Go inside the worlds of art, fashion, design, and lifestyle.
Early this year, Dior hosted an event in New York with Sasha Pivovarova to celebrate its Spring/Summer 2018 campaign. The artist and model is featured in the campaign, painting in her signature style—line-based images of female faces, with long necks and big eyes.
Pivovarova grew up creating, viewing Old Master drawings for hours at a time at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow. She studied art history, and while traveling the world for her modeling career she can be found constantly sketching in her leather-bound notebooks.
Whitewall spoke with the artist about her practice and collaborating with such an iconic fashion house.
WHITEWALL: How was art a part of your life early on?
SASHA PIVOVAROVA: I grew up in a big family in Moscow. We spent our free time drawing and crafting at the big table with my siblings, making Christmas decorations, cards, toys for ourselves. My mom was very good at knitting and making embroideries, and my father still takes excellent photographs. I learned the joy of creating.
I also spent a lot of time in museums with my mom and would often bring my younger sister there later in my teenage years to sketch from the classical sculptures and Old Master drawings at the Pushkin Museum.
WW: You studied art history at university. Who were some of the artists you connected with then?
SP: Gustave Moreau, Mikhail Vrubel, Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani, Constantin Brancusi, and others.
WW: As you began to model and work in the fashion industry, how did that influence what you were drawing and illustrating?
SP: My art has always reflected my life. When I started to work in the fashion world, I was impressed by the creativity and beauty of it. Fashion is the fantasy and dream world, and it is still exciting to be a part of it.
When I entered fashion, lots of girls invaded my art—they had long legs, long necks, big eyes full of emotion, and beautiful faces. The female characters were everywhere in my sketches—in a forest surrounded by flowers, backstage looking at us through a mirror, or in a city with details like the Manhattan skyline, Russian churches, Roman columns.
WW: You’ve been collaborating a good deal with Dior. Can you tell us about that ongoing collaboration?
SP: I am very proud to have been chosen by Maria Grazia Chiuri for the Dior Spring/Summer 2018 campaign. I opened the show wearing the shirt with a written statement on it: “Why Have There Been No Great Woman Artists?” (a reference to the Linda Nochlin essay).
I cannot be happier that Dior and Maria Grazia Chiuri support living female artists. I’m very thankful that she gave me an opportunity to show my art in a private exhibition celebrating the launch of Dior’s campaign. I also created an interactive installation room, “Life Session,” full of expressive, oversized faces staring at you from all the directions. I wanted people to shrink down and enter my painting and feel the story behind it. Expressionism is like music—it goes directly to your heart.
WW: Are you someone who is always sketching? Or do you prefer to sketch in certain settings?
SP: While modeling and traveling, I was always sketching and recording my memories in my leather sketchbooks. I went through 15 books, starting with a collage from my very first Polaroid from a makeup test for Prada in 2005.
I sketch when I’m in a cafe waiting for lunch, on backstage, on an airplane, in a hotel or my studio. Sometimes I transfer the sketch on canvas in my studio, but I like the idea of keeping it in my sketchbook. It’s like a secret diary for me, and I am the only one who can read it.
WW: We read that you have a Rauschenberg print you bought at an amfAR auction. Are you a collector? What are some of your favorite pieces?
SP: I have a collection of artworks mainly consisting of work by my fellow artist friends. We exchange or gift artwork. I’m not actively collecting, as most of my time and attention is focused on my art practice, modeling, and family.