Vanitas: Fashion and Art examines the theme of vanitas as expressed by avant garde ready-to-wear and haute couture fashion, and contemporary artworks. Traditionally used to refer to a type of still life painting popular in the Netherlands during the seventeenth century, the term ‘vanitas’ has become more generally associated with art that meditates on the ephemeral character of earthly pleasures and worldly accomplishments, and highlights the fragility of our desires in the face of the inevitability of death. With its accelerated cycle of obsolescence, explicit manifestation of status and material success, and potential for narcissistic self-regard, fashion is a particularly apt medium through which to explore this exhibition’s central theme.
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