S. premiere of Yves Saint Laurent: Line and Expression, an exhibition that explores the legendary designer’s rich creative practice and inspiration. Featuring original sketches, seen alongside photographs, jewelry accessories and haute couture garments from 1963 through 2001, the exhibition offers insight into the genesis of the couturier’s creations and will be on view from July 3 through October 27.

“We are thrilled to present the U.S. premiere of this exhibition in Orange County, which has a long history of celebrating creative disciplines from art, design, technology, architecture and fashion. From haute couture to prêt-à-porter to street wear, fashion as a field continues to evolve, exemplifying the communicative power of design and the act of sharing ourselves with other people,” said Heidi Zuckerman, CEO and director, Orange County Museum of Art. “Yves Saint Laurent’s body of work redefines the idea of a creative practice, and defies categorization. His impact is felt in all disciplines, permeating beyond fashion into the art world and culture at large.”

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Courtesy of Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech, Morocco/Photo by Marco Cappelletti ©Yves Saint Laurent

“Yves Saint Laurent: Line and Expression,” 2023

Organized in four sections that delve deeper into the works left by the great French couturier Yves Saint Laurent (b. 1936, Oran, Algeria; d. 2008, Paris, France) and today belonging to the collection of the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris, this exhibition starts with his drawing practice – simple but highly evocative line illustrations that reveal the genesis of his designs. Drawn on paper in black ink or pencil, enhanced with colors that he had such a talent for combining and contrasting, Saint Laurent’s sketches differed from the fashion drawings of his contemporaries and are a substantial body of artistic work in their own right.

Every December 1 and June 1, before each haute couture collection, and whether in Marrakech or in Paris, the couturier’s working method entailed detaching himself from the world to imagine his future collections. On scattered papers, loose sheets or in spiral notebooks, Saint Laurent would begin each collection with a barrage of sketches. Serving as working, preparatory documents for the in-house workshops, who were tasked with interpreting the garment from the drawing and transforming it into three dimensions, these sketches reveal the couturier’s true artistic intentions. Like many young men of his generation, Saint Laurent was influenced by the style of Christian Dior, with whom he collaborated in the 1950s. He stepped out of Dior’s shadow when he opened his own couture house in Paris. In the 1960s and 1970s, his drawings took on new life: faces in profile were seen more and more, like sovereigns of the fashion eras they dominated, and the bodies became elongated. In black pencil or in color, Saint Laurent’s sketches serve as illustrations of the very spirit of the collections.

Saint Laurent’s creations are recognizable by their lively, dynamic lines, which he emphasized masterfully through his use of black. From collection to collection, from his early career and beyond, the couturier showed how much he was also a colorist. Passionate about the arts, and in particular painting, his palette of natural and exotic hues would encompass Goya pink, Picasso red and Chagall blue. Certain color combinations, which others would consider incongruent, became a signature in the hands of Saint Laurent: green against blue, orange alongside pink.

The exhibition was curated by Olivier Saillard and Gaël Mamine, both of whom have strong connections to the designer’s oeuvre. Saillard was the curator of the important exhibition Yves Saint Laurent 1971: La collection du scandale, mounted at the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris in 2015. It examined a legendary collection that was heavily critiqued by the press when it was unveiled while being universally celebrated by the public and sparked the retro trend, what trend? which continues to resonate within today. Mamine was Head of Collections and Textiles at the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent and played a key role in the Saint Laurent retrospective at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 2008.

Yves Saint Laurent: Line and Expression is curated by Olivier Saillard and Gaël Mamine. This exhibition is organized by the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech and Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris, with an exceptional loan from the collection of the Fondation Pierre Bergé –Yves Saint Laurent in Paris.

Orange County Museum of Art is located at 3333 Avenue of the Arts, Costa Mesa. Hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Free general admission is generously donated by Lugano Diamonds. For more information, visit www.ocma.art.


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