Ahead of chief creative officer Raf Simons’s next invariably game-changing decree for the house of Calvin Klein, the brand overnight unveiled the latest instalment in its ongoing landmark partnership with The Andy Warhol Foundation For the Visual Arts. From today, the 205W39NYC Madison Avenue flagship store – fast becoming a mecca for fans of contemporary art for its floor to ceiling installation by the artist Sterling Ruby – will play host to a reimagining of Warhol’s iconic 1966 installation, Silver Clouds.
A seminal example of the Pop Art canon, Silver Clouds, an installation of helium-filled mylar pillows made of metallic plastic film, was first set adrift at the Leo Castelli Gallery in 1966. The piece has been recreated a few times since, notably by other artists for both exhibition and theatrical stage performances alike, but perhaps rarely in a retail context and with the express permission of Warhol’s namesake institution, which is dedicated to both preserving his legacy and supporting future generations of artists’ practice alike.
It’s also not the first time Simons has referenced Silver Clouds. In his second ready-to-wear offering at Christian Dior for the autumn/winter 2013 season, Simons staged a show set amongst giant silver balloons set into the runway and suspended overhead; the collection too featured Warhol’s early drawings embroidered or embossed onto clothing and accessories alike.
The work has been restaged using the same ratio as Warhol’s original work though it has been amplified several times over. Each balloon has been filled with a cocktail of ambient air and helium that sets them adrift in mid-air – their movement is then dictated by the presence of visitors to the space. Each balloon is printed within the Warhol images that Simons featured as part of his Spring 2018 runway collection, namely the Death and Disaster series and portraits of Factory-era stars, including the late artist Dennis Hopper and the late publisher Sandra Brant.
The Silver Clouds installation is the second iteration of the partnership, first unveiled in September last year the artworks placed as screen prints across raw denim and gauzy nightgowns alike. On the eve of his runway debut at the label, Simons and creative director Pieter Mulier commenced their holistic overhaul of the brand with an ‘American Classics’ campaign that was partially photographed at the Andy Warhol Foundation and that juxtaposed archival Calvin Klein designs with works of art by 20th century American artists, Warhol chief amongst them. That same campaign then appeared plastered across billboards in the Mojave Desert, setting the scene for their second campaign outing (albeit the first conveying their acclaimed vision for ready-to-wear). The second time around, however, only Warhol’s work made an appearance. Calvin Klein and Warhol were also known to move in the same social circles during the 1970s and 80s. The two were often photographed alongside Calvin Klein campaign face Brooke Shields at Studio 54; an image of Shields captured by Richard Avedon now functions as a logo for the brand’s revamped denim line, Calvin Klein Jeans Established 1978.
Silver Clouds will be viewable at 654 Madison Avenue in Manhattan until February 28.
Tile and cover image: Courtesy of Calvin Klein, Inc.