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For this essay I have decided to discus the history of both Fine Art and Fashion, making comparisons and similarities to gain an understanding as to why it may seem Art has a higher status and value then Fashion. I will look at and research into theorists to back up my findings.
I have also decided to discuss the era of the 1960's with its mass produced art. Did this devalue Art? Linking the obvious mix with inspiration between, Art and Fashion. Again looking at relevant theorists.
Is fashion Art? For this part of the essay I am going to talk about Fashion within Art museums, Art History, recent exhibitions, and how Artists and Designers have worked side by side to create masterpieces within both the Art society and Fashion industry.
It can be argued that Fine art was traditionally owned by the rich and elite. Looking into Art history having a portrait painted of yourself expressed the wealth of you or your husband and your family name. To own an original painting also reflected on this. A Marxist critic might say art interacts with the ways that power structures work in society. The Marxist art theory history tried to express how art was tied within certain classes. " In Marx's terms, the dominant social classes that own or control the newspapers, and, since Marx's time, the television networks and the film industry, are able to control the content generated by these media forms" (Sturken&Cartwright P.51.) Therefore Marxists could keep Fine Art within the rich and Elite as they had more control over society.
Not everybody would have or does own a piece of art, but everybody would and does wear clothes, it's a necessity not a desire. On the other hand in the eyes of some, fashion would not be seen purely as just clothing, and would be seen as a desire. Ironically the fashion of the extravagant clothing immortalises within the painting, as it was made specifically to look exquisite in the beautiful paintings and portraits. Looking back into History Women would wear big extravagant handmade clothes with precise detailing and trims, to reflect their status and wealth. (Fig1)
Therefore Fashion must have subconsciously showed the same high elite value and status as the Fine Art painting itself.
It is interesting to look at the 1960's and how mass produced art of this era could have devalued art. Mass production was seen within artists work such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. (Fig 2-2a) This has caused many debates as to whether or not this devalued art? It certainly made art available to more and without the elitism of a one off original idea. Marxist would be for this argument as I've already stated they believe art was for the elite and upper classes and showed the guideline between the two rich and poor they saw popular culture as easy culture therefore it wasn't as valued. Postmodernist would argue this point, been the opposite of a Marxist. They would argue that popular culture does not mean it is easy culture. " The distinction between fine art and popular culture has been consistently blurred in the art movements of the twentieth century, from Pop Art to styles of Post Modernism" (Sturken & Cartwright p.50). Fashion has always taken so much inspiration from art as its working alongside the art movement of the time, but it was this era where this really boomed and became more clear and visible. Works of Op Artist Bridgett Riley was seen in the psychedelic geometric fashions. (Fig3) This could make one believe that yes art has more value then fashion as fashion takes inspiration from art, but the 60's also saw Pop Artist Andy Warhol Design the "paper Souper dress". Causing a reverse on this idea. (Fig4)
Much discussion has been based around the history of art and fashion and how art was seen as higher value and status then fashion but how can I determine this when some people see fashion as an art form within itself. Is fashion Art? I once read that if an object is in an art museum it is classed as art. Marcel Duchamp argued against this when he took it upon himself to prove this old quote wrong and stuck a urinal in a museum. (Fig5) which ironically is now one of his most talked about pieces. Although if people choose to believe this then there has been many prestigious exhibitions of fashion, within well known museums such as the Victoria & Albert museum and the London Design Museum. There was recently a surrealist exhibition in the V&A showing the work of highly valued artist Salvador Dali. It also showed where he worked alongside designer Elsa Schiaparelli to create her garments. If art was seen as elite to fashion and to have a higher value and status why would these two work alongside each other taking inspiration of one another. Salvador Dali produced hand made prints the same to those in his paintings such as the lobster print dress. (Fig6) using the same lobster as in the lobster phone, for Schiaparelli to use her creativity and make into a wonderful garments. Dali himself even took inspiration from her clothes and designs to create some of his work. Pieces Such as the burning giraffe woman with draws. (Fig7) Dali was also involved in making textile prints for Dior. The new look by Christian Dior (Fig8) was in another exhibition at the V&A called The Golden age of couture, this was a sculptural movement within fashion so some would also see that as art. The garments were full of detail and shape and took hours of long hard work to create one off pieces with the new beautiful result. Another interesting fact is that Sotheby's Art auction house have dealt with pieces of Fashion within more recent times selling for well above the estimated prices.
This debate will be never ending as it really comes down to ones opinions and interests. I believe that yes traditionally Fine art was seen to have higher value and status then Fashion. Been more exclusive and more expensive, down to the ways of elitism and Marxism but things are certainly changing, with Elitism and Marxism starting to fade out.