The Art of Being You

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Shortly before his death in July 1997 Gianni Versace finished creating The Art of Being You, perhaps his most personal and expressive book. Paintings, drawings, and sculptures from Versace's personal collection are matched with fashion shots and couture fantasies in hundreds of playful and provocative juxtapositions. This heartfelt salute to contemporary art and the great masters of the early twentieth century demonstrates the profound influence of art on Versace's visionary ...
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Overview

Shortly before his death in July 1997 Gianni Versace finished creating The Art of Being You, perhaps his most personal and expressive book. Paintings, drawings, and sculptures from Versace's personal collection are matched with fashion shots and couture fantasies in hundreds of playful and provocative juxtapositions. This heartfelt salute to contemporary art and the great masters of the early twentieth century demonstrates the profound influence of art on Versace's visionary style.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The late designer Gianni Versace's too-brief life was, as Glen Helfand puts it, "bursting with supermodels, boy toys, celebrities, fabulous art, haute couture, and lavish villas." Before his tragic death, Versace had envisioned a book that would capture his lavish lifestyle, his admiration and appreciation of other visual artists, and the influence their work had on his own designs. That book, now serving as posthumous tribute to the great designer, is The Art of Being You.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780789204363
  • Publisher: Abbeville Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/28/1998
  • Pages: 244
  • Product dimensions: 9.92 (w) x 13.28 (h) x 1.07 (d)

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The following text was written in the summer of 1996, a year before Gianni Versace's life was taken, and so cruelly cut short. He was at an ideal point in his life--that point when so much has been achieved and there is still so much to do. The project for which I wrote the following text, The Art of Being You, was a boundary-breaking publication, one in which many forms of creativity came together and which Gianni Versace himself initiated and inspired. He had asked Interview magazine to work with him and his team on producing a completely new kind of advertising vehicle, a special supplement which could ultimately be an artful gift to readers. In it, his work in fashion, photography from the Versace archives, a variety of art, and statements by Versace all came together to suggest a new way of looking at things. This goal was typical of his character and of his vision. In everything done in the name of the House of Versace, he always wanted it to be driven by a sense of the new--and he always believed that the best engine to take us into the future is creativity. This perspective is so much a part of the Versace way of doing things that it seems almost genetic, and one continues to witness it in action today with the work that's being done at the house. With The Art of Being You, I got to see first-hand what it was like to work with Gianni Versace. One experienced an incredible combination of being trusted and being pushed. His high expectations, his belief that nothing was impossible, and his fearlessness were all so convincing and inspiring that it made you feel all those things too. With The Art of Being You-- which involved commissioning special artwork--Versace's affinities toAndy Warhol, an artist he'd always admired, became ever so clear. Warhol's philosophy, and his ability to see creativity holistically was, like Versace's, ahead of its time. For our supplement, we asked Versace to tell us some of the things that best expressed his philosophy about style, and about life. The first thing he said was, "On each person's shoulders is the freedom to have his or her own style." Versace's life and work are a testimony to the beauty of that statement.

---Ingrid Sischy, November 1997

This gift to you from fashion designer Gianni Versace is a celebration of creativity, individualism, and freedom. The individual who sends it to you is someone who exemplifies the art of being himself, and who doesn't waste his energy being afraid of the judgment of others. He says what he thinks, does what he thinks, designs what he thinks. Over and over, when he has spoken about his own field, he has declared that he hates boredom, that he believes people want excitement, glamour, dreams--just as he does. No doubt Versace's perspective comes from his own life. As a kid, he got some great basic lessons in the art of transformation through fashion. He would sit by and watch his mother sewing dresses for her customers. He witnessed the way that materials can alchemize into forms that allow people to feel as if they're stepping into their dreams. Versace's dream of being able to provide this alchemy on a big scale has come true. He's what in America we call "a success story." It makes sense that he'd be such good friends with another success story, a man who, like Versace, is intensely tuned in to human yearning--musician Elton John. He too epitomizes the art of being yourself. There's a beautiful, democratic saying that was invented by Elton John, which Versace loves because it sums up his philosophy: "Some people are born royal. Other people realize their own royalty." I cannot imagine a better way to express the fact that each person has within himself or herself their own richness, their own power, their own glamour, their own kingdom of ideas about what rules in life. This understanding of what is possible in contemporary life is also what made Inteview's founder, Andy Warhol, tick. It's what made Warhol want to fill a room (and Interview magazine) with a mix of people that included countesses and club kids, icons and individuals who had nowhere to go but with their dreams, to prove the point that one minute somebody could be struggling to get an audition and the next minute become the star that magazines want on their covers. It's telling that when Warhol would run into Gianni Versace (whom he painted), the artist would ask to be in one of the designer's campaigns. If you think about this one way, it's a classic funny anecdote about Warhol's foray into modeling. Let's face it--he wasn't Naomi Campbell. But if you think about Warhol's interest in Versace's pictures in a deeper way, it says a lot about Versace's connection to images. Warhol intuited that in a Versace picture the aura of Warhol's being would come through. Being in a Versace ad also suited Warhol's love of mixing up art and commerce, and of showing how artful commerce could be. I think Warhol would have liked the fact that his work is present in this gift to you from Versace. [. . .] Fun is not only something that Versace encourages, he honors it. He believes in its medicinal powers--just like he believes in the power of creativity. You can see this belief in action in the photographs that have been done by various photographers for Versace's campaigns over the years; this supplement contains a selection of these images. They are a testimony to the fact that art and commerce can co-exist, and result in work that belongs on a museum wall. Versace wanted you to experience, with this supplement, the same turned-on feeling one can have at a wonderful art show. In fact, in addition to the photographs, you'll notice that, from cover to cover, all the way through, there's a lot of wonderful art, most of it created especially for this supplement. So enjoy it all. And have fun reading Versace's how-to philosophy on the art of being you.

---Ingrid Sischy, October 1996

Author Biography: Germano Celant is a critic and curator of the 1997 Biennale di Venezia and organizer of the 1996 Biennale di Firenze. Ingrid Sischy is the editor of Interview and was a contributor to Rock and Royalty. Frank Moore and Julain Schnabel are both New York-based artists. Richard Martin is curator of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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