With proms across the country in full swing, we decided to take what we know best and infuse it into the fashion of the season. Below we’ve designed nine unique dresses, inspired by famous artists and paintings throughout history.
One of the most successful commercial illustrators of his time, Andy Warhol would become known the leading figure of Pop Art. Warhol was one of the first artists to establish screenprinting as a respected and valued medium of art, in which his Marilyn Monroe portraits and Campbell Soup Cans have garnered him celebrity status – a relatively new concept for the art world of the time. Pop Art, and Warhol’s influence on it, would begin to blur the line between high and low art. As subject matter related to pop culture and advertising, as well as the ability to “mass” produce screenprints expanded, new ideas opened up in terms of what could be considered fine art. This prom dress includes Warhol’s iconic banana motif.
Although known primarily for his paintings, Salvador Dalí was one of the most versatile artists of the twentieth century, accomplished in printmaking, fashion, sculpture, writing, advertising and filmmaking. Dalí is one of the hallmarks of Surrealism, despite his expulsion from the group in 1934. Freudian theories underlie much of Dalí’s work, often exploring the subconscious, dreams, and hallucinations. Simultaneously, themes of death, decay, and eroticism also permeate Dalí’s work, as he includes a wide range of symbolism, such as animal and religious imagery. Dalí is most known for his 1931 painting, The Persistence of Memory, in which melting watches, swarming ants, and an unidentifiable creature are placed in a desolate landscape, likely contemplating ideas of disintegration and mortality. This dress highlights Dalí’s interest in time and its fleeting nature through the motif of a clock.
An American painter specializing in geometric compositions, Frank Stella is known for marking the departure from Abstract Expressionism. Often focusing on the formal elements of art-marking, Stella continued to complicate and expand the range of his work throughout his career. With his beginnings in monochrome palettes, he increasingly used more tones, evolving into the multi-colored, brightly-hued works for which he is best known today. Additionally, he would eventually move into sculpture and architecture design. A key player in modern art, his work and technique would influence Minimalism and Color Field Painting. This prom dress takes inspiration from his 1967 piece, Harran II, which combines angular and circular shapes into a clean, yet complicated, composition.
One of the most famous female artists, Frida Kahlo‘s work is introspective, deeply personal, and often provocative. Physical and psychological traumas seep into much of her paintings, as she also explores ideas of identity and nationalism. Although she is often associated with Surrealism due to the subversive qualities typically found in her work, she was not a part of the movement concurrently taking place. A key and representative work of art by Kahlo is The Two Fridas (1939), where she depicts two versions of herself: one clad in modern European clothing and the other in traditional Mexican attire. Along with a bleeding heart and stormy sky, the artist expresses turbulence and pain in her mixed ancestry and identity. This prom dress reflects the personal style of Kahlo, as her self-portraits were the most common theme throughout her body of work.
As one of many twentieth-century artists who brought elements of low-brow into high art, Keith Haring helped to establish urban art as a respected genre of art. Haring drew inspiration from the techniques and styles of street art and graffiti while using neon and other bright colors. Haring often used simple imagery, but he raised important topics of the time, highlighting issues of AIDS, drug addiction, and apartheid. Haring used public spaces to portray his art and communicate his messages, not only legitimatizing street art, but also removing the barriers of high price tags, galleries, and museums – bringing the art directly to the people. This prom dress includes the color scheme and simple imagery of Haring, while also highlighting the style of the ’80s.
Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese artist with a diverse and multi-medium practice. Kusama has worked with painting, installation, performance, collage, and sculpture, although she is best known for her repeating red and white dot pattern found in several of her works. As a precursor to pop art, minimalism, and feminist art, Kusama paved the way for several major art movements of the future. Kusama was born in Japan but has spent a significant amount of her career in New York. Her work has sold at record breaking prices, and in 2015, Artsy named her one of the Top 10 Living Artists. This dress incorporates her signature dots, as well as her iconic red bob.
Roy Lichtenstein is one of the original and best known American pop artists. While his early worked ranged in style and subject matter, he came to his mature pop style in the early 1960s. His comic book-inspired work received significant criticism, as he was accused of lacking substance and originality. Lichtenstein represented culture at-large rather than expressing his personal feelings or outlook. His use of Ben-Day dots (the repeating red circles) are incorporated into much of his work and represent a key theme of pop art: all communication is conveyed through a certain language or code. The prom dress includes the Ben-Day dots, as well as speech balloon, representing his comic book style.
Piet Mondrian, one of the founders of De Stijl, boils aesthetics down to geometric abstraction and simple colors. Aiming to create a visual language understood by all, Mondrian created his compositions of purely lines, rectangles, and solid colors. One of his most notable works, Composition with Large Red Plane, Yellow Black, Gray, and Blue demonstrates these tendencies and is the primary inspiration for this prom dress. His style would prove to be immensely influential in the development of modern art, while also inspiring other elements of fashion and pop culture, such as Yves Saint Laurent, who created a similar dress in the 1960s.
Vincent Van Gogh, one of the most famous figures of art history, strives to communicate his emotional and spiritual state through his work. Thick, visible brushstrokes and deep, bright colors characterize his painting style. His paintings offer a personalize view into the scene which he depicts, an expressive approach that would influence artists for generations to come. In line with the stirring qualities of his paintings, Van Gogh himself was known for instability and extremity of emotions; he was the classic tortured artist. His most famous painting is Starry Night (1889) in which he paints a tumultuous sky and a town from an overlooking viewpoint. The prom dress is inspired by this iconic painting through the eerie mountainous figure, swirling shapes, and crescent moon.
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