Yves Saint Laurent, Robe Hommage à Piet Mondrian
Piet Mondrian, Composition en rouge bleu et blanc II
Pablo Picasso, Portrait de Nusch Eluard
Yves Saint Laurent, Veste Hommage à Pablo Picasso
Yves Saint Laurent 1936, Oran (Algérie)
Pierre Bonnard, The Garden
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An exhibition celebrates the mastery and art of an iconic fashion designer

Taking an innovative approach to marking an important date, the exhibition Yves Saint Laurent in Museums convenes in six Parisian museums: the Centre Pompidou, the City of Paris Museum of Modern Art, the Louvre Museum, the Musée d’Orsay, the Picasso-Paris National Museum, and the Yves Saint Laurent Paris Museum. Each museum delves into the profound inspirational bond the designer had with art in general and the collections of French public museums. Through museums, he developed a dialogue with the artists of the past and present that continued throughout his long career, with tributes to Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, Pierre Bonnard, Fernand Léger, Vincent van Gogh, and Pablo Picasso.

Yves Saint Laurent can also be credited with truly entering fashion into museums. He was the first designer whose life was the subject of a major retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1983, paving the way for the success of exhibitions dedicated to fashion designers and the “heritagization” of fashion.

This exhibit celebrates the sixtieth anniversary of the first Yves Saint Laurent runway show.

Conceived and made possible by the Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent Foundation, Yves Saint Laurent in Museums fosters a dialogue between a selection of garments, including some of the couturier’s most iconic designs, and the permanent collections of six prominent Parisian museums. The exhibition celebrates both Saint Laurent’s mastery and art in general. The scale of the project makes it possible to link the world of Yves Saint Laurent with other artistic realms.

From museum to museum, different stories emerge that question myths about the designer, myths that touch on the unfathomable part of his person, but also his quest for the absolute.

Sensitive to the connections between the arts, Saint Laurent was constantly juggling rhythms and colours, lights and materials, which the City of Paris Museum of Modern Art, tries to emulate by alternating monumental halls and intimate sequences.

The journey that takes shape within the permanent collections makes it possible to show – with tributes paid to Matisse, Bonnard and other artists – how Yves Saint Laurent had the genius to move from plan to volume, from the aesthetics of the surface to body aesthetics. He does not copy, he does not transpose a painting onto a dress, he integrates it, he structures it so the final garment is not a copy but a new creation.

The exhibition aims to highlight, through the subtle interplay of affinities and similarities, the intense and continuous dialogue that Saint Laurent held with the visual arts. “When I work, I am constantly thinking about art and painting”, he explains.

Text Martin Wray & courtesy of the participating museums / Photos courtesy of the participating museums