For the moment, San Francisco has not one, but two must-see fashion-centric exhibitions on display. Jean Paul Gaultier’s edgy ensembles have taken over the deYoung Museum with The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, while Cindy Sherman’s variety of costume changes are gracing the galleries of SFMOMA in Cindy Sherman. We compare the exhibits blow-by-blow. Who will win this stylish smackdown? Read on to find out.
Over 140 ensembles of Gaultier’s are currently showcased, along with sketches, documents, photographs and even his first teddy bear. There are 150+ photographs of Sherman by Sherman on display in SFMOMA. But judging not by individual pieces, but based on the sheer size of the exhibitions, GAULTIER has Round 1 in the bag.
Gaultier worked closely with Montreal-based theatee company Ubu Compagnie de Création to produce lively projections of faces to bring mannequins to life (see photos). Also, the lighting of the exhibition transforms the galleries into more of a spectacle. However, Sherman relies on Photoshop alongside clothing, prosthetics and make-up to completely manipulate her image in every photograph. For using technology as part of the art, Round 2 goes to SHERMAN.
Keep your hands in your pockets, ladies and gentlemen. Gaultier’s variety of textures and fabrics makes it hard to abide those “DO NOT TOUCH” signs. Even though Sherman’s photographs make you want to jump in and be a part of her creative process, they don’t have the same 3-D effect as the physical clothes themselves. Round 3’s winner is GAULTIER.
Both artists are celebrating their retrospective debuts with these traveling exhibitions. Plus, they both boast the appeal of showing “never before seen” items. Yet, Gaultier’s designs have graced many magazine pages, thanks to his runway shows, red carpets and celebrity collaborations (who doesn’t know Madonna and her cone bra?). Sherman’s acclaimed Untitled Film Stills series, owned by MoMA in New York City, has never been shown with all 69 photographs all together in one exhibition. Since it’s the first time you can see the entire series. And with that, SHERMAN wins Round 4.
5. Social Commentary:
Both artists explore controversial and provocative topics relating to sexuality, diversity, and multiculturalism. Using clothing and styling, Gaultier and Sherman encourage viewers to consider various issues in the world on a broader spectrum. Looks like this one’s a TIE.
DING DING DING! This smackdown crowns both Jean Paul Gaultier and Cindy Sherman as victors of this match. Did you really expect us to choose one of these intriguing artists over the other? As if. They both use fashion to articulate big ideas about our world and do so in aesthetically beautiful and interesting ways. Not only did this result in a tie, but there’s a literal tie between the two: there’s a Cindy Sherman piece IN the Gaultier exhibition (see image below).
If you’re pressed for time, be sure to check out Gaultier’s work at the deYoung because it closes on August 19. Luckily, you still have a few months to get some face time with Cindy Sherman at SFMOMA, which closes on October 8.
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Photography of “The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier” by Jennymay Villarete.
Photography of “Cindy Sherman” courtesy of SFMOMA.