VIVIENNE WESTWOOD
Punk & glamour
A private collection
3 October - 9 May 2021

Vivienne Westwood’s illustrious fashion career first began with her business and romantic partnership with Malcolm McLaren in the 1970s. McLaren was heavily influenced by the situationist movement, a group of avant-garde political revolutionaries that rejected capitalist authority and saw as its mission to subvert and challenge the bourgeois status quo through interventions. Together Westwood and McLaren created clothing inspired by this movement, which they sold from premises at 430 Kings Road, London. Their aesthetic shocked a conservative 1970s England featuring bondage suits made from military tartan, tops made from cheesecloth or muslin adorned with pins and bearing slogans like "Destroy" superimposed over a swastika, and t-shits featuring provocative images such as a pair of homosexual cowboys naked from the waist down. Worn perhaps most famously by the band the Sex Pistols, the style known as “punk” resonated with the disenfranchised youth of London and issued a creative rebuke to establishment mores. 

Following the breakup of the Sex Pistols and the evolution of Punk into a more mainstream movement and realizing “we need ideas not kicking down a door” (Morrison, 2012), Westwood and McLaren moved on. The shop on King’s Road went through a number of name changes - ‘Sex’, ‘Seditionaries’, ‘World’s End’ - each reinvention opening up yet another imagined world. As Caroline Evans (2007) puts it, Westwood led “bold and swashbuckling raids on the past, treating history and culture as a dressing-up box from which to recreate the self as a flamboyant and spectacular creature’. They made clothes based on the costume of native Appalachians, swashbuckling pirates and a shocking inversion of underwear as outerwear. Their collections were exuberant, joyous and morphed into yet another musical movement centred on the Kings Road shop – New Romanticism characterised by Darcy shirts, sack and buckle boots and caped drama. While visiting Malcolm in New York, where he had begun spending more time absorbed in music, Vivienne also met the pop artist Keith Haring, discovering a mutual admiration for each other’s work. She later used some of his graffiti inspired designs in her collection including the Robot and Barking Diablo Dogs.  

When her partnership with Malcolm ended Vivienne turned to tradition, craft and from the mid 1980’s she rooted her work in tailoring and the self-taught Westwood apprenticed herself to the skills necessary to cut, sew and fold cloth. Rather than something to rail against Westwood found a creative wellspring in tradition, with his clothes increasingly taking reference from the pattern books of British history and culture using traditional fabrics such as Lochcarron tartan and Harris Tweed. The Westwood logo – “The Orb and Ring” used since 1985 is quintessentially British; part of the royal regalia held by the Queen at the ceremonial State Opening of Parliament. Together with the ‘Saturn’ ring this logo represents the taking of tradition into the future. Yet although the clothing evokes tradition, they never lose the playful edginess characteristic of her designs, the clothing remains distinct with slightly twisted hems and button lines, or odd junctures of texture, material and pattern. 

Westwood has come a long way from maverick designer, to gradually becoming part of the establishment and in 1992 she received an Order of the British Empire and in 2006 the title of Dame Commander for her outstanding contribution to British fashion. She is the figurehead of her eponymous firm; her clothes and products are sold in more than 50 countries and over 700 points of sale worldwide across all five continents. Over the years both her and her clothing have become increasingly more politicised. She has used her exalted position to provide vocal support for the Occupy movement, the work of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange and the informant Chelsea Manning. She has been involved in amnesty cases such as that of Leonard Peltier a Native American thought to be have been wrongly convicted in the USA. Westwood campaigns against climate change, protests to end fracking and advocates for the preserving the Arctic from mineral speculation. For instance, in her Spring/ Summer 2010 collection entitled Planet Gaia (referring to the idea of the planet as a self-regulating system), the models were adorned with environmental slogans such as “Act fast, slow down, stop climate change”. Westwood remains a figurehead and creative force in fashion whilst in parallel well into her 7th decade she remains a passionate and committed activist. This show illustrates her five decades in fashion from her origins in punk and her evolution into the glamour of haute couture. 

Lee Price, curotor and collector

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STIG LINDBERG
29 May 2021 – 30 January 2022

At the end of May, Millesgården will open a major exhibition of the works of designer and illustrator Stig Lindberg (1916-1982). The presentation includes some 400 objects – porcelain, wallpaper, textiles, industrial design, illustrations and more. Anne’s House on the Lower Terrace will be transformed into Stig and his wife Gunnel’s home and the famous Berså pattern will be displayed in large format in the park below. Many of the works have never been previously exhibited.
Lindberg’s illustrations for Lennart Hellsing’s children’s books on Krakel Spektakel will be presented in a separate gallery for large and small children.

Stig Lindberg’s designs enjoyed great popularity in Swedish homes from the end of the 1930s when he was artistic director at Gustavsberg Porcelain Factory. It was an exciting and dynamic time for Lindberg and his contemporary design and artist colleagues, who broke new ground in terms of materials and colours. They were perhaps also inspired by the need for “more beautiful everyday goods”, a concept with an educational ambition that included objects combining function and beauty and were available at affordable prices. Gustavsberg Porcelain Factory, owned by the consumer co-operative union Konsumentföreningen, provided space for experimentation as the association purchased or founded several major companies, including Luma that manufactured light bulbs, radios and television sets, among other things. The co-operative union also ran publishing houses, department stores, conference centres and much more.

During two extensive periods at Gustavsberg (1947-1957 and 1972-1980), several new materials and techniques were developed, and Lindberg’s enthusiasm and imagination resulted in the creation of a number of popular objects that were both functional and decorative: ceramic vases, faience works, table services, etc. Beloved articles such as the plastic money box Skotten and household wares such as the dinner services Berså, Tema, Ribb. As well as more unusual and lesser known objects such as a barbecue in enamelled sheet metal, the television set Lumavision and a transistor radio for Luma. Between the periods at Gustavsberg Porcelain Factory,  Lindberg held the position of professor of ceramics at Konstfack, University of Arts, Crafts and Design, Stockholm, while continuing to design porcelain for Gustavsberg.

Few designers were as productive, popular and beloved as Lindberg.
Stig Lindberg is represented in museum collections in Sweden and around the world.

LISELOTTE WATKINS’ ITALY
4 September – 21 November 2021

Liselotte Watkins finds inspiration for her painting in her daily life in Rome, where she moved with her family some years ago.
Watkins has spent a long time illustrating and painting women. During the pandemic year, in locked-down Italy, she observed how women spend time in and close to their homes. Based on close readings of herself and other women, she creates images that are interpretations of moods and emotional states. What do these women dream of, what do they do and what do they think about?
Filled with humorous and playful details and furniture, the motifs referring to art history, older still lifes and intimate depictions of space. The pictorial surface is dominated by geometric shapes with the sporadic appearance of a human presence.
Other series comprise painted amphoras and other ceramic objects, found at markets and flea markets. These are also portraits of women, several of which were exhibited at Villa San Michele in 2019. Watkins also works with textiles.

Born in Nyköping in 1971, as a high school student, Liselotte Watkins Falk moved to Texas, where a distant relative lived. Through recommendations, she began studying at the Dallas Art Institute where she focused on advertising and illustration. After a period in Stockholm, she relocated to New York at the end of the 1990s and this is when her career took off. Receiving much attention for her fashion illustrations, Watkins’ clients included Miu Miu, Prada, Vogue and Elle. She has also illustrated several books, including her own fashion illustrations in Watkins’ Heroine.
After sojourns in Milan and Paris, Watkins moved to Rome where she stopped accepting commissions and began to focus entirely on her artistic practice. She has been active as an artist in Italy for a decade and for the past five years she has devoted herself exclusively to painting.

When asked if any specific artist or art historical period has inspired her, she answers: “Here in Rome and Florence, it is difficult to avoid the Renaissance and Bernini and Michelangelo, all of whom one has to relate to. I have also been very inspired by Cy Twombly (1928-2011) who lived here for many years. In Milan, it was Carla Accardi (1924-2014) and Nathalie du Pasquier (b. 1957). In Paris, I became obsessed with Picasso. New York gave me Andy Warhol and Stockholm Sigrid Hjertén.”

The exhibition in the Artist’s Home and the Small Studio features some 20 paintings and 10 sculptures from 2018-2020. Several works have never previously been exhibited.

The exhibition is a collaboration with Villa San Michele and CF Hill Gallery.

NEW AQUISTITION TO THE ANTIQUES COLLECTION

Millesgården have, through Sotheby's acquired two Roman marble figures of dogs, from the 2nd century AD. They were at the end of 1930s offered for sale along with the Actaeonsculpture Carl Milles bought. The sculpture Milles bought depicts a recoiling man with traces of canine jaws and paws on the thighs. Milles acquired only the male figure, without dogs.

Actaeon was, according to Greek mythology, the grandson of the King of Thebes, and a skilled hunter. During a hunt with his two dogs, he wanders into a forbidden forest and sees the hunting goddess Artemis bathing naked. Artemis discovers him and in anger she transforms him into a deer, then the hunter's own dogs attack and tear him to pieces. At the British Museum in London there is a sculpture group of the same theme, including dogs, but on a smaller scale. In this sculpture the antlers are starting to grow out of Actaeons head.

The acquisition complements Millesgården´s collection of antiques and also enables research on Carl Milles and his collection of antique collecting, why he made the choices he made  when purchasing antique sculpture, and also research on this specific theme in antique sculpture.

 

The aquisition is made possible thanks to a generous contribution by Millesgården´s friends association. 

2016-07-01

Actaeon in the antiques collection at Millesgården. Photo: Yanan Li. 
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