Painterly vs. linear


Somehow while uploading the pictures for my post with the CdG photographs I started to think about Wolfflin’s principles of analyzing of art described in his ‘Principles of Art History’. I mean this contradiction of painterly vs. linear, because for me the clothes on those photos look quite painterly (actually reminding me of Francis Bacon’s works). I tried to apply this concept to works of other designers as well. Thinking about it I found Dries van Noten, Lanvin, Rodarte, Vivien Westwood to be the painterly ones, while Givenchy, Jil Sander and Prada seems to be the examples of the ‘linear’ ones. Though sometimes it’s quite difficult to decide, for instance among Hussein Chalayan’s work there are some which are more graphical and ‘clean’ and the others where there are a beautifully chaotic mash up of textures, colors and volumes.

I remember that while reading Wolfflin the most interesting parts for me were the ones where the concept of ‘painterly vs. linear’ was described with examples from sculpture and architecture which for me speaks about the versatility of the concept.


In case of fashion I think that the ‘painterly’ designers in general are the ones who work more with volume, cut and  textures, while the ‘linear’ are obviously so-called minimalists, designers whose works might be described as ‘structural’ and brands specializing in prints and patterns. Though sometimes ‘painterly’ and ‘linear’ elements could be combined in one outfit or in one collection.  All in all I think it’s interesting to try to apply this concept to fashion and see the results. I also think that it could be interesting to put in this context the work of different stylists.

Also I’d say that for me painterly vs. linear concept is in some sense one of many incarnations of the chaos vs. order juxtaposition and it might be case of why it’s so universal.

With deep sorrow

balenciaga mourning

I’m officially in mourning over the now confirmed appointment of Alexander Wang as the new creative director at Balenciaga – it’s such a mésalliance. In my opinion t-shirt designer whose collections look so alike that you couldn’t really tell apart one from another  by no means could be the head of such influential and innovative brand. Surely he will now have the official right to ‘re-interpret’ (cough) anything that Ghesquiere did in the past. Good for him that there have to be the vast archives and a good team though we’ll see if this will be enough for him to fill in the shoes of Ghesquiere.

In the past few years many of the houses that ruled fashion in the last 15 (or so) years got new creative directors – Dior, McQueen, Valentino, Yves Saint Laurent, Hermes, Kenzo, Galliano and now Balenciaga. This is really the end of an era (and I do realize how cliché and pretentious does that sound). Hopefully we’ll see more of Ghesquiere’s work in future wether from his own label or from some established house that might hire him (I have my guess where he might end up).