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Chanel, Francois Lacour/AP
Chanel's futuristic "Mobile Art" pavilion, designed by London architect Zaha Hadid, is seen in
Hong Kong on Feb. 25, 2008. The structure, filled with work by contemporary artists, is
currently on view in New York's
Central Park. 

Chanel Art Installation ‘Bags’ Central Park

October 21, 2008 01:27 PM
by Gerit Quealy
The Chanel Mobile Art exhibit has landed in New York’s Central Park.
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The Chanel Mobile Art exhibition, a futuristic pod pavilion conceived by architect Zaha Hadid, will occupy Rumsey Playfield in New York’s Central Park for three weeks, from Oct. 20 to Nov. 9.

The exhibition is the brainchild of Karl Lagerfeld, who initiated the idea to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Chanel’s 2.55 quilted chain handbag. Fabrice Bousteu, editor-in-chief of Beaux Arts magazine, also curates the exhibition. “For me, there is Chanel, and there is Karl Lagerfeld, who is an incarnation of fashion,” he told Sarah Douglas of Art+Auction.

Twenty international designers, including Switzerland’s Sylvie Fleury, “Japan’s Warhol” Nobuyoshi Araki and Yoko Ono, have applied their creativity to an interpretation of the iconic Chanel bag. And the artistic expressions that have emerged “include sculpture, photographs, videos and installation pieces,” reported The New York Times.

But Bruno Pavlovsky, Chanel’s head of fashion, insists the show is not just an ad for the company. “Mobile Art is not about advertising … it’s about design and creation. Chanel is one of the last houses that believe very strongly in creation.”

The exhibition first touched down in Hong Kong and Tokyo where it received rave reviews for the concept, execution and ease of use. The next venue on the whistle-stop tour is London in the spring, followed by Moscow and finally Paris in January 2010.

Adrian Benepe, New York City’s parks commissioner, notes that the traveling show represents a windfall both for the city and Central Park in particular; the former has already received a healthy six-figure usage fee and the Central Park Conservancy will also get a seven-figure bonus. “It’s like an alien spacecraft that lands in the park and, before you know it, takes off again,” Mr. Benepe told The New York Times.

Admission is free but online reservations are suggested.

Opinion and Analysis: Revolutionary Installation or Crass Commercialism?

Trendspotting Web site The Cool Hunter expressed its admiration for the installation when it touched down in Hong Kong: “Mobile Art is a revolutionary event, uniting one of the greatest architects of our time, some of our most innovative artists, and an icon of the fashion world … [It] reaffirms once more our devotion to creativity and to the avant-garde.”

New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff takes a considerably more jaundiced view; he calls the installation an attempt to “drape an aura of refinement over a cynical marketing gimmick,” and “hope[s] that the era of exploiting the so-called intersection of architecture, art and fashion is finally over.”

In contrast, Portfolio.com’s Fashion Inc. blog asserts that the pavilion “is not as commercial as it could be,” and is a “potentially smart brand-building strategy.”

Related Topics: The Gates, LVMH Art Foundation

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