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Fashioning Art from Paper

An exhibition lecture with artist Isabelle de Borchgrave

Daniels Pavilion

Feb 4, 10:00am
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Daniels Pavilion 10:00am
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Fashioning Art from Paper
Exhibition Lecture

Part of The Baker Museum Lecture Series


Isabelle de Borchgrave, artist
Frank Verpoorten, Director and Chief Curator, The Baker Museum


Join Isabelle de Borchgrave and Frank Verpoorten as they discuss the inspiration and influences of the artist’s extraordinary exhibition Fashioning Art from Paper, as well as the background of her intriguing choice in working material.

This lecture accompanies the exhibition Isabelle de Borchgrave: Fashioning Art from Paper.

Isabelle de Borchgrave

Isabelle de Borchgrave


Isabelle de Borchgrave is an artist who has sought—and indeed discovered—new directions in contemporary creation. She has made works in bronze, she has painted and she has authored installations on commission from public bodies and international fairs, most notably at the Tour de Picasso, France.

Her story starts in a small house on the Sablon, Brussels, where Isabelle turned her little attic under the roof into a workshop. She gave drawing lessons to local children and friends, all the while letting her mind roam over her own creative possibilities. This was the 1970’s, and at the center of her work soon stood La Tour de Bébelle project: hand-painted outfits, scatterings of fabric rolls, pigments, brushes, gouaches, canvases, pastels and travel carnets in a rich scatter of colors and shapes, all gathered together in a bright, friendly and modern atmosphere. Later, her chosen working material indeed would be paper, which she fashioned into new and unique shapes, all with marked originality.

Following a visit to the Metropolitan Museum in New York in 1994, Isabelle began to invent her paper costumes. She worked brush in hand, the canvas ever at the forefront of her mind, to build four important collections, all in paper and trompe-l'oeil, each interpreting a very different universe.

Papiers à la Mode, the first of the four, told a fresh story of fashion from Elizabeth Ière to Coco Chanel. Mariano Fortuny plunged the viewer into the universe of 19th century Venice, with the watchwords of pleats, veils and elegance. I Medici took us by the hand through the streets of Florence to meet famous personalities, in all their pomp and circumstance, who made the Renaissance into a glittering epoch with its gilt, pearls, silk and velvet swaths. The technique of trompe-l'oeil here reached new heights of rediscovered richness and luxury. Finally, Ballets Russes pays homage to Serge De Diaghilev, while celebrating the works of Pablo Picasso, Léo Bakst and Henri Matisse, who had all designed for his ballets.

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