Kimberly Brooks: The Stylist Project

Rachel Zoe, 32" x 24" , oil on linen. Courtesy Kimberly Brooks and Taylor De Cordoba, Los Angeles.

The art world. It’s way more serious and important than every other industry! This thinking at least seems to persist even though the field of contemporary art has maintained an open flirtation with its sassy sister, the fashion industry, since long before even Andy Warhol trotted his wacky wigs around Studio 54 with the likes of Diane von Fürstenberg. There is a mutual fascination between the two fields, and yet it seems that the art world would prefer to keep its consorting with the fashion industry confined strictly to social events, rather than consider fashion (so low-brow!) as a worthy subject matter for actual works of art.

Los Angeles-based artist, Kimberly Brooks‘, current solo show at Taylor De Cordoba gallery in Culver City breaks with this norm to explore the intrigue of the fashion industry’s most iconic stylemakers—without the precept of farce or condemnation. The Stylist Project (on view through April 3rd) presents Brooks’ latest body of work—a series of oil painted portraits of fashion industry insiders, including stylist to the starts and Bravo TV fixture, Rachel Zoe, and award winning costume designer and Madonnaʼs personal stylist Arianne Phillips, among others.

The work on view blends the fields of art and fashion astutely, presenting the fashionable set as they have styled themselves, while at the same time drawing upon the ages-old artistic tradition of portraiture. The regal positions of some of the sitters recall Renaissance royals, and the sprawled poses of others touch on the early Modern depiction of courtesans, such as Edouard Manet’s Olympia.

Arianne Phillips, 30" x 24", oil on linen. Courtesy Kimberly Brooks and Taylor De Cordoba, Los Angeles.

The Stylist Project is the third solo show for Brooks at Taylor De Cordoba. The first two, Mom’s Friends (2007) and Technicolor Summer (2008), explored much more personal subject matter than the present show. Brooks’ outward shift to now document the fashion industry with this latest series has garnered a lot of attention from media and publications that wouldn’t normally publish gushing articles about fine artists. At the Taylor De Cordoba gallery, they’ve laid out a stack of glossies with Brooks’ name inked onto them. When I asked Heather Taylor, Director of Taylor De Cordoba, to discuss the widespread reception that this exhibition has received, she told me, “The bottom line is that people are hungry for this dialogue and Kimberly is pulling the curtain back on the fashion world, which up until the past year—with the popularity of [the film] ‘The September Issue’ and [the TV show] ‘The Rachel Zoe Project’—had been fairly mysterious.”

New York born, Los Angeles based, Kimberly Brooks maintains her studio in Venice, CA. She earned her BA from UC Berkeley and trained in fine arts at Otis College of Art and Design and UCLA. Her work has been included in numerous juried exhibitions, including at Pleiades Gallery of Contemporary Art, New York; Risk Press Gallery, Los Angeles; and Phillips de Pury Auction House, Los Angeles.