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01 April 2012 @ 09:36 am
Jean Cocteau & Les Demoiselles  
Art produces ugly things, which frequently become beautiful with time.  Fashion, on the other hand, produces beautiful things which always become ugly with time.
-- Jean Cocteau

The first half of this quote makes me think of Pablo Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, which has got to be one of the ugliest paintings I've ever seen.  It's got these mammoth misshapen women glaring out at the viewer; some of them wear African masks while others just look creepy.  It's horrible to look at...and yet it's considered one of the most powerful and influential images of the 20th century.  In one of my classes (Art Theory) we'll be studying the image in great detail in a few months.  That sounds painful to me.

As for the second half...well, I can't say I agree.  While many fashions have become ugly with time (Elizabethan neck ruffs - whatever were they thinking???) I think some looks retain something worth emulating.  I mean, I think that the square-necked gowns favored by Anne Boleyn and women of the English court during Henry VIII's reign are beautiful.  Sure, they may be too cumbersome for daily wear, but in terms of design and flattering the body they're wonderful.  It's been five hundred years but they still haven't become 'ugly'.  But modern fashion certainly ages quickly!  When I look at the "trendy" clothes from the last few years, so much of it looks trashy and pathetic, even though I remember that at the time it was quite cute.  So I think Cocteau is on to something there...