“Ralph Pucci: The Art of the Mannequin” opened at The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) this week in New York. The exhibition is the first to consider the artistic innovation of Pucci’s modern mannequins.
“This groundbreaking exhibition will reveal the fascinating convergence of design, craftsmanship, art, and fashion at the heart of Pucci’s mannequins,” said Glenn Adamson, MAD’s Director. “Visitors will get a unique behind-the-scenes understanding of the creative process involved in Pucci’s multidisciplinary endeavors.”
Ralph Pucci worked with sculptor Michael Evert to bush the boundaries of the role and look of the mannequin. At the opening last Monday, the designer offered some insight into his exploration of the form. “My career started in 1976 and I was very athletic growing up. There was no such thing as an action mannequin—it was all mannequins that were very lady-like and very proper, with fingernails and wigs. And so we decided to do action mannequins. The handstand mannequin was great for athletic clothes and it was a whole trend that was happening in the late 70s, and it exploded. It really gave Pucci a point of view and a strong direction,” he said, motioning to the mannequin that he credits as his first.
“Pucci has not been afraid to diversify, abstract, and satirize the human figure and generally to push the culture envelope,” said MAD’s Chief Curator, Lowery Stokes Sims. “He has also cultivated collaborative relationships with designers, models, artists, and illustrators that have had energizing and inspiring results.”
Over the past three decades Pucci has teamed up with other designers and artists to expand the parameters of the mannequin’s omnipresent sculptural form. For Diane von Furstenberg, Pucci created a “terra cotta army” of 250 mannequins for her 2013 “Journey of A Dress” show in Los Angeles. Then there are his creative collaborations with Patrick Neggar, Lowell Nesbitt (Olympic Gold, 1989), Andrée Putman (The Olympian Goddess, 1986), Kenny Scharf (Swirley, 2000), Anna Sui, Isabel and Ruben Toldeo (Birdland, 1988), Christy Turlington, and Veruschka. At MAD, over 30 of these figures are on view. In addition, an in-gallery recreation of his sculpture studio and an assortment of prototypes are on display. Accompanying time-lapse videos are also available to view the action of his studio and the work of Everts.
“Ralph Pucci: The Art of the Mannequin” is on view at MAD thorugh August 30.