‘Good Artists Borrow, Great Artists Steal’

Following my previous blog about Gucci which you can view here, it seems fitting to move onto it’s fellow fashion powerhouse Louis Vuitton.

Jeff Koons, the American artist esteemed for his Balloon Dog, which famously sold for $58.4 million, has recently collaborated with Louis Vuitton in the new range ‘Louis Vuitton x Jeff Koons’. The new design featuring on several of their classic pieces derives not only from fine art but also from Koons’ recent collection of sculptures and paintings named ‘Gazing Ball’. This collection of works saw the remaking of Old Masters with blue reflective sphere placed in the middle of the painting, allowing the spectator to view themselves while viewing the paintings and sculptures. The collection with Louis Vuitton has seen the recreation of Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Titian’s Mars, Venus and Cupid, Fragonard’s Girl with a Dog and Van Gogh’s Wheat Fields and Cypresses and Ruben’s Tiger Hunt. Emblazoned on top, the artist’s name in dazzling gold. Inside each bag there is a small description of the artist that features on the bag, perhaps an attempt to advocate that although printed on a bag, these painting exist with spectacular prominence. In classic Koons style, he couldn’t help but include his trademark style as each bag has a bright inflatable rabbit key ring/tag.

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My initial response to the bags were disgust, ‘poor Mona Lisa’ I thought, wondering if Leonardo Da Vinci ever envisioned his masterpiece on the front of a handbag. Secondly, how have they managed to get the rights for this, how have they convinced the likes of the Louvre and the Metropolitan Museum of Art to allow for these masterpieces to be reduced to leather?! How have they allowed the sacred to enter the world of the profane. Following a bit of research and after I checked out some of the articles by the likes of Vogue and The Telegraph, I have to admit that I am a convert and this is why…

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Koons is actively attempting to remove the hierarchy that exists with regards to Fine Art and Old Masters, he is striving to remove the elitism that exists in the art world. He is bringing great art into the eye of the consumer, bringing Old Masters to the streets allowing it to directly compete with contemporary art. In the words of the Telegraph, it is a ‘heartfelt homage to great art’. He has brought the past into the present, linking high art to high fashion. He in effect has embodied the name of my blog Art for the People’s Sake, he has brought the old classics of the art world to the eye of the fashion forward 21st century brand lover, giving art a rebirth and bringing art to the people.

This is not the first time Louis Vuitton has collaborated with an artist as previous collaborations include Louis Vuitton x Takashi Murakami in 2003 and 2009 and Damien Hirst x Louis Vuitton in 2009. Their collaboration with multimedia artist Murakami saw the artist picking apart the classic trademark logo and recreating it in a more playful, colourful and vibrant manner in 2003. In 2009, he created Louis Vuitton rugs which were first shown at the Art Basel that same year. This collaboration saw the intersecting of three major markets, the art market, the fashion market and the interiors market with total domination. The Cherry Blossom Collection from 2003 saw the reputation of motifs which represent Murakami’s Japanese heritage, whilst echoing the kawaii pop style which he promoted. Damien Hirst’s collaboration in 2009 saw the creation of two twin trunk medicine cabinets for ‘L’Excellence du Savoir Faire’, a fundraiser for the Red Cross and its 150th Anniversary held by the fashion house. Louis Vuitton have supported artists and propelled them into the fashion world through their collaborations for many years and the list is endless – Cindy Sherman, Yayoi Kusama, Stephen Sprouse, Richard Prince….

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Murakami’s take on the Louis Vuitton trademark

Although at first I disapproved with Louis Vuitton’s recent collaboration with Jeff Koons, having taken a step back and realised his intentions, I am now a full-fledged fan. Koons is actively bringing Old Masters into the limelight to be considered anew, encouraging art to be appreciated and viewed in novel ways. There is now a way you can appreciate Old Masters and Fine Art on the streets and the 21st century consumer is being exposed to great art. However although I am now a fan of them, retailing at over double the price of the normal Vuitton collection, Fine Art shall not be brought to my wardrobe anytime soon.

Artist Jeff Koons with his Rubens bag     PR SHOT
Jeff Koons
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