FRI., OCTOBER 2nd: MAD / Ralph Pucci and the Art of the Mannequin


This post is about a private tour (thanks to MWC Member Patti A. !) with MAD Assistant Curator Barbara Gifford of RALPH PUCCI: The Art of the Mannequin  at the Museum of Art and Design (MAD) on Friday, October 2nd at 11am.

Mannequins Strip

NOT MEANT TO BE NOTICED:   Those familiar, human-shaped armatures on which clothing is displayed in stores are usually thought of, merely, as retail necessities – something to give form to the wares on offer to help potential customers visualize what the clothes might look like on themselves.   These forms – mannequins – recede into the nether regions of the customer’s consciousness because it is usually intended that they not distract from the fashion. The word “mannequin” is French and refers to the jointed, usually wooden, models used by artists which they can pose – and keep immobile – while they make their compositions.

CaptureBut for leading designers and retailers around the world, the looks of their mannequins are as embedded in their brand statements as the clothes they display and are an important way to convey the uniqueness of their craft.  A mannequin speaks volumes about the designer and/or brand:  what type of person the clothing is being designed for, where the designer falls on the spectrum between traditional and fashion-forward, and the risk-taking nature (or not) of the designer. This evolved idea of what a mannequin can mean is largely the result of the vision of RALPH Mannequins BPUCCI, the renowned artist highly regarded for his nearly 40 years of innovative approaches to the ubiquitous forms.

Mr. Pucci is a multi-hyphenate creative force and designer;  he works jointly with sculptor Michael Evert on the development of the mannequins.   He has products in many categories, including home furnishings, glass, graphics and lighting.  But it was in the 1970’s, at the dawn of the era of the super-model –  living, breathing mannequins who had very specific looks and personalities – that Ralph Pucci made mannequins an artform.   He started working directly with designers in creating shapes that captured the vision inherent in their fashion and the women they created for.  Pucci’s forms advanced and mirrored notions about body types, physical range and posture, diversity and movement and had a big impact on our feelings about self-image and identity. 

Mannequin DIn some cases Pucci veers into the surreal.  His work with Kenny Scharf, the pop culture-science fiction American painter resulted in mannequins which were equal parts of both artists.  He has collaborated extensively with both Isobel Toledo and Ruben Toledo on both furniture designs and their re-design and curation of Tiffany’s jewelry gallery.  For that project, his bird-like, fluid shapes – mannequins? – re-focuses attention on the inherent sculpture of the jewelry.   Pucci has also worked with Diane von Furstenburg, Andree Putnam, Anna Sui, Christy Turlington, Veruschka and others.

RALPH PUCCI: THE ART OF THE MANNEQUIN features more than 30 of his most important mannequins as well as a presentation of his company’s sculpture studio.   From the initial clay sculpting to the final fiberglass rendering, this is a unique opportunity to understand the process behind this little understood artform. [Pls. Note:  This exhibition has been extended beyond the initial close date shown on the video below.]

DETAILS:  This will be a NO-SHOW INSURANCE event.  Your insurance will be refunded after the event via TILT; please purchase an entrance ticket to the Museum when you arrive.  The regular $20 admission fee has been heavily discounted to $8. for our group.  We will have lunch afterwards – you will be asked if you would like to join the group when you reserve.  Members, please go to the “Reservations / Payment” section on the members site and sign up !


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