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The work of French artist and outré visionary Jean-Paul Goude has taken up residence at Issey Miyake’s 21_21 Design Sight museum in Tokyo.
The show, titled “Image-Makers,” is part of a group exhibit that opened last week and serves as a mini retrospective of Goude’s work, most notably his creative collaborations with former muse and lover Grace Jones. In addition to his work as a photographer, Goude was also an art director at Esquire magazine in New York during the Seventies and has created ad campaigns for Chanel and Galeries Lafayette. Goude said it made sense to show the images in Tokyo since Jones was fond of Miyake’s designs, a factor that helped cultivate his interest in her.
“Suddenly the combination of purity in design and the wildness of Grace was something that I adored and that motivated me to do more. So when we got on tour together I was definitely inspired.…It was very important for me to bring this back,” Goude said.
Among the pieces in the exhibit is a motorized mannequin that moves up and down a track and displays Goude’s “Constructivist Maternity Dress.” He designed the geometric, sculptural gown of polyurethane foam, cardboard, felt and steel to accommodate Jones’ large frame during a disco performance — one extra complication was that she was pregnant with his child at the time. Goude’s most iconic photos of Jones are also on show, including the spliced image that gave the singer’s jaw an overstretched appearance and served as the cover of her 1985 album “Slave to the Rhythm.”
Images and interpretations of Goude’s other two main muses — model and actress Farida Khelfa and his current wife Karen Park-Goude — also featured prominently. Another notable work is a video installation that offers a playful take on Parisian public transportation: a strip of 12 TV screens showing footage of a subway train that zooms past a series of platforms without stopping for any passengers. Nostalgists should also check out video clips from Goude’s 1972 appearance on “The Mike Douglas Show” in which the artist tried to explain the benefits of wearing 12-inch heels and shoulder pads. Goude said the interview with the TV host didn’t go that well so he had to make some cuts to the footage.
“He didn’t get it. He mixed up the design and the sense of personal showbiz with sexual orientation,” he said. “He really looked at me like I was a big fairy and I really didn’t like it, you know?”
Helene Kelmachter curated the exhibition, which also features 24 moody lithographs by David Lynch, a series of video portraits from Robert Wilson and a display of footwear designer Noritaka Tatehana’s heel-less platform shoes. Photographer Hal’s images of Japanese couples vacuum-packed in plastic round out the show, which runs through Oct. 5.