Brooklyn Museum’s Current Exhibitions: Including The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier

Image of the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition's mannequins dressed up in punk fashion standing in front of graffiti

When I finally made it over to The Brooklyn Museum recently, I discovered their fall/holiday-season shows (all ending soon!) are an impressive three-for-three winners. It's been a while since the much-loved museum was home to so many strong exhibitions at the same time! My favorite of all them has to be "From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk," a large, loud, and totally fun retrospective of fashion icon Jean Paul Gaultier. 

People visiting the Brooklyn museum admiring Jean Paul Gaultier's mannequins dressed up like Mermaids

Jean Paul Gaultier's Fashion Exhibition

The Gaultier exhibition is impressive both because of the sheer range of instantly recognizable (and obviously influential) fashion trends sparked by this French designer, and for the exceedingly clever staging of the clothes throughout. Each room, and there are many, containing some 140 outfits in all, has a different look, a different soundtrack, and the lighting is uniformly excellent. It will remind you more than a little bit of the Met's Alexander McQueen show a couple of years back, but that's a good thing. One nifty, and slightly disconcerting innovation: many of the mannequins have moving faces–they blink, they smile, they talk, they sing, they grimace–courtesy of high-definition projections. Very cool!

Image of the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition's mannequins dressed up like sailors standing in front of a blue screen

War/Photography: Images of Armed Conflict and It's Aftermath

Also now at the Brooklyn Museum is a powerful exhibition called War/Photography: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath, which gathers together more than 400 photographs from 166 years of conflict all over the world. Rather than organizing the show chronologically, or by region, War/Photography is divided into themes such as training, daily routine, death and destruction, civilians, refugees, homecoming, and remembrance. All which, hammers home the terrible universality and timelessness of the experience. You will recognize many of these shots–particularly from World War II and Vietnam–but the overall effect isn't diminished by any familiarity.

Black painted wall with black and white framed photography of War at the Brooklyn Museum in NYC

Wagechi Mutu's A Fantastic Journey

Finally, and this might not be to everyone's taste, but I loved the crazy collages of the Brooklyn-based artist Wangechi Mutu. The exhibition is called A Fantastic Journey, and these mostly large-scale works are angry, grotesque, funny, explosive, and beautiful. Mutu uses magazine cutouts, found objects, sculptural elements and painted imagery in her pieces, and each can usually be "read" as one thing from a distance–often a female figure–but then something else entirely when you look at the details. Her videos in the back room are pretty great, too. 

A man walking through the Brooklyn Museum admiring the Wangechi Mutu pieces

More Information: The Brooklyn Museum Exhibitions

Time is running out to see all these trio of fantastic exhibitions, so don't miss out:

  • The Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition runs through February 23.
  • The War/Photography through February 2
  • Wangechi Mutu's through March 9.

The Brooklyn Museum is located on Eastern Parkway in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn; the 2 and 3 trains stop right in front. It's open on Wednesday through Sunday from 11:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., except for Thursdays, when it's open until 10:00. Closed Monday and Tuesday. Admission is always suggested, but please note, to see the Gaultier show you must pay full price, at $15 per adult.

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