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Geoffrey Beene: Trapeze

Start Date 07 November 2009
End Date 07 March 2010
Venue Phoenix Art Museum
Location Phoenix, USA
Curator Dennita Sewell
Designer Abbott Miller, Pentagram
Exhibition display of dressed mannequins suspended in the air

Fashion Designer Geoffrey Beene (1927-2004) created such innovative and original collections that his designs have been celebrated as works of art. The celebration continues and is featured in our very own Phoenix Art Museum as it presents “Geoffrey Beene: Trapeze.” The exhibition employs stunning pieces from a Beene collection acquired in the 1980’s and 1990’s, and is presented in a suspended trapeze-like fashion to create an artistic, yet stimulating experience.

Designed by Abbott Miller, a partner at the award-winning New York design firm Pentagram, the installation (on display through March 7) draws inspiration from Beene’s love of the circus. Surrounded by polka-dots and stripes, specially designed mannequins will hang from the ceiling displaying Tarr’s fantastic clothes.

Geoffrey Beene was one of America’s most inventive and imaginative fashion designers, one whom New York Times called “a true creative genius and bold and original designer. This “whimsical” exhibition looks to go further than the simplicity of his dressmaking and into the world of conceptual art. This particular collection was created when Beene was at “a creative peak” and much like Mr. Beene’s life in fashion, is “witty and irreverent.”

“Geoffrey Beene: Trapeze” features more than 30 magnificent garments, all of which were the custom-made wardrobe of Patsy Tarr, a prominent supporter of dance in New York and founder and publisher of the award-winning 2wice magazine.

The exhibition also looks to discover the duality and relationship between designer. The on-display collection also expresses the designer’s sense of humor and expertise with fabric, along with Beene’s love of flowers, dots, curves, wraps, folds and triangles.

Tom Kalin’s film “30” commissioned by Beene in 1993, will play on a continuous loop – its film noir surrealism complementing the installation theme.

About Geoffrey Beene: For 40 years, beginning with the opening of Geoffrey Beene, Inc. in 1963, Beene challenged the American Fashion establishment by creating visionary haute couture for women and superbly tailored styles for men that married comfort and luxury. Winner of eight Coty Awards, three CFDA Awards, an honorary doctorate from the Rhode Island School of Design, he was deemed an “American Original” by the Smithsonian in Washington, DC.

“Beene continues to be the most American of designers and very likely the country’s best too.”
Time Magazine

Image courtesy of Phoenix Art Museum.