Much of Karen LaMonte’s work has focused on clothing, and how it shapes and reflects cultural perceptions of the body. Throughout her career, LaMonte has approached this subject through many lenses. Her most recent complete body of work, Nocturnes, explores how night-time is described through dress in Western culture. The gallery is pleased to present a semi-permanent installation of the Nocturnes series, currently on view.
More About the Nocturnes
In 2009, intrigued by civilizations’ concept of ‘night’ as metaphor for the unknown, LaMonte engaged in a study of how artists across numerous media, genres and time periods, have sought to express night-time. She then conceived her own expression of night, fashioning life-sized female forms dressed in evening wear she herself designed and sewed—“female figurations of night”—and fabricating these works in materials evocative of twilight and deep night: glass in shades of blue, rusted iron and white bronze.
The Nocturne body of work also includes a group of Etudes, smaller-scale works which are, in one sense, studies, as the title indicates. However, these works also refer to Théâtre de la Mode, a collaboration of fashion designers, Ballet dancers and artists in Paris following World War II who created fashion mannequins in 1/3 life-size scale. Dressed in haute couture, these mannequins were then staged in miniature theater sets throughout the city—the objective of which was to help re-establish the French fashion houses and by extension revitalize the French economy. LaMonte’s Etudes consist of various female forms modeled in small scale, in both reclining and upright postures.
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Peters Projects has also mounted a semi-permanent installation of LaMonte’s Floating World works, adjacent to LaMonte’s Nocturne installation.
About the Floating World
Having become intrigued by the different ways in which Western and Eastern cultures define the role of the individual versus the collective, LaMonte engaged in a six-month period of study in Kyoto, Japan, in 2007. As a focal point for her study, LaMonte sought to understand how the Kimono directs discourse in Geisha and Kabuki culture; as well as how the Kimono reflects a notion of beauty and an ideology entirely distinct from Western culture. LaMonte worked with master Kimono makers to learn how to create her own Kimonos, and to develop her understanding of the myriad social intricacies and implications inherent to each garment.
LaMonte’s time in Kyoto engendered a body of work titled Floating World, a reference to the Ukiyo-e woodblock prints from the 17th through 19th centuries which depict Geishas, Kabuki actors, Sumo wrestlers, and other representations of entertainment and leisure activities intended to enable one to “float above” the mundanity of every-day life. The series of works consists of ten female Kimono figures, and one male Kabuki form, in addition to a small group of maquettes. These figures are constructed of four different materials—ceramic, bronze, cast glass and rusted iron—each chosen to represent different philosophical and social concepts embodied in a Kimono.
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