Speed Art Museum recently unveiled its highly anticipated exhibition featuring the artwork of Isabelle de Borchgrave, the Belgian artist whose life-like creations and elaborately adorned period clothing are entirely handmade with paper. The exhibition, entitled “Isabelle de Borchgrave: Fashioning Art from Paper,” features nearly 100 life-size, trompe l’oeil paper costumes and works that involve the manipulation of paper and paint to create fully formed sculptural costume pieces.

The costumes span nearly 500 years of fashion, replicating historical garments found in European masterworks and in collections around the country.
“Fashioning Art from Paper is truly a show-stopping exhibition unlike anything we’ve seen at the Speed before,” said Erika Holmquist-Wall, the museum’s Mary & Barry Bingham Sr. Curator of European & American Painting & Sculpture. “If you’re a lover of painting, craft, fashion, or sheer technical skill, this exhibition is going to amaze and delight you. It is theatrical, beautiful, wildly creative, and a wholly new way to look at art.” The exhibit runs until August 22.

Organized in partnership with the Dixon Gallery and Gardens of Memphis, this retrospective has broken attendance records at previous venues. It will give Louisville its first chance to appreciate an artist whose awe-inspiring craft combines craft, fashion, and paper to show how paintings can be transformed into three-dimensional sculpture.

De Borchgrave, 74, began working in her chosen medium following a visit to the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum in 1994. Her trompe l’oeil (“fool the eye”) paper works eventually would become four major paper fashion collections:

  • Papiers à la Mode (Paper in Fashion) takes a fresh look at 300 years of fashion history from Elizabeth I to Coco Chanel.
  • The World of Mariano Fortuny immerses museum-goers in the elegant world of 20th cen- tury Venice.
  • Splendor of the Medici leads visitors through the streets of Renaissance Florence, where they come across famous figures in their sumptuous ceremonial dress.
  • In Les Ballets Russes, de Borchgrave pays tribute to Sergei Diaghilev, Pablo Picasso, Léon Bakst and Henri Matisse, who all designed costumes and sets for this extraordinary ballet company.
  • Fashioning Art from Paper presents several works from all four collections. The Speed’s 3rd Fri-day event, (Virtual) After Hours at the Speed, will explore “Isabelle de Borchgrave: Fashioning Art from Paper” on Feb. 19 (also opening day) and March 19. Virtual After Hours airs LIVE via the Speed’s Facebook and YouTube pages.

This exhibition is supported by: W. L. Lyons Brown, Jr. Foundation (Cary Brown & Steven Epstein)

For more information visit SpeedMuseum.org