Pulp Fashion - The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave

Please someone, beam me across the country, as I'd like to see Pulp Fashion, an exhibit currently on display at the Legion of Honor Fine Arts Museum in San Francisco.

Marie Claire de Croy and Child, after the painting by Van Dyck, 2010

Isabelle de Borchgrave
is a Belgian artist with a love of costumes and textiles. By painting and shaping simple rag paper, she creates astonishingly opulent costumes. some of which are designs extracted from historical paintings. The collection includes examples that span from the Renaissance to the early 20th century.

Photo courtesy Créations Isabelle de Borchgrave

Here's Isabelle (far left), at work with collaborators on a piece of paper "fabric" that is based on Massimo Stanzione’s painting, Woman in Neapolitan Costume.

Neapolitan Woman, 2010, after Stanzione's ca. 1635 portrait

Though her work has been widely shown in Europe, this is the first time it has been seen as an entire exhibition in America. Isabelle began the sixty piece collection in 1994, and each dress takes at least several weeks to create. What's especially wonderful for the viewer, is being able to see a painting brought to life, so to speak, in all three dimensions.

18th century men wore gorgeous brocade coats, but these are paper, of course, as are all of the accessories and smallest finishing touches in Isabelle's body of work... lace, buttons, and jewelry.

The Medici family of the Renaissance

The exhibit closes on June 5, but if you can't be there in person, this excellent documentary [edit: no longer available] is truly the next best thing to being there.

photos via the Legion of Honor website, except as noted.
Ann Martin
Ann Martin

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  1. I'm going to San Fran next week! Talk about serendipity. I'm definitely catching this show and taking my kids.

  2. Wow what beautiful work of art, thanks for sharing!

  3. What incredible talent ,you are so right about paintings brought to life.

  4. very beautiful work. I love costumes too {especially from the Renaissance period} and even better if it is made out of paper}

    another great find Ann

  5. I really enjoyed this here is beautiful I love you Paula work
    Greetings Baukje

  6. dear Ann,
    thank you for sharing this! such an amazing artist!

  7. I'm fortunate enough to live in San Francisco, and just went to "Pulp Fashion" last Friday. If you are a paper person, drop everything and come! This is the most amazing paper work I have ever seen--the apotheosis of paper! Paper has nowhere to go from here....Prepare to be blown away.
    Thanks for getting the word on this exhibit out to the paper community!

  8. Amazing!!! Thanks so much for sharing this Ann.

  9. wowza! that is so cool! i can't get over how cloth like the paper is, so incredible.

  10. Thanks everyone. Andria, thanks for your validation. What you said about how paper has nowhere to go from here is akin to what I was thinking.

  11. My sister got me her book for christmas a few years ago. If you haven't seen it, Paper Illusions: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave is truly stuninng. Not only includes the full fashions, but up close photos of shoes, jewelry, etc.

  12. Thanks for mentioning the book, Beverly - I'll look for it.


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