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Making Mondrian’s Dress

05/18/24 Saturday, 10 am PST

Lecture with authors Nancy J. Troy and Ann Marguerite Tartsinis


Based on their recently published book, Mondrian’s Dress: Yves Saint Laurent, Piet Mondrian, and Pop Art (MIT Press, October 2023)



Presented In-Person *and* via Zoom

Koret Auditorium, de Young museum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco


In-Person Tickets: $5, sold at the door only \ free for TAC members


Virtual Tickets (Zoom): $5 Members of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and Students. $10 General Admission \ free for TAC members.


A recording will be available for two weeks following the talk.



Making Mondrian's Dress


 In this presentation based on their recently published book, Mondrian’s Dress: Yves Saint Laurent, Piet Mondrian, and Pop Art (MIT Press, October 2023), Nancy J. Troy and Ann Marguerite Tartsinis examine the explosive popularity of Yves Saint Laurent’s 1965 Mondrian dresses, tracing the circulation of the original couture models as they were copied in massive numbers and sold at every conceivable price point in stores throughout the United States, where the vast majority of the French designers’ models were destined to be marketed. Numerous iconic examples of these dresses were instantly identified with the characteristic features of Piet Mondrian’s abstract paintings of the 1920s and 1930s – a grid of straight black lines creating discreet rectangular surfaces of white or primary colors: red, yellow or blue.


But there was also a surprising number of Saint Laurent designs bearing no resemblance whatsoever to the Dutch painter’s style that were nevertheless identified by the “Mondrian” designation. Troy and Tartsinis focus on two such sleeveless cocktail dresses in wool jersey. Produced in 1965 for Bay Area department store I. Magnin, these dresses have been in the collection of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco for more than half a century. Women’s magazines, the fashion press, and mass circulation newspapers characterized these looks as Mondrian. Though they lacked the graphic look of the paintings, these models ultimately helped identify the ubiquity of the "Mondrian" style.


Nancy J. Troy is the Kress-Beinecke Professor 2023-2024 at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, and the Victoria and Roger Sant Professor in Art, Emerita at Stanford University. She is the author of five scholarly books, including Couture Culture: A Study in Modern Art and Fashion (MIT Press, 2003) and, with Ann Tartsinis, Mondrian’s Dress: Yves Saint Laurent, Piet Mondrian, and Pop Art (MIT Press, 2023).


Ann Marguerite Tartsinis is a scholar of twentieth-century American art and fashion. She is currently visiting faculty member in the Graduate Curatorial Practice Program at the California College of the Arts and at the University of San Francisco. From 2010 to 2016, she was Associate Curator at the Bard Graduate Center and is the author of An American Style: Global Sources for New York Textile and Fashion Design, 1915–1928 (2013) and Mondrian’s Dress: Yves Saint Laurent, Piet Mondrian, and Pop Art, coauthored with Nancy J. Troy (2023).


The authors will be available to sign copies of Mondrian's Dress for those attending in person. Purchase a book in the museum bookstore and then come back to the Koret Auditorium for the signing.







Image Credits
1. Yves Saint Laurent, three dresses from the Autumn–Winter 1965–1966 couture collection. Life 59, September 3, 1965, 46. Photo: Joseph Leombruno and Jack Bodi. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2575-989). © Time USA, LLC.
2. Ena Naunton, “MONDRIAN,” The Miami Herald Part II, October 31, 1965, 19E. © 1965 McClatchy. All Rights Reserved. Used under license.

3. Yves Saint Laurent, Model no. 83, from the Autumn–Winter 1965–1966 couture collection. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; gift of I. Magnin & Co., inv. 66.7a-b. Photo: Randy Dodson. © Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.




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