“The master of us all,” according to Christian Dior, who together with several of his contemporaries, including Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli, hailed fellow couturier Cristóbal Balenciaga as a creative genius. And this summer, many of the Spaniard’s most important pieces are on display at Madrid’s Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, in an exhibition that connects them to local artworks from the 16th- to the 20th-century.
Curated by Eloy Martínez de la Pera, who worked on the museum’s Hubert de Givenchy exhibition, ‘Balenciaga and Spanish Painting’ features art from public collections, including Madrid’s Museo del Prado and the Museum of Fine Arts in Bilbao, as well as pieces loaned from private collectors, alongside clothing from museums, former Spanish clients and their families, and national and international private collections, some of which has not previously been exhibited before.
References to Spanish art and culture were a recurring presence in Balenciaga’s work, with echos of religious habits, flamenco dancers’ dresses and bullfighters’ suits common in his creations. And indeed, legendary fashion editor Diana Vreeland noted that Balenciaga “brought the style of Spain into the lives of everyone who wore his designs.”
The exhibition, which runs until 22 September, is not only an opportunity to admire the talent of the influential designer, but to study the art that informed his work throughout his career.