The Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) announced an exhibition of 18th-century French periodicals documenting the French Revolution and the tumultuous years leading up to it.
“Revolution à la Mode: Fashion and Music in Revolutionary France” features hand-colored fashion plates, illustrating how fashion, theater, and politics influenced one another as France constructed a new democracy. The exhibition, curated by Nicole LaBouff, Mia’s Associate Curator of Textiles, will be on view in the Cargill Gallery from September 10, 2022, through March 5, 2023. This exhibition marks the first time these items have been on view.
In a unique pairing, the exhibition showcases fashion plates and musical scores that were published side by side in periodicals for the entertainment and edification of the public. These publications were among the first modern fashion magazines, with the illustrations documenting the fashions that fluctuated with the changing political tides. More than 20 of these fashion plates will be on display, alongside paintings and sculpture that offer context.
In planning for this project, Mia partnered with musicologists Peter Sheppard Skærved of London’s Royal Academy of Music and Rebecca Geoffroy-Schwinden of the University of North Texas to arrange new recordings of these songs long lost to history, which visitors will be able to hear in the gallery and on Mia’s website. Important but understudied contributions by women to the music of this period–uncovered through exhibition research–will be highlighted in the display. Skærved will perform the pieces live at Mia in a public program on October 18.
“We learn more about the fashion plates and the musical scores by featuring them side-by-side in this exhibition,” said LaBouff. “Most of this music has never been recorded before and we are excited to bring it to life in this exhibition. Clothing and music shape politics from the ground up, and this show offers visitors the chance to understand the atmosphere of Revolutionary France through those lenses.”
The fashion plates and musical scores featured in this show were a gift from the collection of Dwight and Helen Minnich. This is a free exhibition.