Monday, December 5, 2005

art: JhaneBarnes on fire

Jhane Barnes's new shirt collection is her strongest in years, which is really saying something because she is and has been a stone genius in the field of textile design for over 20 years.

Her site now has a video of the design and manufacture of the Infinity shirt fabric. But they're nearly all sensational. You have no idea how great, say, Chute or Clip Out is until you zoom in to the max and see the detail. Next - Zoom - Next - Zoom through the wonders.

Her œuvre raises issues about art and æsthetics that I don't have the intellectual horsepower to address. These things aren't unique; she apparently doesn't suffer for her art; she makes several collections a year of them; there's no overarching sociopolitical statement behind them beyond a deep appreciation of natural forms. While running a business and designing other stuff (fine menswear, furniture, carpets, etc.), she tinkers with custom pattern software and state-of-the-art textile techniques to crank out dozens of designs that you can wear for only $135 - $250. Does that make them mere craft, or design, or commerce, when each is so beautiful in itself and perfectly suited to the scale and shape of the human torso?

Or another way to look at it is, for only $9000 you could own a collection of 45 geometric abstract artworks that are better than anything I've seen in the genre (e.g. here and here) by a living "fine" artist. It's Piet Mondrian and Jhane Barnes and 18th century Kyo-Yuzen kimono designers, then everyone else.

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