Balenciaga and Spanish painting

The museum is presenting an exhibition that connects the work of Cristóbal Balenciaga, the most admired and influential fashion designer of all time, with the tradition of 16th to 20th century Spanish painting.

References to Spanish art and culture are a recurring presence in Balenciaga’s work. The simple, minimalist lines of religious habits or the architectural volume of their cloth are to be found in many of his designs. The billowing traing of a flamenco dancer’s dress echoed in the flounces on some dresses, the glinting reflections on a bullfighter’s suit, brilliantly conveyed in the sequin embroidery on a bolero jacket, and the aesthetic of Habsburg court dress echoed in black velvets embellised with jet trim in some creations are just a few examples. Balenciaga constantly studied the history of art and made use of these influences, expressed through his own powerful and unique style, throughout his career, including his most avant-garde period, reviving historic garments and reinterpreting them in a strikingly modern manner.

The exhibition includes a carefully-selected group of paintings loaned from private Spanish collections and public museums, including the Museo del Prado and the Museum of Fine Arts of Bilbao. They are accompanied by a group of important creations by Balenciaga, loaned from the Museo Balenciaga in Guetaria, Museo del Traje in Madrid and Museu del Disseny in Barcelona and other international and national private collections, some of them never previously exhibited.

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