“Bottega Veneta – Art of Collaboration”
A beautiful book published by Rizzoli, “Bottega Veneta – Art of Collaboration” brings together the iconic campaigns of the House of Bottega Veneta, the fruits of the collaborations between the artistic director Tomas Maier and his hand-picked artists.
Just recently Tomas Maier made a stand calling for the preservation of modernist Japanese architecture. Perhaps surprising coming from a fashion designer, this publically expressed concern reminded anyone who’d forgotten the extent to which the discreet German designer, who prefers to highlight his work rather than himself, is animated by a very sincere love for art, architecture, cinema and photography.
Throughout his career, from the house of Hermès to Bottega Veneta, another splendid institute of timeless chic, his vast personal culture in the above disciplines has formed the backbone of the artistic director’s style and inspirations. When he took the reins at Bottega Veneta in 2002, Tomas Maier immediately decided to call upon the artists he was passionate about for the house ad campaigns rather than the handful of major fashion photographers preferred by brands who risk of losing all visual singularity. Over the last 13 years Tomas Maier’s collaborations with his cherry-picked artists constitute a fascinating iconography, which today is celebrated in the book, “Bottega Veneta – Art of Collaboration”.
While revealing the origins of this passion, the book’s preface (written by Tim Blanks) equally highlights his authenticity. While living in Paris in 1977, Tomas Maier scoured the flea markets and auction sales at the Hôtel Drouot as he started to build a collection of photographs which later developed further thanks the gallery circuit. The designer’s gaze on the image is personal, educated and enlightened by a detailed knowledge of masters such as Irving Penn. This in turn has led to audacious choices of artists for his projects at Bottega Veneta: the South African Pieter Hugo for example has shot the campaign for spring-summer 2014. These images where the models strike the pose against natural backdrops (forest or flowers) are typical of the distanced documentary style of Pieter Hugo’s portraits, where the subjects are at one within their environments instead of dominating them according to the classical conventions of portraiture. For the spring-summer 2011 season Tomas Maier collaborated with Californian artist Alex Prager, whose images were clearly inspired by Hitchcock’s Birds. Over the years cult figures such as Nan Goldin and Robert Longo, as well as less established artists like Robert Polidori or Jack Pierson, have lent their unique vision to the campaigns of the House. And when the great Peter Lindbergh did the images for the spring-summer 2013 season, he created, above and beyond a simple commission, a veritably cinematic setting shrouded in mystery and glamour, as only he can. In this collection of images, Tomas Maier’s mark is omnipresent in the freedom demonstrated by the artists where we can read the depth of the dialogue they’ve forged with the artistic director.
“Bottega Veneta – Art of Collaboration”, de Tomas Maier, Rizzoli New York, 2015.
By Delphine Roche