Isabelle de Borchgrave
Countess de Borchgrave d'Altena
Centre des Arts Décoratifs, Brussels, Belgium.Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium
|Known for||painting, paper sculpture, installation art, collage|
Isabelle Jacobs by marriage, Countess de Borchgrave d'Altena (born 1946) is a prominent Belgian artist and sculptor, best known for her colorful paintings and intricately painted paper sculptures. She is married to Werner, count de Borchgrave d'Altena.
Countess Isabelle de Borchgrave d'Altena was born in Brussels, Belgium in 1946. Since early childhood, she had a passion for drawing. Pencils were her first toys, and she made drawings on everything in sight, including the walls and floor of her room. She began her studies at age 14 at the Centre des Arts Décoratifs, and, later – at Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, where her days were filled with drawing still-lifes and form models. De Borchgrave worked in advertising for less than a year after she had finished studying, and then made clothes for her friends before branching out into interior design. She later established her own studio, designing dresses, scarves, jewelry and accessories. In particular, de Borchgrave specialized in designing fabrics.
Following a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1994, Isabelle dreamed up paper costumes. While keeping her brushes in hand and her paintings in mind, she worked on four big collections, all in paper and trompe-l'œil, each of which set the scene for a very different world. "Papiers à la Mode" (Paper in Fashion), the first, was a collaborative effort with the renowned Canadian costume designer Rita Brown and took a fresh look at 300 years of fashion history, from Elizabeth I to Coco Chanel. "Mariano Fortuny" dealt with the world of 19th century Venice, paying particular attention to the elegant plissés and veils. "I Medici" was a trompe-l'œil installation of famous Florentine figures in their ceremonial dress, who made the Renaissance a luminous period, with intricate gold-braiding, pearls, silk and velvet. Then came Sergei Diaghilev's "Ballets Russes", that paid tribute to the illustrious impresario, as well as the artists Pablo Picasso, Léon Bakst and Henri Matisse, all of whom designed costumes for this ballet company.
A major turning point in de Borchgrave's career came in 1998 with her exhibition, "Papier à la Mode", at Musée de l'Impression sur Etoffes in Mulhouse, France. It consisted of thirty lifesize outfits made of painted paper. "Papier à la Mode", which The New York Times called "pure delight", toured France, the United States and Asia. As it traveled, de Borchgrave expanded it - with costumes from the wardrobes of Queen Elizabeth I of England, Marie Antoinette and the Empress Eugénie, consort of Napoleon III, while it was in Japan, and adding Ottoman kaftans in Turkey.
Over the years, de Borchgrave's paper creations have ranged from an elaborate headdress in the shape of a caravel in full sail, worn by Marie Antoinette, to some oversized roses for John Galliano's haute couture show for Christian Dior, to a subtle, white on white wedding dress train worn by HRH Princess Annemarie of Bourbon-Parma at her wedding with Prince Carlos of Bourbon-Parma. She was also commissioned to recreate Jackie Kennedy's wedding gown for the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston. "It was dusty and fragile, wrapped up in black tissue paper", de Borchgrave recalls in a story in Daily Telegraph. "The silk was dead, you couldn't touch it any more. It was preserved like a relic. The original is dead, but the paper one brings it to life again." In 2004, de Borchgrave designed and made a delicate, painted paper dress for Queen Fabiola of Belgium, which the queen wore to the wedding of Prince Felipe of Spain in Madrid.
In 2008, a colorful installation of over 80 pieces by Isabelle de Borchgrave opened at the Fortuny Museum in Venice, Italy. Entitled "Un mondo di carta - Isabelle de Borchgrave incontra Mariano Fortuny", ("A World of Paper: Isabelle de Borchgrave Meets Mariano Fortuny") the exhibition was spread over the historic palazzo's three floors and included versions of Fortuny's classic, finely pleated "Delphos" dress, as well as robes, accessories, shoes, boots, a stage set, an oriental tent, rugs, cushions, a lute and antique swords, often intermingling with the master's own works and collection, and all made of painted paper. Reviewing the installation for The World of Interiors magazine, author Barbara Stoeltie wrote, "Isabelle de Borchgrave freely shares her adventures in beauty – a beauty that, beneath her gaze and from her fingertips, pours out unstintingly. Tubes of paint, boxes of pastels, sheaves of brushes of all sizes and all kinds of glue gleefully take part in her marvellous game. The work itself rejoices."
In 2008, a lavishly illustrated hardcover monograph "Paper Illusions: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave" was published in the United States by Abrams. Within weeks, the book was declared by The New York Times to be one of "the best gift books of 2008" and "among the most unusual and fascinating... seen in a long time." The monograph was authored by the well-known writer and photographer duo, Barbara and René Stoeltie, with an introduction of Hubert de Givenchy, who said of de Borchgrave, "Isabelle is one of a kind; with a single sheet of paper, she creates the most beautiful dresses, the finest costumes, or, simply, a chain of white roses...Whether it becomes a shoe, a hat or a few strings of pearls, [Isabelle plays] with paper as a virtuoso plays an instrument."
In February 2011, a large scale installation entitled "Pulp Fashion: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave" opened to great acclaim at the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco. The retrospective exhibition, described by the museum officials as "trompe l'oeil masterpieces," is presented in six sections: "The Artist's Studio" is recreated to provide insight into de Borchgrave's creative process; "In White" showcases the purity of craftsmanship in a selection of nine dresses devoid of color; "Papiers à la Mode" features iconic looks from key periods in fashion history, and legendary designers such as Charles Worth, Paul Poiret and Coco Chanel are represented by signature pieces; "Fortuny" is an immersive environment created under a paper tent populated by recreations of Fortuny's famed pleated and draped gowns; "The Medici" is the artist's most extravagant series, with elaborate velvets, needlework lace, ropes of pearls, and intricate coiffures transformed into paper sculptures, and "Inspiration"— de Borchgrave's latest body of work, inspired by four paintings from the Legion of Honor's collection that she admired during her visit to the museum in the summer of 2010. The paintings were: Massimo Stanzione, Woman in Neapolitan Costume, ca. 1635, Konstantin Makovsky, The Russian Bride's Attire, 1889, Jacob Ferdinand Voet, Anna Caffarelli Minuttiba, ca. 1675, and Anthony van Dyck, Marie Claire de Cory and Child, 1634. Quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle, John Buchanan, the Museum's director, called the exhibition "pure poetry". "This is the coolest thing I've ever seen", he added. The installation, which Isabelle de Borchgrave called "a wink at history", will be on view through 5 June 2011.
In de Borchgrave's art, the starting point is almost always the same: sheets of paper one meter by one and a half meters (3.3 feet by 4.9 feet), which she sets to work on with her brushes and paints on an enormous linen-covered table in her studio in Brussels. "Her colors, reports The New York Times, "are very much inspired by her travels: reds from the roses of Turkey, earth hues from Egypt, blues from Greece...Borchgrave produces astonishing effects of scintillating color, weight, transparency and texture. Her renderings of diaphanous gauzes are especially astonishing."
- In 2011, a large scale exhibition "Pulp Fashion" opened at the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco, California.
- In 2011, a paper crinoline dress by Isabelle de Borchgrave was on exhibit at the "Pour Rire ! Daumier, Gavarni, Rops" show at the Félicien Rops Museum in Namur, Belgium.
- In 2010, a large scale installation "I Medici" opened at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels, Belgium
- In 2010, paper sculptures by Isabelle de Borchgrave were on exhibit at the "Shoe, Shoe...Shoes" exhibition at Izegem Museum in Izegem, Belgium.
- In 2010, a paper dress by Isabelle de Borchgrave was included in the exhibition "Extending the Runway: Tatiana Sorokko Style" at the Phoenix Art Museum in Phoenix, Arizona.
- In 2009, "Medici - Il sogno ritorna: Isabelle de Borchgrave a Palazzo Medici Riccardi" exhibition opened at the Palazzo Medici Riccardi in Florence, Italy.
- In 2009, Isabelle de Borchgrave's Elizabethan costume created out of painted paper was on display at "Art and Illusions: Masterpieces of Trompe l'Oeil From Antiquity to the Present Day" exhibition at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, Italy.
- In 2008, a large scale installation "Rêves de Papier - Isabelle de Borchgrave interprète Mariano Fortuny" opened at the Musée des Tissus in Lyon, France,
- In 2008, "Papier à la Mode" exhibition opened at Fundação Armando Alvares Penteado in São Paulo, Brazil.
- In 2008, "Un mondo di carta - Isabelle de Borchgrave incontra Mariano Fortuny", a large, three floor installation opened at Fortuny Museum in Venice, Italy.
- In 2007, paper sculptures by Isabelle de Borchgrave, commissioned by the museum, went on exhibit at the "Decorative Arts of the Kings" exhibition at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia.
- In 2007, Isabelle de Borchgrave's paper recreation of Christian Dior's Bar Suit was included at "RRRIPP!! Paper Fashion", exhibition at the Benaki Museum, in Athens, Greece.
- In 2005, an exhibition entitled "Papier à la Mode" opened at the Grand Ducal Palace in Luxembourg, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
- In 2004, an exhibition entitled "Papier à la Mode" opened at Sadberk Hanım Museum in Istanbul, Turkey.
- In 2004, an exhibition entitled "Papier à la Mode" opened at Mode Natie Museum in Antwerp, Belgium.
- In 2002, an exhibition entitled "Papiers à la Mode" opened at the Kushiro Art Museum in Hokkaido, Japan.
- In 2002, an exhibition entitled "Papiers à la Mode" opened at the Daimaru Museum in Osaka, Japan.
- In 2002, an exhibition entitled "Papiers à la Mode" opened at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
- In 2000, an exhibition entitled "Papiers à la Mode" opened at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, UK.
- In 2000, an exhibition entitled "Papiers à la Mode" opened at the Flanders Fashion Institute in Antwerp, Belgium.
- In 1999, an exhibition entitled "Papiers à la Mode" opened at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts.
- In 1999, an exhibition entitled "Papiers à la Mode: Illusions of Fashion", opened at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.
- In 1998, an exhibition entitled "Papiers à la Mode" opened at the Musée de l'Impression sur Etoffes in Mulhouse, France.
- Globus, D. (2001). The Pop-Up History Of Costumes And Dresses. Universe Publishing. ISBN 078-930-507-0.
- De Borchgrave, Isabelle (2004). Mes Carnets De Venise. Flammarion, Paris. ISBN 978-2-08-030455-1.
- Sadraee, Saeed (2004). The Textile Collection of Saeed Sadraee Revisited By Isabelle De Borchgrave. Sadraee. ASIN B000VAD81M.
- Charial, Jean-André, De Borchgrave, Isabelle (2005). Saveurs De Provence. Flammarion, Paris. ISBN 2-08-201273-5.
- Brown, Rita, De Borchgrave, Isabelle (2008). Papier À La Mode. Cosacnaify, Brésil,. p. 408. ISBN 978-85-7503-743-0.
- Barbini, Pascaline (2008). Un Mondo Di Carta - Isabelle De Borchgrave Incontra Mariano Fortuny. Skira, Milan. ISBN 978-88-6130-719-3.
- Stoeltie, Barbara & René (2008). Paper Illusions: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave. Abrams, USA. ISBN 978-0-8109-7133-2.
- Renzi, M., Acidini, C. (2010). I Medici: il sogno ritorna. Isabelle de Borchgrave a Palazzo Medici Riccardi. Alias. ISBN 978-88-96532-00-3.
- D'Alessandro, Jill (2011). Pulp Fashion: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco & Prestel, USA. ISBN 978-3-7913-5105-6.
- Stoeltie, Barbara. "Paper Illusions: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave", Abrams Books, U.S. October 2008. Retrieved 18 February 2011.
- Morris, Roderick (31 May – 1 June 2008). "In Search of Lost Style, with Painted Paper" (PDF). International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
- Farry, Eithne (12 October 2008). "Isabelle de Borchgrave's paper dresses". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
- "Dancing into Glory: The Golden Age of the Ballets Russes". Ballets-Russes.com. Retrieved 26 February 2011.
- Schiro, Anne-Marie (22 June 1999). "Mannequins, Start to Finish". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
- "Religious Wedding of Prince Carlos of Bourbon-Parma and Annemarie Gaultherie van Weezel". Theroyaluniverse.com. 22 November 2010. Retrieved 18 February 2011.
- Stoeltie, Barbara (July 2008). "Pulp Fictions" (PDF). World of Interiors Magazine. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
- "Paper Illusions: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave". Amazon.com. Retrieved 18 February 2011.
- "The Best Gift Books of 2008". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
- Garner, Dwight (27 November 2008). "Gifts Worth Buying a Coffee Table For". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
- De Givenchy, Hubert. "Paper Illusions: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave", Abrams Books, U.S. October 2008. Retrieved 18 February 2011.
- Pulp Fashion: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave Legion of Honor Museum official website.
- Wood, Sura (19 February 2011). "De Borchgrave's grand illusions". San Jose Mercury. Retrieved 21 February 2011.
- Zinko, Carolyn (6 February 2011). "Isabelle de Borchgrave's 'Pulp Fashion' in S.F.". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
- Gereben, Janos (9 February 2011). "'Pulp Fashion' puts art of paper on the runway". San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
- Bigelow, Catherine (9 February 2011). "Legion party for artist Isabelle de Borchgrave". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
- "Isabelle de Borchgrave at the San Francisco Legion of Honor". Departures Magazine. 9 February 2011. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
- Morris, Roderick (30 May 2008). "In Fortuny's footsteps, Isabelle de Borchgrave's painted paper shoes". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
- "Serge Sorokko Gallery". Retrieved 23 February 2011.
- Pulp Fashion: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave at the Legion of Honor Legion of Honor Museum official website.
- Pour rire ! Daumier, Gavarni, Rops: l’invention de la silhouette Félicien Rops Museum official website
- I MEDICI: Une renaissance en papier d'Isabelle de Borchgrave Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium official website.
- "Extending the Runway: Tatiana Sorokko Style at the Phoenix Art Museum". Museumpublicity.com. 17 September 2010. Retrieved 18 February 2011.
- Medici - Il sogno ritorna: Isabelle de Borchgrave a Palazzo Medici Riccardi Palazzo Medici Riccardi official website.
- Morris, Roderick (20 November 2009). "What Is Real, What Isn't?". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
- Rêves de Papier - Isabelle de Borchgrave interprète Mariano Fortuny Musée des Tissus official website.
- Papier à la Mode Fundação Armando Alvares Penteado official website.
- Exposition au Musée Fortuny à Venise: Un Monde de Papier - Isabelle de Borchgrave rencontre Mariano Fortuny E-venise.com. Retrieved 16 February 2011.
- Decorative Arts of the Kings Exhibition Showcases Opulent Lifestyles of the French Kings High Museum of Art official website.
- Kiss, Elis (5 March 2007). "A fashion thread, in paper instead". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
- L., D. (September 2007). "Isabelle de Borchgrave revisite la collection de Saeed Sadraee" (PDF). Textile Magazine (in French). Retrieved 13 February 2011.
- Papier à la Mode Royal Ontario Museum official website.
- Stamer, Andrew. "Storey Material". Wilson Quarterly. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
- "Events; Trio of Design Shows At Fashion Institute". The New York Times. 17 June 1999. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
- Isabelle de Borchgrave. Paper Fashion Musée de l'Impression sur Etoffes official website.