The National Arts Club presents Charles James: Beneath the Dress

R.Couri Hay Creative Public Relations

Crouching male nude, black marker on paper – 1966

The free, week-long exhibition features a comprehensive examination of the man behind the dress. The exhibit shows over 60 of James’ fashion and erotic drawings that have never been viewed in public before from the collection of R. Couri Hay, writer and friend of James.

In 1975, James was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for his dressmaking technique. The painter Robert Motherwell, who was on the committee, said, “The drawings are more powerful and more to the point than any of the work submitted by so called ‘regular artists.’ I have never met James; I don’t particularly need to, but I think Charles James is a genius,” while photographer Bill Cunningham calls James “the Einstein of fashion.”

R.Couri Hay Creative Public Relations

Black and white cloverleaf gown, black marker on paper – 1964-1967


The mixed media exhibition will include a short film that utilizes rare footage from Anton Perich and Hay’s 1970’s documentary and interviews with James. A selection of vintage photographs taken by Perich of James in The Chelsea Hotel will also be on display.

James is widely acknowledged as America’s Greatest Courtier. Cristobal Balenciaga referred to James as “the world’s best and only dressmaker” and Christian Dior called his designs “poetry.”  The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institutes show, “Charles James: Beyond Fashion” in 2014 resurrected and cemented James’s reputation.

R.Couri Hay Creative Public Relations

“Rose Dress,” pastels on paper – 1973


Dianne B. Bernhard, Director, Office of Fine Arts, The National Arts Club comments: “Valuing structure and clarity above all, made James one of the greatest haute courtiers of the last century. ‘Charles James: Beneath the Dress’ uncovers his strengths as a fashion designer, but equally reveals James’ extraordinary talents as a visionary and an artist.’

“Charles James told me, ‘It’s always been about the dress not me’,” said R. Couri Hay. “He was a rebel and an artist who never doubted himself or his work.”

R.Couri Hay Creative Public Relations

Squatting male nude, black wide tip marker on paper – 1965

The National Arts Club,

15 Gramercy Park South, 10003
September 29 to October 5, 2014. 11am – 5pm Monday through Sunday

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