Crossing the borders, Phil Wagner

Is fashion an art form? It is a big question in the art talks, and i still remember a speech made by Elio Fiorucci few years ago, telling about his experience in the 80ies, at the time when he was hosting art stars like Keith Haring in his flagship store in Milan, performing and creating at the same time great artworks for commercial purposes.

Last month at the contemporary art fair Artissima, in Turin, i was walking around to check the New Entries, and it happened to me to notice a small booth, made by Untitled gallery from NY. Among the work they were presenting, i stopped in front of Chiffon an advertisement that most of us know for the series of disruptive campaigns of the company American Apparel.

Despite being a piece of newspaper, this adv had something different, it was double framed by a wood and a heavy metallic panel (121.9 x 91.4 x 17.8 cm), which meant that at that point the pretty lady in the photo could finally be defined as art. Chiffon actually became art. Together with the photographer who did the picture and the company as well.

The artist’s name is Phil Wagner, and the gallerist Carol Cohen, who was so kind to give me some additional informations wrote me: “After training as a painter, Wagner began making painting-like compositions through assemblage, employing discarded furniture and everyday objects he finds in the streets of Los Angeles”.  Strong of some solo exhibitions at the gallery, is not the first time that Phil Wagner plays with American Apparel advertisements, creating big composition that make the visitor think about where is the border between fashion and art, and why that border has been crossed.