The Groninger Museum presents a major solo exhibition of the work of Bernhard Willhelm and Jutta Kraus (both, 1972) on the occasion of their tenth working anniversary. In the course of these ten years, Willhelm and Kraus have realized more than 30 collections. The exhibition will offer an extensive selection from these, with both men’s and women’s wear.
Willhelm and Kraus’s unconventional fashion is characterized by an outspoken visual language in which they give expression to the grotesque, the childish and the fantastic, which they transform and combine in an unparalleled way with elements from pop culture and haute couture.
Willhelm studied at the Royal Academy for Visual Arts in Antwerp and Kraus at the University of Westminster, London. In 1999 they jointly began a clothing line under Willhelm’s name. Right from the outset they displayed an extremely personal and individual style by means of which they created their totally own universe. Although their work is firmly rooted in the world of fashion, their fashion shows, often presented as installations or tableaux vivants, display strong resemblances to art performances. Eclecticism, craftsmanship and irony typify their work, which shows extremely diverse fascinations for, for example, south German folklore, pop star Michael Jackson, historical costumes, sport and traditional Japanese dress. With the consistent implementation of a deviating silhouette for both women and men, they breach the common fashion image with a striking alternative.
The outfits will be presented in an associative and intuitive way, in exceptional tableaux that highlight and contextualize the background and inspiration of the designers. The fashion designers invited Zana Bosnjak, a scenographer who lives in Berlin, to take charge of the art direction of this exhibition.
Mark Wilson and Sue-an van der Zijpp are the curators of the Groninger Museum and they compiled the first large-scale solo exhibitions with work by Viktor & Rolf, Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin, Marc Newson, Anuschka Blommers & Niels Schumm and Hussein Chalayan, among others. Wilson also curated the Azzedine Alaïa exhibition which later travelled on to the Brant Foundation in New York.
In conjunction with NAi Publishers, Rotterdam, a book with more than 500 illustrations will be published to celebrate the past ten years. The book will offer a previously unpublished overview of the work of these remarkable designers, and will contain contributions by author Ingborg Harms and fashion theorist Francesca Granata.
The exhibition has been made possible by support from the Stichting Fonds Kunst en Economie (Art and Economy Foundation), an initiative of VNO-NCW Noord. This project is partly funded by the European Union and the Samenwerkingsverband Noord- Nederland, EZ/Kompas (North-Netherlands Co-operative Enterprise)
With thanks to Modemuseum (Momu), Antwerp.