Saturday, February 12, 2011
Pulp Fashion at the Legion of Honor
It's always fun to watch people interacting with Rodin's "The Thinker" in the courtyard of the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco.
The museum was the brainchild of Alma Spreckels, a Sunset District washerwoman's daughter who married into the wealthy sugar-and-real-estate Spreckels clan.
Alma needed somewhere to show off the Rodin statues she had bought directly from the sculptor at the turn of the century, and since San Francisco society looked down upon her, she built her own scale replica of the Palais de la Légion d'Honneur in Paris in 1924.
To add another layer of ersatz to the museum experience, a new exhibition has opened called "Pulp Fashion: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave," which features a half dozen rooms filled with elaborate dresses that have been recreated with paper in a trompe l’oeil style. The 65-year-old Belgian artist started on this project about fifteen years ago, and the results are amusing and fascinating.
"These all look like opera costumes and sets," marveled my artist friend David Barnard (above). "It reminds me of the kitsch at the Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach with their tableaux vivantes," I replied, but was honestly amazed at the craftsmanship.
Another visual sleight of hand involves the land around the museum, which is the municipal Lincoln Golf Course that covers what was once San Francisco's major 19th century cemetery. The bodies were supposed to have been taken to Colma before the golf course was created, but that's yet another fiction.