As the world left behind the standards of the Victorian era, artists began to explore new ways of interpreting everything they saw. Straight lines, basic shapes and forms reduced to geometric planes became prevalent during the early decades of the 20th century.
Within the Cubist movement (1907-1914), spearheaded by Pablo Picasso in Paris, artists no longer accepted objects and subjects at face value, but rather interpreted them from multiple perspectives in a single moment. They rejected the idea that art should only represent nature. For instance, instead of painting the curving lines of the human form and objects as they appear like in "Weeping Woman," Picasso used straight-edge shapes to represent the multiple planes that may comprise that moment in time, interpreting the 3D in a 2D form.
"Tableau I," 1921
In a similar manner, artists like Piet Mondrian furthered the artistic conversation regarding the use of geometric forms within the De Stijl, or “The Style” movement. This Dutch movement (1917-1931) was embraced by rtists and architects as they reduced their palette to black, white and primary colors and embraced the use of vertical and horizontal compositions.
Looking at Ralph Lauren’s spring 2016 collection, the fabrics used on some of the designs seem to blend these two artistic movements. The geometric shapes are juxtaposed on the fabric in ways that mimic the multi-view perspective of Cubist artist.
The color selection and color blocking of the pieces also resembles the treatment of color and shapes of The Style artists.
"Composition II in Red, Blue and Yellow," 1930
Though this connection between Ralph Lauren’s work and 20th century art may only appear visual, it also makes me pause to wonder what more these design choices could be saying. In the same way the artists took time to reflect on how they were viewing the world around them in the early 20th century (from 3D life to the 2D planes of their canvases), could this be something we too need to do in our own era, but in the opposite direction?
The world is moving at an increasingly fast pace each day with technology reducing our lives to the 2D screens in front of us. Whether viewing and living our lives through the lens of the computer, smart phone or television, the real world is forever intertwined with the 2D digital sphere. Just as artists like Picasso did 100 years ago, we too could gain some value in taking time to reinterpret the 2D into the 3D. Instead of just experiencing an event through a screen (via pictures, texts, etc.), perhaps there’s an opportunity for a 3D experience with conversation, quality time and life lived together.
Runway Photos: Vogue.com