Austrian-born designer Helmut Lang retired from his namesake fashion label more than a decade ago, but he’s hardly been sitting around idle. Rather, he’s been busy proving what the fashion world has always known: Art and fashion go hand in hand. In a seamless transition, the enigmatic modernist traded design atelier for Long Island artist’s studio and catwalk for galleries from New York to Paris to Moscow. This spring, the Dallas Contemporary gives Lang a Texas-size welcome with his first U.S. solo show, Burry, an exhibition of recent sculpture using sheepskin transformed by tar.
The exhibition is a natural evolution of Lang’s studio practice, “which has focused on materials and processes in a post-conceptual art world for the past ten years,” says Dallas Contemporary director Peter Doroshenko. “The various sculptural works combine natural materials, history of art, and personal storytelling.” Burry continues at the Dallas Contemporary (dallascontemporary.org) through Aug. 21.
Fashion and art meet in an altogether different manner in Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty, organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum and making the first stop of a five-city tour at the Dallas Museum of Art (dma.org). One of the most significant photographers of the 20th century, Penn is best known for the iconic images — portraits, still lifes, surrealistic takes on fashion and beauty — created for Vogue starting in the late 1940s. “He brought a new angle to any subject he approached, from portraiture all the way to his series of cigarettes and street materials,” says presenting curator Sue Canterbury. “He could pull beauty out of even the most unlikely of subjects.”
Beyond Beauty is the first retrospective of Penn’s work in nearly 20 years and showcases 140 images spanning his 70-year career, including a number of previously unseen images. Super-8mm films of Penn at work in Morocco were shot by his wife and frequent model Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn. The exhibition continues at the DMA through Aug. 14., then moves to the Lunder Arts Center at Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass. (Sept. 12–Nov. 13); the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville (Feb. 24–May 29, 2017); the Frick Art & Historical Center in Pittsburgh (June 17–Sept. 10, 2017); and the Wichita Art Museum in Wichita, Kansas (Sept. 30, 2017–Jan. 7, 2018).