Loewe celebrates the fanzines and pansies of queer artist Joe Brainard
Creative director Jonathan Anderson celebrates the multidisciplinary output of Joe Brainard, the innovative artist of the New York School, whose work included collage, miniatures and poetry
Loewe’s Jonathan Anderson uses the silhouettes and shapes he creates for the Madrid based house, to celebrate the creatives that have inspired him. These range from ceramics pioneer Ken Price, who pushed the frontiers of form and fabrication, to artist and AIDS activist David Wojnarowicz, who was a prominent figure in the 1980s New York art scene, documenting an epidemic raging around him with his radical aesthetic output. For A/W 2021, Anderson was captivated by the work of Joe Brainard, the Tulsa-raised multi-hyphenate artist, who moved to New York in the early 1960s, and whose visual and literary work included collages and miniatures, and I Remember (1975), a form-breaking autobiography encapsulating stream of conscious memories, that flitted across time and subject matter. Brainard died from AIDS-related illness in 1994.
For Anderson, the forms Brainard experimented with were wonderfully suited to Loewe’s signatures techniques, from hand knitting to leather marquetry. Brainard’s pansy-focused collages were of particular focus in the A/W 2021 offering, which featured his delicate floral formations reimagined as tactile knits or swathed across accessories using an intricate intarsia process. In a video accompanying the collection, Anderson spoke of the ‘textural engagement’ that he had created between Brainard’s work and clothing.
Elsewhere, as a take on performance art, tent-sized trousers could be elongated to reveal Brainard artworks, small motifs from his fanzines, like cartoonish gemstones, were blown up with central focus and snippets of text from his literary works were featured as slogans on bags. Anderson was also keen to celebrate wider subcultural silhouettes, and alongside the rave-inspired tent trousers, there were punky buckle-swathed leather trousers, and hippie-centric shearling coats.
‘When Joe was a teenager his ambition was to be a fashion designer, so Jonathan Anderson using Joe’s art brings things full circle,’ says American poet and close friend of Brainard, Ron Padgett. Their friendship began in high school, and Padgett is the author of a memoir dedicated to Brainard, which was published in 2004. Also in a literary leaning, Anderson created a volume to celebrate the release of Loewe’s A/W 2021 collection. An evolution of his lauded ‘Show in a box’ S/S 2021 concept, which was created in lieu of a physical fashion show, editors received a hard cover book featuring images of Brainard’s early fanzines, wrapped up inside a harness inspired by old fashion straps for holding books.
In celebration of the collection, Loewe has also released three videos exploring Brainard’s aesthetic oeuvre, available to view through the label’s IGTV channel (and on @wallpapermag). This triptych features conversations between those who knew him best, including friends, family and fans from the worlds of art, film and literature. In the third film, available to view here, writer Paul Auster speaks to filmmaker Jim Jarmusch about Joe Brainard’s writings and the lasting impact of his groundbreaking memoir.
‘Joe Brainard’s art work and writing have a relevance not only to today’s world but to the future too, because people everywhere are delighted and encouraged by his openness, kindness, and courage, as well as the pleasure he took in sharing his work with his friends and admirers,’ Padgett explains. ‘Then there’s his artistic genius, which never goes out of style.’ §