Unique Creatures: Marina Abramovic – Givenchy Addict and Sometime Nudist

Performance artist Marina Abramovic has not one, but two signature looks: a floor-length, often all black, high-necked gowns—and nothing at all. She’s perhaps better known for the second—stripping down to a brazenly womanly birthday suit to confront such bold issues as the feminist identity, the limitations of the human body, the reproductions of radical loss, contagious narcissism, and the corruptive influence of easily gifted power in her work. She often invites viewers (and for many years her co-performer and lover Ulay Laysiepen) to inflict harm on her body—wiping her, cutting her, further undressing her, and otherwise manipulating her bare figure in such works as “Rhythm O;” sometimes her vulnerability is expressed through nudity alone. When she does wear dress herself in her work, she often makes the clothes herself—as in the case of her most famous piece, 2010’s epic MoMa endeavor, The Artist is Present. Here, Abramovic sat still in the museum for over 700 hours (sans bathroom breaks, movement, food), staring at visitors. It was a compelling piece–and one of the most viewed (over 750,000 visitors waited for hours to see the artist) in MoMa history. With The Artist is Present, radical performance art entered the mainstream and was legitimized.

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Unique Creatures: Nan Kempner, a Couture Collector and Supremely Stylish Badass

Nan’s love of fashion was borne in her blood, her mother and grandmother famously clotheshorses themselves. At 19, Nan purchased her first piece of couture, a Christian Dior white silk sheath with mink trim that she cried over to get the price down. At the time Yves Saint Laurent was the head designer there, and his curiosity over her need for the dress caused him to seek her out. Thus begins one of the largest couture collections in existence.

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