Style is an expression of identity. In many cases style represents a unique personality, while for others it speaks to an entire culture, belief, or movement. Travel through the VMFA galleries to see how art can express attitude, status, trends, spirit, and thoughts!
21st Century Gallery, Level 2
Style can sometimes be seen as a performance, and a way to share something about yourself by what you choose to wear. The artist of this piece, Nick Cave, makes these “Soundsuits” using ordinary materials that range from sequins to human hair, buttons, feathers, wire, and other accumulated objects that make noise when they move. What objects do you see? What would you adorn your own “Soundsuit” in?
Mid to Late 20th–Century Art Gallery, Level 2
Barkley L. Hendricks paints colorful, approximately life-sized portraits of everyday people, such as these two sisters. He pays special attention to jewelry, clothing, skin tones, patterns, and textures, while also playing up their self-aware fashion statement. What do you think their style says about them and why?
Ancient Art Gallery, Level 2
Agrippina, the mother of the infamous Emperor Caligula, sports a hairstyle with waves in the front—similar to the portrayal of Greek and Roman goddesses—while in the back she displays cork-screw curls, her signature style that became a trend in her day. What celebrity hair trends are popular now?
19th Century European Gallery, Level 2
In France at this time, fashion and identity were tightly intertwined. Portraits like this one by Franz Winterhalter were used to communicate the “status” of the subject, and subjects often bought clothing specifically to wear in their portraits. What details do you see that might tell us who this woman was? What can you learn about people today from their style choices? What do you think your style says about you?
African Art Gallery, Level 2
This extraordinary object represents the Yoruba concept of the inner and outer head. On the pedestal, there is a Yoruba proverb that says, “May my inner head not spoil the external one.” What do you think the message of that proverb is?
Untitled (Sound Suit), Nick Cave, 2011
Barkley L. Hendricks, Sisters (Susan and Toni), 1977
Unknown, Agrippina the Elder, mid-1st century A.D.
Franz Winterhalter, Portrait of Lydia Schabelsky, ca. 1857-58
Unknown, Ilé Orí (House of the Head), 19th-20th century