Isabelle de Borchgrave

(Eleanor of Toledo (and detail), 2006, inspired by a ca. 1545 portrait of Eleanor and her son Giovanni de’ Medici by Agnolo Bronzino in the collection of the Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence. Photo: René Stoeltie)

For more than fifteen years, the Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave has been producing a completely original body of work that is quite easy to explain but very difficult to categorize. Her central project has been to recreate exquisite, life-size historical costumes entirely from paper.  Taking inspiration from the rich depictions in early European paintings, iconic costumes in museum collections, photographs, sketches and even literary descriptions, de Borchgrave skillfully works paper to achieve the effect of textiles: crumpling, pleating, braiding, feathering and painting the surface.  The artist’s exhibition Pulp Fashion: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave is on view February 5 to June 5, 2011, at the Legion of Honor as part of the Collection Connections series.  Fine Arts Museums director John E. Buchanan, Jr., says of the exhibition, “I am proud to say that this exhibition, so appropriately presented in the galleries of our Legion of Honor museum, is the first to offer an overview of the artist’s most important bodies of work: from the white dresses and Papiers à la Mode to the Fortuny and Medici collections and her newest creations.” 

Exhibition. The Legion’s presentation of over 60 trompe l’oeil masterpieces draws on several themes presenting quintessential examples in the history of costume—from Renaissance costumes of the Medici family and gowns worn by Elizabeth I and Marie-Antoinette to the designs of the grand couturiers Fredrick Worth, Paul Poiret, Christian Dior and Coco Chanel.  Special attention is given to the creations and studio of Mariano Fortuny, the eccentric early 20th-century artist, who is both a kindred spirit and a major source of inspiration to de Borchgrave.  Additionally, five creations inspired by four paintings in the Legion of Honor’s European collection will be presented for the very first time. 

Ticket Information. Admission to Pulp Fashion is $15 adults, $12 seniors 65+, $11 youth 6–17 and college students with ID, and free for children under 6 and members. Purchase Advance Tickets »