The DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art, founded by Greek billionaire, hotel owner and art collector Dakis Joannou, is taking over Barneys' window displays in a public art exhibition in Manhattan starting Wednesday.
The Athens-based company will run the exhibition through July 4, 2012 at the flagship store on Madison Avenue.
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Patron Joannou conceived of the idea with Barneys Creative Director Dennis Freedman. This is the the first U.S. presentation of destefashioncollection, "an initiative devoted to investigating, interpreting and celebrating the complex relationships between art, fashion and the culture at large."
For the past five years, the DESTE Foundation has selected one artist to choose clothing and accessories representative of that year, which the Foundation then acquired. Items ranged from a Azzedine Alaïa belt worn by First Lady Michelle Obama to a silk dress from the personal wardrobe of late artist and sculptor Louise Bourgeois. Subsequently, the artists created an original artwork based on those five items, and this is what will be on display in the site-specific installments in the luxury department's store windows.
Works shown run the gamut of genres and countries, including items by artist Helmut Lang, photographer Jurgen Teller (whose work is NSFW), French art and design duo M/M Paris (Mathias Augustyniak and Michael Amzalag), poet Patrizia Cavalli and director Athina Rachel Tsangari. Also part of the exhibition will be a new performance art piece by artist and sculptor John Bock at a private event in June at the flagship store.
"We're more than just an emporium selling clothes and bags," said Barneys CEO Mark Lee. "We're part of the fiber of the city. We have incredible customers who come from the art world, from the theater world, from all of those worlds, architects, designers - that's a big part of our customer base. To have that communication with our customer base and with and for the city is part of our uniqueness."