From Paris Fashion Week to Henie Onstad

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Paris Fashion Week 2023. The Australian actress Cate Blanchett was present during the Alexander McQueen fashion show. So were the curators for the exhibition Every Tangle of Thread and Rope, Caroline Ugelstad and Mary Jane Jacob. Photo: Henie Onstad Kunstsenter

From Paris Fashion Week to Henie Onstad

The British fashion house Alexander McQueen, which is known, amongst other things, for having designed Kate Middleton's wedding dress, has been inspired by the Magdalena Abakanowicz Exhibition that will soon open at Henie Onstad.

Alexander McQueen Spring Summer 2024 Show | Anatomy II

Alexander McQueen Spring Summer 2024 Show | Anatomy II – inspired by Magdalena Abakanowicz

On the catwalk during Paris Fashion Week, the McQueen models were surrounded by Abakans – large, expressive, woven sculptures, created by the pioneering Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz in the 1960s and 70s.

Large Abakans hung from the ceiling in the hall – and these works of the innovative and significant artist Abakanowicz inspired the outfits. Soon, the artworks will be shown in Norway.

"The fact that Sarah Burton, who has been creative director and chief designer for the fashion house McQueen for several years, takes inspiration from Abakanowicz in her last show is a great statement and very exciting," says Caroline Ugelstad.

Ugelstad is Director of Collection and Exhibition at Henie Onstad, and curator of the upcoming exhibition. Together with prominent celebrities, such as Cate Blanchett, she was present to see this unique show.

The collection shown in Paris is, according to Burton, inspired by "female anatomy, Queen Elizabeth I, the blood red rose and Magdalena Abakanowicz, a transgressive and powerfully creative artist who refused to compromise her vision."

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Several Abakans were backdrops during Alexander McQueen's show at Paris Fashion Week the last Saturday in September. Photo: Nobert Piwowarczyk

The fact that Sarah Burton takes inspiration from Abakanowicz in her last show is a great statement.
— Caroline Ugelstad

Inspired by the exhibition, which is on tour
On October 27, the exhibition Magdalena Abakanowicz: Every Tangle of Thread and Tope opens at Henie Onstad, where more than 20 different Abakans are exhibited and will form a forest of organic sculptures the visitors can move around.

The exhibition is part of a tour that opened at Tate Modern in London last autumn and has received great reviews in British national media, such as The Guardian, The Times and Time Out.

A highlight during the show in Paris was Situation Variable II – an over four-meter-high textile sculpture, which has not been shown for 50 years – until the exhibition at the Tate. Now, the work has arrived at Høvikodden.

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The Abakans will be seen at Høvikodden in the coming months. Installation view from the exhibition Every Tangle of Thread and Rope, 2022-2023, Tate Modern. Photo: © Tate

Abakanowicz seized upon fibre as the basic element of the organic world.
— Mary Jane Jacob

Europe's leading textile artist
Mary Jane Jacob is Co-Director of the Abakanowicz Arts and Culture Charitable Foundation and one of the curators for the exhibition that opens at Henie Onstad.

She has served as Artistic Advisor for McQueen's installation and explains how groundbreaking these works are.

"Abakanowicz seized upon fibre as the basic element of the organic world," says Jacob.

“It’s hard for us today to imagine how transgressive Abakans were in the 60s and 70s. They were unmistakable as references to human anatomy, yet they were towering, bloated, brooding, gnarly—and magnificently beautiful,” she adds.

She thinks it's time for the extraordinary and fashionable works to go on tour.

Soon you can see them up close
Jacobs is excited that Europe's leading textile artist is also getting a lot of attention in the fashion world. Fashion enthusiasts, fashion designers, models and photographers were present in Paris on the last Saturday in September and saw the Abakans up close.

Now it's your turn to see them at the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter!